The odds of needing one's own cord blood are likely to rise in the future as new discoveries are made for the treatment of certain diseases with cord blood. Since the inception of cord blood transplantation (UCBT) in 1988, the idea of using cord blood as an alternative treatment to other more commonly known methods was a far-fetched concept. However, this will mark the 31st year anniversary of the first successful UCBT performed in France on a young boy with the rare disease, Fanconi Anemia (FA); and to date, there have been nearly 40,000 performed cord blood stem cell transplants.
Cord blood stem cells are becoming a topic of conversation among many new parents. Expectant parents face many difficult decisions. One critical decision that is becoming more commonplace is whether or not parents should bank their baby’s cord blood. Beyond that, there is also the consideration of whether cord blood should be banked publicly or privately. Really, what are the odds that you will need to use your child’s cord blood for your child, their sibling, or yourself?
These questions need to be explored, and parents have the right to be educated on the gravity of such decisions. To gain clarity on the subject, let’s review what current clinical research is indicating for the future of cord blood stem cells and take a look at the statistics.
Probability of Cord Blood Use in Rising
A study done showed that incidences of diseases treated with HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplantation) and of HSCTs performed increased with age, increasing even further after age 40. The study also concluded that numbers were higher for men than women. The overall probability of undergoing autologous HSCT (transplant using your own cord blood stem cells) and allogeneic HSCT (transplant using someone else's cord blood stem cells) is rising and most likely will continue to do so given increases in donor participation.
One source claims that 1 in 217 of people in the U.S. will actually undergo (not just need) a stem cell transplant by the time they turn 70. To further break these statistics down, the study reported that: 1 in 435 people will receive their own stem cells for treatment; 1 in 400 persons will receive someone else’s stem cells, and the combined total number of stem cell transplants will be 1 in 217 persons. What these statistics don’t account for is the number of patients who may have needed a stem cell transplant at some point during their lifetime. Those numbers are assumed to be much higher. The numbers continue to climb if you consider the fact that stem cells from cord blood have been used to treat 80 diseases, thus far.
Imagine, if you are diagnosed with one of the given 80 diseases treated with stem cell transplantation. Even if the state of your disease were to never progress to the point of requiring a stem cell transplant, you would feel better knowing someone in your family has banked. To better illustrate the likelihood of use, consider that an estimated combined total of 176,200 people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma in 2019. Cord blood is being used to effectively treat leukemia and other forms of cancers. Research seems to support the fact that new treatments are being discovered and how cord blood is being used is expanding. Diseases such as Alzheimer's which affects 26 million people worldwide, or, Diabetes which is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., are proving to be successfully treated with cord blood stem cell transplantation. Thus, the need to bank cord blood will continue to rise as we find new ways to treat once uncurable conditions through the use of cord blood and cord tissue stem cells. Banking privately provides you with the assurance and the opportunity to manage these increasingly common conditions and to give you the best outcome by using cord blood stem cells that are as closely matched as possible.
New Findings Suggest More Uses for Cord Blood
As discussed, cord blood is an FDA-approved treatment for 80 diseases, including numerous types of malignancies, anemias, inherited metabolic disorders, and deficiencies of the immune system. To date, there are more than 30 FDA-regulated clinical trials researching medical uses for cord blood stem cells, including studies for cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, juvenile diabetes, hearing loss, and speech disorders. The scope of regenerative medicine is including the use of cord blood stem cells as a strong link to a cure for these types of conditions.
Clinical trials are being performed which indicate favorable effects of cord blood infusion in the treatment of brain hypoxia and stroke. The odds of a child being born with a brain injury is reported to be 2 out of 1,000 of all full-term births, with it being ten times more common among pre-term births. One study reported a 97% overall survival rate after a year follow-up of 184 children who had a brain injury and underwent autologous (using the child’s own stem cells) CB infusion. There are also ongoing trials taking place to treat other forms of brain injury, such as neonatal oxygen deprivation in infants, and occurences of adult brain injury, through the use of cord blood stem cells. Learn more here.
Other relevant studies are taking place regarding cord blood therapy in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Autism currently affects 1 in 59 children in the U.S. Clinical trial studies indicate promising results for autism. After a Duke University clinical trial phase one study, researchers found that more than two-thirds of the 25 children given an intravenous infusion of their own cord blood showed dramatic improvements in their sensory, social, repetitive and manipulative behaviors; as well as in their receptive and expressive communication. Other medical and research institutes are adopting further studies into stem cell use in the cure for autism as the CDC announced a 15% increase in national occurrence from just two years ago.
Moreover, cord blood has been used with success to treat young children with metabolic diseases like adrenoleukodystrophy and infantile Krabbe's disease. The FDA has standardized cord blood stem cell transplantation in treating mucopolysaccharidoses storage diseases, leukodystrophy disorders, lysosomal storage diseases, as well as a few inherited metabolic disorders. See a complete list here.
CP is the most common motor-function disability in children, affecting approximately one in 323. Duke University conducted a phase II clinical trial which involved following 63 children between the ages of one and six who incurred brain damage before or after birth, and who had CP classified as a level 2-4 on the Gross Motor Classification System. The study indicated that children who received a larger dose of cord blood stem cell transplant demonstrated a more substantial increase in normalized total brain connectivity and in the sensorimotor network than participants who received lower doses.
Ongoing research supports the fact that one's own cord blood could prove to be an effective treatment in neurological and degenerative diseases. Discoveries in the realm of regenerative medicine are showing benefits of cord blood banking to treat other pediatric neurological disorders like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), apraxia, ataxia, hydrocephalus, in-utero stroke, and other forms of traumatic brain injury. Even more promising, are the advances in treating other conditions like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, hearing loss, sports injuries involving torn knee cartilage, and so much more. The breakthroughs taking place could prove to be monumental in the approach to how we view and treat these types of diseases.
The Importance of Cord Blood Banking
Studies have shown that transplant success rates correlate with donor cell matches. In other words, the closer the donor's cells match, the better for the recipient. Donors related to the patient are the best match.
Banking privately ensures that your child's cord blood would be available for you, or your children should you ever need it. According to the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, family member banking is encouraged when there is a sibling with a disease that has the potential to be successfully treated with an allogeneic transplant. They also recommend banking your child's cord blood for cases in which a cord blood donation would otherwise be deemed ineligible for public banking- for example, maternal history of hepatitis.
Your baby’s own cord blood is always a 100% match for them- which makes it the preferred method for transplantation. Siblings from the same parents have a 75% chance of being a perfect or partial match (25% chance of being a perfect match and a 50% chance of being a partial match). Likewise, a child's cord blood always serves as a 50% match for either parent.
Similarly, patients with the same ethnic background are more likely to be a potential match. 28% of umbilical cord blood transplants were for transplant patients of color in 2018. One scientific study concluded the difficulty for Black, Hispanic, and White patients of non-Western European background to find fully matched adult volunteer donors. The Cord Blood Connection Conference given last year indicated that 50% of minority patients who needed a blood stem cell transplant were unable to find a suitable match. This fact expounds upon the need to bank privately, especially for families of various ethnic backgrounds.
This same study showed that the number of publicly donated cord blood units was estimated to be around 700,000, and over 40,000 UCB transplantations were performed. Over 25,000 patients have been cured through this method.
The Future of Cord Blood Looks Promising
As medical science continues to advance, and clinical trial results are released, there will continue to be an obvious need for cord blood banking. We are just scratching the surface of what is and what can be possible in terms of cord blood use in treating diseases.
We all want to protect what matters most to us. The stem cells found in cord blood are known to be packed with regenerative properties and characteristics that make this type of transplantation more successful. Privately banking with a long-standing company such as Cryo-Cell Intl. that has a 100% viability rate of units released for transplant, should be considered when researching your options.
In cases where double infusion is necessary for treatment, or more cord blood is needed beyond the initial transplant, it is crucial for patients to have access to multiple retrievals. Cryo-Cell International understands this need and offers a 5-chamber multi-compartment storage bag with five independently sealed compartments. Read more about the benefits of banking with Cryo-Cell here.
What was once deemed improbable is now becoming more likely. The past thirty years have seen an explosive rate in research and understanding of how cord blood and cord tissue can be used. As parents, we have the responsibility of making tough choices. To take the first step is to educate ourselves on the reality of what is and to be open to the real possibility of what could be. Our generation is embarking on some exciting and innovative medical discoveries in terms of treatment. We are learning that cord blood is not merely used for treating children, but the odds of treating diseases that are diagnosed in the latter years of life have proven to be significantly more foreseeable.