Recent studies have shown that, particularly in children, cord blood has unique advantages over traditional bone marrow transplantation, and can be life-saving in rare cases where a suitable bone-marrow donor cannot be found. About 50 percent of patients requiring a bone marrow transplant do not find a suitable donor within a critical period. Studies have shown that cord blood stem cells can also be used for siblings and other members of your family who have a matching tissue type. Siblings have up to a 75 percent chance of compatibility, and the cord blood may even be 50 percent match for parents and grandparents.
Expectant parents can also collect and preserve stem cells from the tissue of the umbilical cord, whose medical name is Wharton’s Jelly. Whereas cord blood stem cells are rich source of Hematopoietic stem cells that differentiate to form the lineage of blood cells, cord tissue is a rich source of Mesenchymal stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells differentiate to build bone, cartilage and connective tissue, and they are also very effective at mediating the body’s inflammatory response to damaged cells. The cord blood undergoes viral testing, including tests for HIV and Hepatitis B and C, and tissue typing before it is stored for later use. It will also be examined for nucleated cell count, blood group antigen, cell viability, molecule cluster, and bacterial and fungal growth. The cord blood unit is shipped to the lab after the collection, processed, and then cryopreserved. There are many ways to process a cord blood unit, and there are different opinions on what is the best way. There are processing methods that separate out the red blood cells and remove them, while some keep the red blood cells. A cryopreservant is added to the cord blood to allow the cells to survive the cyrogenic method, however the unit is processed. When the unit is slowly cooled to -90 Celsius, it is kept in a liquid nitrogen tank which will be maintained at -196 Celsius. The slow freezing process is important to keep the cord blood stem cells alive during the freezing process.