Advancements in medical science and technology impel us to ponder and explore body cells and tissues. Research has shown that many body parts and cells can help cure illnesses. A newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood is one of them.
This is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after delivery. This blood is rich in stem cells. To boost immunity, maternal-fetal transfer gets highest near delivery. Therefore, connection tube between a mother and a child is enriched with stem cells and other cells. This blood is very useful to regenerate new stem cells and help improve medical procedures.
Many parents assume that this umbilical fluid just contains normal red blood cells or white blood cells. However, the blood is rich with many vital cells that are used in medical science. It has given rise to cord blood banking. Here, parents opt to preserve the blood of the umbilical cord and placenta as their baby’s insurance. This blood can be used for their other biological children, their own family, or the general public.
What is cord blood used for?
Cord blood can be used to treat many blood-related disorders. For example, in Sickle-cell anemia. The red blood cells are abnormally shaped in this disease, and cannot perform their desired functions properly. Hematopoietic stem cells are found in cord blood. They produce healthy red blood cells that can help treat aplastic, Fanconi, Sickle Cell, and Diamond-Blackfan anemia.
An eight-year-old boy was cured of sickle cell anemia in 2017. A cord blood stem cell implant from his brother’s umbilical cord was used for this. The disease-free survival rate from an implant by a sibling is 90%.
Cord blood banks in many countries are used to supply Haematopoietic stem cells to blood cancer patients. Leukemia and Lymphoma are the most dangerous types of cancers in the world. These blood cancers can be treated by cord blood transplantation (CBT). Healthy stem cells provide new red blood and white blood cells that can replace the cancerous cells and make the patient live a healthy life.
Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes
Bone marrow failure (BMF) is a rare disease. It can be found in children and adults. This is mostly inherited. CBT procedures has made it possible for Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSBT) and Immunosuppressive Therapy (IST) for many patients. Particularly, when they don’t have an eligible donor. Transplantation procedures are not used frequently. But, they have been a good option for the treatment of BMF patients.
Cord blood transplants can improve a patient’s metabolism. So they create enzymes they need to clean their cells and improve their neurological conditions.
This is a storage disorder, where the lysosomal enzymes can properly break down carbohydrates in their cells. Infants with such disorders seem normal at the start, but in a rapid growth phase, might face abnormalities. Symptoms of this disorder are short stature, motor dysfunction, visual difficulties, skeletal dysplasia, or heart defects. Such patients may not mostly survive through the second decade of their lives.
One such case, as described here, was with a year-old infant Neha, In India. She faced growth milestones, and on examination. Her parents found that she had this rare metabolic disorder called mucopolysaccharidoses Vi (MPS VI).
After discussions with doctors. Neha’s parents planned a second baby and used its cord fluid for Neha’s treatment.
ُThe newborn’s stem cells were used for her sister.
Post-transplant, the infant girl can now talk, walk, respond clearly, and lives like a normal child.
To sum up, Umbilical cord fluid can be very useful to treat rare, but lethal diseases. It is more beneficial when the cord blood comes from a sibling or close relative. It raises the disease-free survival rate.