Umbilical Cord Blood, Cancer, and Tissue Research

In the state of California, more and more people are choosing to preserve their child’s umbilical cord blood. In cases of bone marrow cancer, this rich in mesenchymal stem cell blood can be used in place of an extract from a healthy bone marrow donor. It is a perfect HLA tissue match for your child, or a potential good match for any siblings, should they ever develop leukemia.HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) tissue testing checks for matches on the surface of white blood cells. White blood cells are the body’s primary defense mechanism. They check cells on a regular basis to see if they are self or a non-self invader. If the cell is a threat, the white blood cell in a healthy individual will destroy it. That is why it is so important for most of the loci (spots on the surface of the cell) to be the same. If leucocytes are introduced into an already failing body that are too dissimilar, the remaining self white blood cells will attack them. Preservation of cord blood insures that your child will have a perfect match available.Long term studies indicate that 80% of cord blood preserved at extremely low temperatures in liquid nitrogen remain viable for a minimum of 15 years. Cord blood has ten times more of a loci labeled CD34 making it easy to identify. Cells with CD34 on their surface are most likely mesenchymal stem cells.Mesenchymal stem cells in the right environment will change into a variety of cell types. In cases of blood cancers, an infusion of mesenchymal stem cells can trigger an increase in white blood cells. This ability of the stem cell to transform into a wide variety of cells types makes them a favorite of tissue engineers. Research is currently underway using these special cord blood derived cells to grow replacement parts unique to each individual. The future benefits of preserving cord blood are convincing many residents in California to save their own child’s blood and perhaps save their life one day.

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