Holding on to the cord that protects your family’s health
For a few years now, it has been possible to go one step further in giving your baby the best head start in life; by arranging at birth for the storage of stem cells from the umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord blood, the blood remaining in the umbilical cord following birth, is usually discarded as medical waste. What many people don’t know is that it’s actually a valuable source of stem cells, also known as the ‘building blocks of life’.
hat are Stem Cells? Stem cells create all other tissues, organs and systems in the body, particularly the blood and immune system.
These unspecialised cells are the so-called ‘masters of reinvention’– they can develop into specialised cells or other specific body tissue in order to treat specific diseases. Most families who bank their baby’s cord blood cells do so as a type of biological insurance for the future, as research has already demonstrated their potential in treating more than 80 illnesses, including leukemias, bone marrow failure and certain types of cancer. Stem cells are considered naïve cells which can, with the right stimuli, transform into the many other cell types and tissues found in the human body, such as skin, kidney, liver, blood cells, brain cells and so on. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells which have become old, damaged or diseased, and replace them. Effectively, stem cells are our very own biological repair system, “After the birth of your baby, the cord blood is easily collected within a few minutes, with no risk to mother or baby. The cells are then packaged in a special medical cooling device and sent to our laboratory in the UK, where they are tested and cryogenically frozen for 25 years” explains Darryn Keast, Managing Director of Medcells,the official distributors of Cells4Life in the Middle East..
What can stem cells treat today? More than 25,000 transplants with stem cells from the cord blood have taken place since the first successful transplant in 1988, where their primary function has been to replenish the immune system with new, fresh blood forming cells following chemotherapy treatment. Today, stem cells from Umbilical Cord Blood are used to treat a wide variety of blood, genetic and immune system disorders in both children and adults including: • Sickle Cell Anemia • Leukemia • Hodgkin’s Disease • Blood Disorders • Errors of Metabolism • Genetic Disorders • B-Thalassemia
Research has already
demonstrated their potential in treating more than 80 illnesses, including leukemias, bone marrow failure and certain types of cancer.
• Malignant Tumors
Considering that more than 80 life-threatening diseases are already being successfully treated with stem cells, and the fact that this number will very likely increase in the coming years, cord blood banking is a prudent investment in your family’s health. However the real promise of stem cell therapy lies ahead of us. Cord blood stem cells can be stimulated to turn into other types of cells including nerve and heart muscle. This has important potential therapeutic implications for the treatment of conditions such as stroke and heart disease, the research looks very exciting.
What does the future hold? There is a huge amount of scientific research ongoing to discover the full potential of stem cells. Clinical trials report many exciting advances using stem cells for the treatment of life-threatening diseases in the future, an area of research called ‘Regenerative Medicine.’ These regenerative cells could be key players in medical advances in the areas of cardiac, neuronal, bone, cartilage, and adipose tissue repair. Researchers studying conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Type 1 Diabetes, spinal cord injury, cardiac damage, burns and bone fractures, have long known the potential for stem cells in future treatments and early research looks very promising.
Stem Cells and Cosmetic Surgery: Exciting Possibilities Aesthetics Medicine is an up and coming and exciting area where stem cells have recently begun to show positive effects after treatment. Plastic surgeons in Europe and Asia are already using stem cells to get better results for their patients. To do this they are harvesting stem cells from another source in the body – the fat. Stem cells are extracted during liposuction and re-injected back into the body to treat scars, wrinkles, and for facial rejuvenation. This form of treatment is widely regarded as a more natural treatment for cosmetic surgery.
Med Cells, the official Middle East distributor of Cells4Life, is located in Dubai Healthcare City. www.medcells.ae Tel 04 311 6613
Dr. Jeff Drew, Founder and Scientific Director, Cells4Life