Did you know that your child’s cord blood has the potential to cure cancer? Medical professionals across the globe believe that new medical procedures using stem cells derived from cord and placental blood will soon have the ability to cure diseases like cancer and diabetes that result in millions of deaths per year. So how does it work?
These highly innovative cord blood therapies are part of a new field of medical research called Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative Medicine develops treatments to repair or re-grow specific tissue in the body, such as liver, lungs, brains, muscle and blood. This is done primarily by using stem cells, which are located in cord and placental blood in large quantities.
All stem cells have the ability to regenerate themselves, and some kinds of stem cells, called progenitor cells, can actually divide and create almost any kind of cell that lives in our bodies. Unlike the other sources of blood, like bone marrow or circulatory blood, umbilical cord blood happens to be packed with these highly-valuable progenitor cells. Thus, reparative stem cell techniques that use cord blood could stimulate previously irreparable organs into healing and repairing themselves. Stem cell therapies could also empower scientists to grow tissues and organs in vitro (in the laboratory) and safely implant them when the body is unable to be prompted into healing itself.
Physicians and researchers are making fast progress in evaluating the safety and efficacy of using umbilical cord blood stem cells for these new types of therapies. In fact, cord blood stem cells are an increasing focus of regenerative medicine research because a patient’s own blood can be safely infused back into the individual without being rejected by the body’s immune system.
There are many diseases and conditions that stem cell technologies could possibly cure in the near future– including diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, osteoporosis and spinal cord injuries. Ultimately, any disease that results from malfunctioning, damaged, or failing tissues could cured by repairing the damaged body systems involved. Already, these therapies have been successful in pioneer surgeries for congenital heart disease, the most common birth defect which effects nearly 9 in every 1,000 births. Medical professionals, scientists, researchers and government officials alike all envision a world where organs are “on demand,” cancer is eliminated, and paralysis victims can walk again.