Learn about the differences and potential uses of cord blood vs. cord tissue stem cells below.
In this article:
- Types of Stem Cells Found
- Collection Process
- Diseases Treated
- Cord Blood vs. Cord Tissue
Cord Blood vs. Cord Tissue Stem Cells | A Closer Look
There are cells contained within a newborn’s umbilical cord blood and cord tissue that can be collected and stored for future medical use. In the sections below, we explore the differences between these valuable cell types.
Cord blood is a rich deposit of stem cells found in the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth. When the umbilical cord is clamped and cut during delivery, it leaves 80 to 120 ml of blood. The remaining blood is then taken from the cord and placenta using a surgical needle and stored into a sterile bag.
Although there’s only a small amount of collected blood, it already has plenty of a specific type of adult stem cell that can form the immune system and the blood. Most importantly, the stem cells are ready to be isolated, extracted, and preserved for potential use in treating various types of diseases.
Cord tissue is the baby’s actual umbilical cord. It is an abundant source of specialized cells not found in the cord blood. When the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, a portion of it can be preserved for potential future use.
Like cord blood, it is rich in a specific type of stem cell that can form circulatory tissues, sensory organs, nervous system, bones, skin, and others. The type of stem cells found in the cord tissue is also collected and preserved for future medical uses.
Type of Stem Cells Found
Another difference between cord blood and cord tissue is the type of stem cells they contain. The specific stem cell found in the cord blood is called hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that form the blood and immune cells in the body. HSCs extracted from the cord blood are considered to be more primitive than those from bone marrow or peripheral blood, with some advantages including high proliferation.
The stem cells found in the cord tissue are called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that develop into skeletal tissues. They are multipotent, in that they can create more than one specialized cell type. For example, they can turn into cartilage, bone, and fat cells. Each of these specialized cells has their own structures, functions, and characteristic shapes.
A sample of the cord blood is taken from the umbilical cord just a few minutes post-birth. Usually, the collection process starts when a surgical needle is inserted into the vein of the clamped umbilical cord for blood extraction. But, there are three ways to collect the stem cells. First is to hang a blood bag in a lower level than the mother, allowing gravity to draw blood into the tube to the bag. This method only has minimal risks for contamination and mistakes.
The second method is to actively draw blood out, like drawing blood in a medical test. It can be performed using a syringe or a bulb in the blood bag tubing for suction. This method makes drawing blood faster with larger volumes.
The last method is collecting the cord blood outside the uterus. Trained professionals wait for the placenta to be delivered, and a technician takes it into another room. They place it on a high shelf to drain all the blood from the umbilical cord.
A 4- to 6-inch segment of the umbilical cord is cut post-birth and is stored in a cord bank. Cord blood banking provides a service that includes cord tissue collection, preparation, and cryo-preservation for potential therapeutic uses. They clean and place the collected tissue in a container with antibiotics for transportation to the lab.
Here’s a list of diseases that cord blood vs. cord tissue stem cells can treat:
- blood-related diseases, such as anemia and leukemia
- autoimmune diseases
- metabolic disorders
- certain types of cancer
- skeletal diseases and injuries
- inflammatory diseases
- heart diseases
- spinal cord injuries
- certain types of cancer
Cord blood is already used in treating over 80 blood-related diseases. It has saved many lives worldwide through more than 40,000 transplants. The majority of these transplants are performed in patients younger than 18 years old. But, with the advancements in technology, it won’t be surprising if people of all ages can take advantage of its therapeutic benefits soon.
New treatments using cord tissue are being studied in over 200 clinical trials. For example, in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), a study was conducted on 20 participants with MS with a median age of 41 years. The participants of the cord tissue research underwent stem cell therapy. Results showed they experienced improvements in their symptoms a month after the treatment.
Cord Blood vs. Cord Tissue
Understanding the differences and potential uses of cord blood vs. cord tissue stem cells provides a better knowledge of what to expect from them. Despite their differences, both offer great therapeutic benefits to major diseases. With some technological advancement, these stem cells can be the key to saving not just thousands, but millions of lives in the near future.
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