Cord blood stem cell research
But, stem cell research is changing rapidly and while today's medicine generally tries to support or treat injured tissues and organs, it may be that stem cells may one day simply replace them. Instead of giving insulin to diabetics why not give them cells that can produce insulin in their body as needed? Some researchers say stem cells may have the wonder-working potential for reversing heart disease, diabetes, stokes and spinal-cord injury. Stem cell research could even lead to cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. While much progress has been made in the last few years, so much is still experimental.
Potential therapeutic uses of stem cells are for cures in the areas of diabetes, brain diseases like Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and even cancer treatments. Stem cell research may also be helpful in improving livestock and other animal life.
Benefits of adult stem cell research
- Adult stem cells are easy to obtain and potentially limitless in supply
- Patients can use their own stem cells for treatment and therapy
- Adult stem cell therapies have already shown promising results in treating blood diseases and cancer
- Adult stem cells are politically neutral and not offensive to any major interest group nor do they generate controversy
Acquired brain injury - or "ABI" - refers to any damage to the brain that occurs after birth. That damage can be caused by an accident or trauma, by a stroke, a brain infection, or by diseases of the brain like Huntington's disease.
Brain Injury is common. More than 500,000 Australians have an acquired brain injury. Leading medical centres, are now undertaking groundbreaking clinical research using cord blood stem cells to improve outcomes after brain injury. Circumstances of treatment include anoxic brain injury at birth, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injury.
- Researchers at the Henry Ford Health Sciences Centre, Detroit, USA have shown that intravenous injections of cells from human umbilical cord blood improved the neurological and motor function of rats recovering from severe traumatic brain injury.
- Researchers at Duke University and the University of Texas, USA are participating in groundbreaking clinical research to use cord blood stem cells to improve outcomes after brain injury, including anoxic brain injury at birth, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks and subsequently damages the 'myelin sheath' protecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This damage causes messages to and from the brain to be slowed, distorted or stop altogether.
MS affects more than 18,000 Australia's and currently there is no cure. However, there is a great deal of scientific and media interest in stem cells as a possible treatment. In particular autologous blood stem cells are being trialed in active forms of MS.
Clinical trials using stem cell transplants as a therapy for multiple sclerosis currently use autologous bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells from the patient, not cord blood. This is largely due to the relatively later onset of the disease in contrast with the relative short time that private cord blood has been available. Initial results are promising as the transplants seem to have slowed the progression of MS in some patients.
Researchers believe that stem cells are likely to help improve disease in several ways, including neuroprotection and immune modulation.
Cord blood and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the nerve cells degenerate and die the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.
Research in animals suggests that there may be a role for cord blood stem cells in helping patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In one study at the University of South Florida researchers transplanted human umbilical cord blood cells into mouse models with ALS. Results demonstrated that the moderate-strength dose of cells was most effective in increasing lifespan and reducing disease progression. Although the mechanism underlying the beneficial effect of cord blood cells for repairing diseased motor neurons in ALS still needs more clarification, the results are encouraging and cell therapy may in the future offer a more promising new treatment .
1. University of South Florida Health. "Umbilical Cord Blood Cell Transplants May Help ALS Patients" ScienceDaily 26 June 2008. 1 September 2010.
Cord blood and Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It is an irreversible, progressive and eventually fatal disease of the brain that slowly results in impaired memory, thinking skills and behaviour.
In 2008, the journal Stem Cells and Development announced the results of a research project being carried out by a collaboration of researchers from the University of Florida, Yale University, New Haven, Cedars Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Incorporated and The Saintama Medical School, Japan. Together they have studied mice models involving the use of cord blood stem cell therapy, which they claim may potentially be used to treat Alzheimer's disease.
The study was carried out using a series of low-dose injections of umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cells into mice with Alzheimer's-like disease. They found that the introduction of UCB stem cells appeared to have a significant effect on the mouse brain's inflammatory activity. In particular, inflammation of the brain was greatly reduced and disease progression was recorded as being less aggressive.
Their findings suggest that the use of UCB stem cells may alleviate the symptoms of several important changes within the brain associated with this condition and may improve its pathology and cognitive decline. Notably, the production of amyloid-beta proteins and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, both associated with Alzheimers, was reduced by 62 and 86 per cent respectively .
1. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News (2008, March 27). Umbilical Cord Blood Cell Therapy May Treat Cognitive Decline Of Alzheimer's Disease, Animal Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
Cord blood and inherited metabolic disorders
Hurler's syndrome causes progressive deterioration of the central nervous system and death in childhood. Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation before the age of two years halts disease progression and prolongs life, but many children lack a bone marrow donor. A team lead by Joanne Kurtzberg, M.D., at Duke University, USA conducted a study using cord-blood transplants from unrelated donors and concluded that cord-blood transplantation favourably altered the natural history of Hurler's syndrome and therefore may be important to consider in young children with this form of the disease.
Infantile Krabbe's disease produces progressive neurologic deterioration and death in early childhood. In a study led by Joanne Kurtzberg, M.D., at the University of North Carolina, transplantation of umbilical-cord blood from unrelated donors favorably altered the natural history of the disease. Children who underwent transplantation after the onset of symptoms had minimal neurologic improvement.
want to know more?
For more articles, local directories of shops and services, checklists, calculators and more visit our...:: pregnancy & birth info hub