What Stem Cells Can and Can’t Do

The Power of Cord Blood

By Dr. Manny

Stem cells have an amazing ability to regenerate healthy blood cells, a useful characteristic for life-threatening diseases like leukemia.

However, it’s important to note that stem cell therapy has both proven and experimental uses. At the same time, many people don’t understand the benefits or recommended ways of donating cord blood for its most beneficial use.

How Cord Blood Is Related to Stem Cells

Cord blood is a rich source of a cell type called hematopoietic stem cells, cells that can turn into red or white blood cells or platelets.

In fact, stem cells are essentially immature blood cells, as explained by the National Cancer Institute.

These cells can be harvested in bone marrow or directly from the blood. But cord blood from a placenta may be an easier harvesting method with fewer complications.

According to Dr. Keith Wonnacott, Chief of Cellular Therapies at the FDA, retrieving stem cells from cord blood is generally safe because it’s performed after birth of the baby and placenta.

Stem Cell Uses: What’s Approved and What’s Not

However, the FDA notes that hematopoietic stem cells only have one approved use: treatment of blood diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. Approved treatments simply transplant these cells for hematopoietic conditions.

Still, researchers are experimenting with stem cell therapy for other conditions, notes a report of the stem cell industry in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Those conditions include neurological disorders like autism, encephalopathy and cerebral palsy.

The authors state that researchers think these cells can help with regenerating brain cells … Read more. 

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