"Exceptional Care for Families with Newborns"

Northeast Doulas Interview Marion Welch of Cryo-Cell

In the past decade or so, stem cell research has made a huge impact in the media and public eye. Whether positive or negative association, there is no question that the use of stem cells have saved lives.

Part of our mission is to educate families about the different options they have for their baby’s health and wellbeing.

One of the options parents have is to store the baby’s umbilical cord blood.

The use of stem cells in cord blood is fascinating and is on the forefront of medical treatments for devastating diseases and illnesses. As with any delicate and often controversial process, most people don’t understand the details and there’s bound to be questions.

These stem cells found in cord blood are extremely powerful and through responsible conservation and research, are changing the course of regenerative medicine. Cryo-Cell’s storage and research facility keeps parents informed about the process of stem cell research, innovations in the field, and emerging benefits of cell regeneration.

We wanted to learn more.

Recently we were given the opportunity to ask more questions about cord blood and the benefits of storage from Marion Welch, giving us a better understanding of Cryo-Cell’s process and new discoveries in stem cell treatments.

Why are stem cells are so important to medicine?

Most expectant families have read or heard about stem cells and the excitement they have generated in the medical research world. Stem cell treatment is on everyone’s radar (for good reason). But stem cells are different from other cell types such as blood cells, brain cells, and muscle cells.

They are unique because they have these three special properties:

They are unspecialized cells; this means that they have not developed into a mature specialized cell type.

They are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods.

Under certain conditions, they can turn into specialized cell types. This process is calleddifferentiation.

Because of these abilities, in particular stem cells’ ability to differentiate into an enormous range of healthy functioning cells, virtually any disease that results in cellular and tissue destruction can potentially be treated by stem cells.  Stem cells represent a potential opportunity to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, spinal cord injuries, retinal disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

How can cord blood help your child and members of your immediate family?

Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic (blood-derived) stem cells, which generate every type of blood and immune cell. These cells are already being used to treat close to 80 diseases including cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia and inherited metabolic disorders. Over 30,000 transplants worldwide have already been performed using stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

Cord Blood and Cord Tissue stem cells are naïve, or immature, and their ability to repopulate several different cell populations in the body is unique. Stem cells taken from your newborn’s umbilical cord blood are a great source of cells for not only the baby’s use, but they can be highly effective when used allogenically (other persons) for treatment. This is due to the immature immune nature of cord blood stem cells, and results in being able to more easily identify a match when compared to other accepted sources such as bone marrow.  

This means that these cells can be used not only to safeguard that specific child’s future, but they can be most likely used to treat their siblings, parents, and other close relatives, in the event that a disease manifests itself.

Umbilical cord tissue, able to be collected at the same time as umbilical cord blood, is rich in mesenchymal (tissue-derived) stem cells which are currently being used in many clinical trials investigating the treatment of cardiomyopathy, heart disease, ulcerative colitis, stroke, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. Clinical trials are currently being conducted for children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, autism, traumatic brain injuries and hearing loss.

Research has shown that cord blood stem cells can be effectively used for regeneration or repair, of non-hematopoietic tissues, such as the repair of joint damage through cartilage regeneration.  Studies have also demonstrated that these cells are effective at reducing inflammation, and in the treatment of neurological disorders (e.g. ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke) that can occur later in life.

How is the cord blood and umbilical cord tissue actually collected?

Cord blood and cord tissue are collected immediately after the birth of the baby by your caregiver (e.g. ob/gyn, nurse, midwife.) If you are pulsing the cord, you can still collect your baby’s cord blood and cord tissue after the pulsing has ceased.

The collection process can be performed with either vaginal or cesarean section deliveries and there is absolutely no pain or risk to the mother or child. The umbilical cord is clamped and cut in the same manner as it would be for normal delivery of the baby. Using a cord blood collection bag, blood is drawn from the umbilical cord. Following the collection of the cord blood, approximately six inches of the cord tissue is procured and placed in a sterile container.

Where is the future of cord blood and stem cell useheaded?

While the future is impossible to predict, one thing remains certain: the research, use, and benefits of stem cells will expand and increase. In less than a decade, the number of disease indications treated with cord blood has more than doubled. Research for future uses of these stem cells, such as the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes and heart defects.  Only the surface has been scratched when it comes to discovering the potential of these cells to treat diseases and disorders.  

We encourage parents to stay informed as medicine evolves and explore options for your baby’s birth.

Together we can create a brighter tomorrow for our family’s health.

If you are looking for more information on stem cell research or how to pursue cord blood banking, Contact Marion Welch at mwelch@cryo-cell.com