Stem Cell Preservation Makes an Ideal Match
Expectant mothers in the final few months of pregnancy, probably have heard, or even learned something about, stem cell preservation. Such preservation begins with the gathering of blood from the umbilical cord after your baby’s birth. Within thirty seconds of the baby’s arrival, one of the doctors or medical staff will cut the umbilical cord and draw about 1/3 of a cup of blood from the cord, and then secure it for transport to a nearby cord blood bank. This is the beginning of the process known as stem cell preservation.
The preservation aspect of stem cell preservation is actually quite uncomplicated. It involves storage of the blood and cells in subzero temperatures known as cryogenic freezing. Of course, there is more to stem cell preservation. The samples go through a detailed labeling and identification process, as well as tests for any transmittable diseases. It’s interesting to note that the cryogenic process is so effective that even the oldest cells available (stem cell preservation from cord blood started in 1990) show limited deterioration as they are used today.
You might be wondering what happens when the cells are thawed and issued and just who qualifies to benefit from cord blood stem cell transplants.
Stem Cell Preservation and Tissue Compatibility
Donors are matched to recipients according to six proteins, called Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA), that appear on the surface of white blood cells and other tissues in the body. These six HLA points determine tissue compatibility which leads us to one of the real benefits of cord blood stem cell preservation. As a minimum, only three of the six HLA points need to be a match for a successful transplant. This makes it easier, and less risky, in finding patients with compatible tissues.
The most likely recipients of treatment from stem cell preservation will be those coming out of chemotherapy or radiation therapy; where the healing process starts by eliminating all the cells in the body. Stem cell preservation maintains cells that are highly adaptable and can be used with patients suffering from a number of diseases among them leukemia, different forms of cancer, and Hodgkin’s disease.
From Stem Cell Preservation to Treatment
The new cells supplied by stem cell preservation enter the body through a tube or central line that goes into a vein in the patient’s chest. The transplanted cells move into the spaces inside the bones where they create new marrow. They grow and make healthy new red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Isn’t that miraculous? The human body certainly is a healing marvel, and modern medicine continues to make vital strides in treating even the most challenging diseases.
At the center of this remarkable healing process is stem cell preservation.