Umbilical cord blood banking is a process where umbilical cord blood is preserved for future usage. Both federal and private blood banks do this for umbilical cord blood transplants for curing ailments of the blood and immune system.
How umbilical cord blood is collected
The collection of blood from the umbilical cord takes place once the umbilical cord has been severed and pulled out from the end to which the fetus is joined. The amount of collection might vary from 75+/-23 ml from the newborn baby. The entire procedure is carried out within a period of 10 minutes from the delivery. Prior to the storing of cord blood, viral testing is conducted on the blood sample.
- Hepatitis B and C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
- Tissue typing is also performed on the blood sample for ascertaining the HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) type.
Other tests performed on the cord blood sample include the following:
- Cell viability
- Nucleated cell count
- CD34 (Molecule cluster)
- Blood group antigen (Rh and ABO)
- Fungal and bacterial growth
Why is umbilical cord blood banking necessary?
After the successful birth or delivery of a baby, the placenta is discharged by the body of the mother. The placenta is the organ which supplies food and oxygen to the baby when it is in the womb/uterus. Till the 1970s, both the umbilical cord and the placenta were removed following deliveries without any reconsideration. At that juncture, scientists found out that the blood of umbilical cord can work as a source of similar types of blood-producing stem cells or hematopoietic cells like a bone marrow donor. As a result, the procedure of collecting and storing of umbilical cord blood commenced.
The hematopoietic stem cells of the cord blood act as producer of all types of blood cells and they are as follows:
Red blood cells (RBC) – work as a carrier of oxygen to the cellsPlatelets – necessary for coagulation or clotting of blood.
White blood cells (WBC) – assist in building immunity.
What are the advantages of umbilical cord blood banking?
1) Treatment of diseases
At present, the stem cells of the umbilical cord blood are used for curing a large number of life-endangering ailments including cancer, hereditary disorders, and blood abnormalities associated with the blood and immune system.
2) Usage in bone marrow transplantation
Cord blood has a number of advantages over the conventional method of bone marrow transplant, especially in babies. It may turn out to be a lifesaving factor in events when an appropriate bone marrow donor is not available. This is particularly beneficial because bone marrow transplant patients are serious patients who need urgent care and the transplant procedure needs to be performed within a decisive period.
3) Usage in regenerative medicine
Cord blood is also used in the field of regenerative medicine research, which is a domain where remedies for regrowing or restoring particular tissues of the human body are formulated.
4) Usage in research for curing other ailments
Stem cells from cord blood also have application in the research for curing disorders like Type 1 Diabetes, deafness, cerebrovascular accident and brain injury.
From the point of view of stem cells:
1) Secure and simple collection
Collection of stem cells from cord blood is not a risky procedure for either the mother or the infant.
2) Higher number of matches
In order to carry out a successful bone marrow transplantation, there should be an almost ideal match of particular HLA of the receiver and the donor. Siblings or family members have a higher probability of being a match. When stem cells are collected from cord blood, there is higher likelihood that the donor cells will engraft or accept in spite of the fact there is a tissue mismatch in part. So, cord blood ensures that recipients are more likely to get a suitable match.
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3) Quicker availability
A matched donor can be quickly found with the help of the countrywide cord blood and bone marrow registries.
4) Lower risk of GVHD (graft versus host disease) and infections
The risk of graft versus host disease and infections is less in case of cord blood since the stem cells of cord blood are not fully formed and don’t have the capacity to hit the recipient. According to researchers performed in 2000, the probability of occurring GVHD in cord blood transplant is 59% lower than bone marrow transplant.