What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are considered to be the body's "master" cells because they create all other tissues, organs, and systems in the body. The stem cells found in cord blood are the building blocks of your blood and immune system and most readily reproduce into:
Red Blood Cells - which carry oxygen to all the cells in the body
White Blood Cells - which fight infection
Platelets - which aid in clotting in the event of injury
There are three sources where stem cells are commonly found and they are:
- Bone Marrow
- Peripheral Blood (the blood that circulates through your body)
- Umbilical Cord Blood
The ability of cord blood stem cells to differentiate, or change into other types of cells in the body is a new discovery that holds significant promise for improving the treatment of some of the most common diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's.
There are many exciting advances happening with stem cells. Right now, doctors are focusing on newborn stem cells and their potential to: • Regenerate brain cells—to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease • Repair nerve cells—to heal brain and spinal cord injuries or brain damage caused by stroke • Regenerate cells to form new blood vessels—to treat heart and circulatory disease and to • Replace damaged cells—to improve recovery from cardiovascular disease, a heart attack, or injury. By saving your newborn’s stem cells, you provide your child with options to benefit from these emerging therapies.
Although they are routinely discarded, newborn stem cells have unique biology that is important in medical treatments. Newborn stem cells are 8-10 times more proliferative than adult cells, and are much more compatible with family members versus adult cells. For example, siblings are twice as likely to be compatible with their newborn cells compared to their same adult stem cells. And unlike adult cells, newborn stem cells are “healthy” in that they have not been exposed to viruses, pollution, or disease in the vast majority of cases.