Stem cell therapies seem to have been picking up a fair amount of attention recently with some big media stories and positive tales of successful cures, but stem cell banking has actually been taking place since the 1970s. In the field of medical research, stem cell treatments are the great white hope, considered to have enormous potential for advancing the treatments for a huge range of medical conditions.
What is stem cell banking?
Banking stem cells is what forward-thinking parents are opting to do when their newborn arrives. Stem cells are contained in the blood of the umbilical cord and are harvested for storage for possible use in medical applications later on. The collection procedure is quick and painless, taking place shortly after the baby’s delivery. Stem cell and cord blood banks oversee biological material storage such as this, ensuring that precious samples are kept safely and securely in cryogenic facilities. In the future these stem cells could help in the treatment of a number of serious medical conditions affecting the baby or its close blood relatives.
Which illnesses can be treated?
Stem cell banking could save the life of a child or close family member if they were to fall ill with a condition such as leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia or other immune deficiency conditions which respond to bone marrow transplants. Stem cells are unique in that they have yet to be assigned a particular role in the body; this means they are adaptable to a variety of curative roles. With their inherent flexibility, stem cells can be useful in helping with the formation of blood cells, generating organ tissue and bolstering immune systems.
Life threatening conditions, such as leukemia and other blood cancers, have been effectively treated using stem cell treatments. Additional current research into the regenerative applications of stem cells indicate promising results for treatments dealing with cerebral palsy, hearing loss and brain injury. Although still in the very earliest stages, initial results give reason for optimism. Other research into stem cell applications in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Autism are ongoing and will no doubt soon reveal more about the benefits of these powerful super-cells.
Why parents should opt for stem cell banking?
The last thing we are thinking about when our children are born is ‘what if they get ill?’ The whole beautiful and overwhelming experience of childbirth leaves little room for such anxieties, and yet, if there were something we could do to help protect our children against future health problems, we would want to know about it, wouldn’t we? Some families have a history of certain illnesses where stem cell therapies can offer a vital lifeline, if the worst should happen. It is something parents need to be pro-active about.
Ensure that arrangements for collection and storage of cord blood and stem cells are put in place well in advance of baby’s due date. Of course, all parents want to do the best for their children and stem cell banking is just another way of helping safeguard a child’s future health. There are no guarantees with stem cell cures, but with the speed at which this field of medicine is advancing, there is hope in abundance.