What Are Umbilical Stem Cells

Stem cells are the undifferentiated cells that have the ability to develop into different cell types and can finally give rise to complete individual. The stem cells are of two types: embryonic stem cells and the adult or somatic stem cells. Initially the stem cells from bone marrow which are adult stem cells were used for the treatment of different types of blood related cancers which was a painful process. Now cord blood stem cells have been successfully used for the treatment of bllod cacer and many other blood related disorders.

What are umbilical stem cells?

Umbilical cord connects the fetus and the mother and is a channel for the flow of nutrients from mother to the baby. From this umbilical cord, flows blood which has pluripotent stem cells in it. The cord and cord blood which is generally discarded after the birth of the baby can serve as a great source of stem cells. The cord blood has been used from a long time now for the treatment of disease which was earlier treated by the use of bone marrow transplantation like blood cancer. The umbilical cord blood is pluripotent in nature and can thus develop into only a few types of cells. The umbilical cord blood is taken out with the help of a syringe from the cord after the baby is detached from the placenta. The blood collected thus is then processed to collect the stem cells called hematopoietic cells. These cells can be used to correct blood related disorders and certain genetic diseases. The cord stem cells require being stored in a well hygienic condition and at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius. Freezing these stem cells at such low temperature prevents their damage due to environment, age and viruses. The stem cells collected from the cord blood is not enough to treat patient of his condition and need to be expanded by using expansion protocol according to the needs of the patient.

The umbilical cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells which can mainly develop into blood cells or cells of the immune system whereas the cord itself is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells. While cord blood is mostly used in the treatment of blood related disorders, mesenchymal stem cells being multipotent can develop into any type of cell and tissue and hence is under study for its role in mitigating different diseases. The umbilical stem cell is known to be used in the treatment of almost 70 types of diseases. The cord and the cord blood do not contain embryonic stem cells and hence are not controversial and their use is purely ethical in nature.