HISTORY OF UMBILICAL CORD BANKING:
Year - Event
• 1988 - Transplantation of umbilical cord blood in a Fanconi anemia patient with cord blood from a sibling who had the same HLA (human leukocyte antigen)
• 1991 - Opening of the 1st unrelated Cord Blood Bank (CBB) with the help of voluntary donors in New York.
• After 1996 - The need to build Cord Blood Units (CBUs) of high quality to coordinate the transplantation of cord blood.
• 1998 - In order to coordinate the data in each CBB, both nationally and internationally, NETCORD was set up
• Currently- Cord Blood Banking is flourishing
The accreditation of CBBs the world over is done by NetCord-FACT (NetCord- Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy) (2).
Since the last 25 years, the concept of umbilical cord banking has slowly gained importance in this country (3). India has three public umbilical cord banks: Relicord, Jeevan Cord and Stemcyte. The private umbilical cord banks are seven in number; they are Life Cell, Cryo Banks, Cryosave, Cord Life, Baby Cell, Stem One and ISSL (International Stem Cell Service) (4).
TYPES OF UMBILICAL CORD BANKING:
• Cord Blood Banking- After a child’s birth, the collection and storage of blood from the inside of the umbilical cord is done. This is called cord blood banking. The cord blood is stored by two types of banks:
1. Public - These banks store the cord blood by marking it anonymously. One cannot get back the donated cord blood back from the bank.
2. Private - Personalized use by the entire family. Some amount of money has to be paid to take advantage of this set up.
The regulation of cord blood banks is done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (5).
• Cord Tissue Banking- It is the collection, testing, processing and preserving the cord tissue for further treatment processes.
The distinguishing factor between cord blood stem cells and cord tissue stem cells:
The main difference is the type of stem cells that are present in both of them. Cord blood contains haematopoietic stem cells whereas cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells (6).
1. Collecting the cord blood from the newborn is fully risk free and does not require much effort. There is no inconvenience caused either to the mother or her baby.
2. It can be used anytime as per requirements after completing the due process of collection and the necessary tests. The storage of the cord blood is done in a freezer.
3. Transplantation of cord blood does not necessitate that the donor and the recipient have to match fully; a partial match will also make the process a success.
4. The complications seen in patients of cord blood transplants are very few. Even viruses have a very slim chance of spreading infection in the patient (7).
5. If the cord blood stem cells are kept for personalized use in the future, there is an assurance of a match and the sample can be taken up for use immediately (8).
6. The use of umbilical cord blood cells in research dispels many doubts that come up in the field of embryonic stem cell research (as the embryo is not destroyed) (9).
7. The umbilical cord banks contain cord blood and cord tissue. The cord tissue is composed of mesenchymal stem cells that are genetically very stable. This is of great help in clinical trials for various diseases such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis etc (10).
APPLICATIONS OF UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS:
1. Some genetic diseases can be taken care of by transfusing cord blood to the patient e.g. sickle cell anemia (6).
2. In the pediatric population malignancy of the blood can be treated with cord blood transplants (this is for those patients who do not have a family donor).
3. Neurological diseases can be treated with umbilical cord stem cells as they exhibit plasticity. In suitable conditions, they are capable of self-differentiation into cells such as neural cells, cardiac cells etc (7).
4. The stem cells in umbilical cord blood contribute in regenerating insulin, one of the methods to treat juvenile diabetes.
5. In immunotherapy, umbilical cord blood samples act as sources of Treg cells. Treg cells are CD4+ T helper cells that help in immune cell homeostasis (3), (11).
LATEST NEWS REGARDING UMBILICAL CORD STEM CELLS:
1. Development of artificial skin from umbilical cord stem cells (12).
2. Increase in survival rates of patients suffering from leukemia & lymphoma, using UCB stem cells (13).
3. Treating a small child with cerebral palsy using UCB autologous stem cells (14).
4. Reducing pain in the knees through stem cells from umbilical cords (15).
2. Navarrete C, Contreras M. Cord Blood Banking: a historical perspective. British Journal of Haematology. 2009; 147: 236-245.
4. McKenna D, Sheth J. Umbilical cord Blood: Current status & promise for the future. Indian J Med Res 134. 2011; 261-269.
9. Umbilical Cord Blood Banking. RANZCOG College Statement (C-Obs 18). 2013; 1-3.
10. Gong W, Han Z, et al. Banking human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells for clinical use. Cell Transplantation. 2012; 21: 207-216.
Written and emailed by Ms. Deepti Narayan ( also writes on BiotechArticles.com)