Stem cells can save life!
Since the first transplant of stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood that has been performed in 1988 in France, a number of roughly 25,000 similar transplantations of have been carried out worldwide for the purpose of curing a wide range of diseases. Today, umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells can be cultivated under strict laboratory conditions and, hence, even samples having a small volume can be used for treatment. Stem cell banks – both the ‘family-based’ and the ‘public’ ones – are facilities where cells are preserved through deep-freezing and stored for later use. These facilities play an important role in the process of curing diseases, since by resorting to them the harvesting and restitution of stem cells can be delimited in time and space.
- What are stem cells and what are they good for?
Stem cells are a special kind of cells that are capable of division and of renewing themselves. They are also capable of turning themselves into other types of cells, which perform a unique function, thus, stem cells can replace dead cells and tissues.
Cells isolated from the umbilical cord blood or tissue can play a key role not only in regenerating the organs of the haematopoietic system, but also of several other kinds of tissues. Today, these cells are being routinely used for treating diseases related to malignant tumours, maladies of organs of the haematopoietic system and autoimmune diseases, as well as for the regeneration of walls of blood vessels. Similarly, the results obtained in treating patients who suffered a myocardial infarction are encouraging.
Stem cells isolated from umbilical cord tissue can be stored, but also cultivated under strict laboratory conditions and, hence, even samples representing a small quantity can be enough to perform successful treatments.
- What kind of diseases can be treated using stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood or tissue?
The number of diseases treatable through the use of stem cells isolated from UCB is constantly rising, however, the differences in terms of officially accessible therapies can be rather significant among various countries.
Among others certain tumour diseases of organs of the haematopoietic system as well as certain immune deficiency syndromes can be treated and blood vessel regeneration in order to improve blood supply is also in the daily practice.
For instance, in France – apart from the maladies listed above – stem cell therapy is officially accepted also for the treatment of juvenile diabetes, GVHD, birth hypoxia and various developmental disorders of the pediatric spine.