You’ve heard about the more than 80 illnesses that umbilical cord stem cells can treat, but how exactly do doctors use cord blood for their patients? The types of diseases and conditions stem cells can help treat — and even cure — are cancers, immune diseases, blood disorders, and metabolic disorders.
Hematopoietic stem cells mostly live in the bone marrow, where they divide to make new blood cells. Once blood cells mature, they leave the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream. Sometimes bone marrow is destroyed by disease, chemotherapy or radiation, and a transplant can restore the lost stem cells.
In a stem cell transplant, the cells collected in cord blood which has been stored for this purpose, are infused into a vein, much like a blood transfusion. The new stem cells travel to the bone marrow, establish themselves there, and start making new, normal blood cells. The healthy new cells will stimulate regeneration of the blood components in the bone marrow that are damaged or defective.
Cord blood stem cells have been used in more than 30,000 transplants to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems. Research and promising new advances are happening every day, and doctors study additional uses for stem cells.
Stay connected, follow us on Twitter.