Over the past 30 years, umbilical cord stem cells have been used to improve and save over a million lives

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Stem Cell Therapies and Clinical Trials

Stem cell banking is a life-saving decision. The regenerative power of stem cells has allowed scientists to research and develop treatments that can replace or repair cells lost or critically damaged through disease. Since its first clinical application in 1988, stem cell therapy has become one of the most exciting fields of medical science, and, over the past 30 years, umbilical cord stem cells have been used to improve and save over a million lives.2 In these three decades, the number of stem cell therapies available has grown dramatically, an increase that shows no signs of slowing given the levels of research and investment currently evident in the field. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are already used as standard therapy for over 85 different diseases, and with research into the relatively new field of regenerative medicine already producing exciting results, the banking of your baby’s stem cells could very well save or vastly improve their life in the future.

 

Current Therapies

Umbilical cord stem cells extracted from both the blood and tissue of your baby’s umbilical cord possess regenerative properties which are now part of the standard therapy regimens for over numerous diseases, including some of the following:

Blood Cancers: Haematological Malignancies and Neuroblastoma

The stem cells extracted from your baby’s cord blood contain haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that can develop into any type of blood cell. This means that they are hugely beneficial in the fight against various blood disorders and cancers, having already been used widely in the treatment of neuroblastoma, leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, and with promising treatments being developed for sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.7

Blood cancers are some of the most common, with more than 27 new cases of leukaemia alone being diagnosed every day in the UK.8. In most of these treatments, stem cell transplants are used to replenish blood-forming cells following high doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy used to destroy cancer cells. HSCs are invaluable to cancer suffers, so having privately banked cells available for transplants almost instantaneously with no chance of rejection post-transplant can make the difference in the fight against the disease.

Neurological Diseases

Current research into neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy (a range of conditions that typically occur during a baby’s development in the womb) suggests that stem cells derived from both cord blood and cord tissue can form the basis of effective treatments of this disorder effecting two to three of every thousand births.9-10 What is more, with experimental and pre-clinical studies for a range of other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, and spinal cord injury all promising a bright future for stem cell‐based cell therapies of neurological diseases.6

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition where the patient’s immune system mistakenly attacks tissue lining their joints, resulting in pain, inflammation and gradual loss of mobility. Thanks to a series of promising clinical trials, the use of MSCs to control the inflammation around joints has become a promising treatment option in recent years, with MSCs preventing the immune systems pathological response without inhibiting its ability to fight infection.11 It is also thought that MSCs could help regenerate lost cartilage and negate the need for painful joint replacement procedures.

Wound Repairs and Sports Injuries

Stem cells are increasingly common in the treatments of acute or chronic bodily injuries. The ability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to develop into tissue cells means they can be used to regenerate or restore tissue and organs, helping to repair damage to tendons, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.3-5 In sports injuries, the application of MSCs can help prevent damaging swelling or scar formation, and can be more effective in restoring functional plasticity than traditional therapies, helping patients recover and continue to live an active life.4-5

 

Future Therapies and Regenerative Medicine

Ground-breaking research is increasing the potential of stem cell therapy for an ever-expanding range of health issues. Most research is centred around regenerative medicine, a new and exciting field of medical research that promises truly remarkable medical advances becoming reality during your child’s lifetime. Regenerative medicine could see major brain or spinal injuries repaired, damage caused by heart disease reversed, or even the growing and transplant of replacement organs and tissues. Such future advances in this field are likely to utilise the power of MSCs, so the MSCs that we at LifeCells will preserve for your child could be used to regenerate and repair damaged cells or even to grow replacement organs and tissues.13 Current research into regenerative therapies is focusing on a wide array of diseases and conditions, including:

Autism; Multiple Sclerosis; Parkinson’s Disease; Alzheimer’s Disease; Cystic Fibrosis; Hearing Loss; Bone Fractures; Burns; Stroke; Crohn’s Disease; Heart Attack; Liver Disease; Diabetes; Spinal Cord Injury; Lung Disease.

 

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are at the heart of medical research. They are controlled research studies where treatments or interventions are administered to groups of people in order to evaluate the impact on their health. Before a new treatment can be widely accepted by medical professionals it must typically pass through three phases of clinical trials: an initial small-scale testing phase aiming to measure the safety and effectiveness of a treatment and refine its process; a second testing phase expands the scale of the initial test to assess whether the treatment is viable on a larger scale and thus worth moving onto the third stage; the third stage compares the new treatment method against the existing standard, giving researchers the chance to refine the treatment process and its overall efficacy.

Where trials involve stem cell-based therapies, they are often investigating diseases or conditions where there are no current treatments. Worldwide, there are over 7,000 registered clinical trials currently exploring the viability and efficacy of stem cell-derived treatments in a wide range of conditions.1 Stem cells have the potential to treat conditions such as spinal cord injury, autism, heart attacks, strokes, sports injuries, blindness, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, bone and cartilage damage, and numerous other conditions. With further research and trialling being undertaken every day, the treatment future is bright indeed.

 

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