Stem cells are magical! They have the power to repair, replicate, and regenerate. The simplest form of cells, these are found in most parts of our body, including blood, bones, skin, and muscles. So, given a choice, does it make sense to preserve stem cells? Let’s find out if stem cells are worth saving for a rainy day and why.
Save the Stem
Simply put, stem cells are the superhero cells. Unlike other cells, they are unspecialized, but that’s what makes them so special. When a stem cell divides, it can become another stem cell or any other type of cell. Under special conditions, these cells can be enticed to become tissue or specialized cells like red blood cells, muscle cells, or brain cells. Their value is immense because they provide a powerful tool for regeneration and repair of the body. There are multiple options for sourcing stem cells – they can be extracted from the bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, placental tissue, menstrual blood, skin, teeth, and embryo.1
Scientists in the area of stem cell research work primarily with two types of stem cells – embryonic (mostly from mice but also from human embryos) and non-embryonic or adult stem cells (any stem cell that is not from the embryos). The design and nature of stem cells and their sheer restorative force throw up the possibility of storing stem cells for future use. Umbilical cord blood is the richest source of pure, young stem cells. Compared to stem cells from bone marrow, umbilical cord stem cells are more popular for storage for a variety of reasons – a pristine form of cells, these are easy to extract, painless for the patient, and more powerful in replication strength and ability to match the recipient. Recently, menstrual blood has also been gaining in popularity. The menstrual flow is a simple biological process of cleaning out the womb when the woman hasn’t conceived. The stem cells found in menstrual blood are said to be as “immunologically immature” as cord blood cells because they are generated each cycle. They can also be extracted
In a transplant situation, because cord blood cells are pure and unsullied, they have greater matching potential with the recipient, increasing the chances of the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) protein markers (used by the body to identify foreign cells) welcoming them in. A study by Vanderson et al. showed how stored cord blood with stem cells from a family can be used to treat a child affected by a disease. The researchers also encouraged further study of cord blood stem cell transplants from unrelated donors.3
In another study, stem cells from the heart area
Stems cells can also come to the rescue in renal malfunctions. In one study, bone marrow stem cells from mice were supplied to the damaged regions of the renal or kidney tubule, with results showing significant repairs courtesy these cells.5
The amazing benefits of stem cells are being unearthed regularly. Stem cells may provide the key to treating illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cerebral palsy, and heart ailments. They may even repair damages to the spine or
Clearly, stem cells sourced from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, or menstrual blood, the most accessible sources, have immense benefits in healing and repairing the body. Cord cells are an easy choice and naturally extracted at the time of birth of a child. The procedure is painless and a one-time activity. Similarly, menstrual blood is available in abundance, given that a woman has roughly 500 cycles in her fertile period. These stem cells can potentially save siblings and family members, and unearthing their potential in saving unrelated donors may only be a matter of time for modern science.
Most stem cell banks now offer provisions to preserve stem cells from cord and menstrual blood. To save these, contact the stem cell preservation service provider nearest to you. They will harvest the stem cells and tissue, mix these with cryopreservation solution so they retain their properties during storage, and freeze them. The cells will then be placed in large stainless steel tanks at -150 degrees celsius with liquid nitrogen. The cells can easily be retrieved in the event of
|↑1||Stem cell information, National Institute of Health.|
|↑2||Patel, Amit N., Eulsoon Park, Michael Kuzman, Federico Benetti, Francisco J. Silva, and Julie G. Allickson. “Multipotent menstrual blood stromal stem cells: isolation, characterization, and differentiation.” Cell transplantation 17, no. 3 (2008): 303-311.|
|↑3||Rocha, Vanderson, John E. Wagner Jr, Kathleen A. Sobocinski, John P. Klein, Mei-Jie Zhang, Mary M. Horowitz, and Eliane Gluckman. “Graft-versus-host disease in children who have received a cord-blood or bone marrow transplant from an HLA-identical sibling.” New England Journal of Medicine 342, no. 25 (2000): 1846-1854.|
|↑4||Chimenti, Isotta, Rachel Ruckdeschel Smith, Tao-Sheng Li, Gary Gerstenblith, Elisa Messina, Alessandro Giacomello, and Eduardo Marbán. “Relative roles of direct regeneration versus paracrine effects of human cardiosphere-derived cells transplanted into infarcted mice.” Circulation research 106, no. 5 (2010): 971-980.|
|↑5||Kale, Sujata, Anil Karihaloo, Paul R. Clark, Michael Kashgarian, Diane S. Krause, and Lloyd G. Cantley. “Bone marrow stem cells contribute to repair of the ischemically injured renal tubule.” The Journal of clinical investigation 112, no. 1 (2003): 42-49.|