Cord Blood Banking May Provide An Effective Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At that time, fewer than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.[i] Currently, 26 million people worldwide suffer from the disease. It is predicted that Alzheimer’s disease will possibly affect over 100 million people by 2050, yet there are no effective therapies for the disease.[ii] However, hope is on the horizon. New research shows that those parents who bank their baby’s cord blood may be providing them in the years to come with a viable treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Power of umbilical cord blood stem cells to treat disease

Transplants using cord blood stem cells have gained positive acceptance over the years in research and clinical settings as a method to treat acquired and genetic diseases. Cord blood banking has enabled the successful use of cord blood stem cells to improve outcomes in many diseases especially in hematological malignancies, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, cardiovascular disease and preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease. [iii] Cord blood stem cells have shown therapeutic potential in animal models of multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), age-related macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, types 1 and 2 diabetes and lupus.[iv]
While cord blood can only be collected at the time of a baby’s birth, cord blood banking companies enable cord blood stem cells to be safely cryopreserved and the cells remain viable for years. Furthermore, with weak immunogenicity (cord blood stem cells have a greater potential to match more people for transplant), prompt availability and decreased risk of transmissible viral infections, human umbilical cord blood stem cells may represent the best alternative for cell based therapy.[v]

Effects of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia, is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder. Patients suffering from the disease exhibit a combination of signs ranging from memory loss, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, as well as changes in mood and personality.[vi] The progression of the disease eventually leads to an inability to independently and safely perform acts of daily living.
Medically, Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a buildup of what is known as β-amyloid plaques. The toxic function of this peptide in the brain is reported in many studies. Generally, Aβ accumulation in the brain causes localized inflammation.[vii]
Because human umbilical cord blood stem cells have been shown to promote an anti-inflammation benefit, it is therefore possible that these cells may also prove to be effective in disorders that involve inflammation, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Previous studies involving mice models of Alzheimer’s disease showed improved learning, memory and motor function as well as a reduction in reduced cognitive impairment and behavioral deficits. [viii]

A new study

The recent study, published in Cell Transplantation, is a preliminary investigation to better understand the safety, and feasibility of using human umbilical cord blood cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease.[ix] This study, explains lead author, Dr. Jared Ehrhart, set out to determine whether the transplanted cells successfully migrate to the target tissue and are retained there without promoting tumor growth. [x] It was equally important to characterize which organs these cells migrate to and how long they maintain a presence in these tissues.
Dr. Ehrhart of Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, is also the head of research at Cryo-Cell International. Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Inc. an affiliate of Cryo-Cell International, is a biotechnology R&D company, focusing on neurological and cardiac cell therapy for the early intervention and treatment of several devastating or deadly diseases, which lack adequate treatment options.  Cryo-Cell International, together with Saneron, holds more cord blood patents than any other cord blood bank.

The results

The researchers were able to determine that human umbilical cord blood cells distribute widely throughout the body, including brain and spinal cord, within 24 hours after a single intravenous injection and can remain in these organs for up to 30 days. Their findings indicated that a minimally invasive procedure, such as intravenous injection, can be implemented and yield significant therapeutic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, researchers did not find any tumors in the animals that were transplanted with human umbilical cord blood stem cells. Tumor formation is a serious drawback to stem cell transplantation that often occurs with other varieties of cells.
"Human umbilical cord blood stem cells are a very prolific source of non-embryonic stem cells, making them attractive candidates for future transplantation studies for neurological diseases or injuries," said Dr. John R. Sladek, Jr., professor of Neurology, Pediatrics, and Neuroscience, Department of Neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and section editor for Cell Transplantation[xi]. “Data reported in this study put forth the exciting notion that therapeutic effects can be attained after a single low dose of cells and has set the stage for more in-depth analyses," says Dr. Sladek. This puts umbilical cord blood stem cells on the forefront of possible treatments for a number of neurodegenerative diseases. While cord blood banking costs have to be considered, the potential long-term benefit of having access to these cells is rapidly increasing.

[i] "National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month | Alzheimer's Association." National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month | Alzheimer's Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.
[ii] "Transplanted Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells May Offer Therapy for Alzheimer's Sufferers." EurekAlert! N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.
[iii] “Human Umbilical Cord Blood-Derived Monocytes Improve Cognitive Deficits and Reduce Amyloid-β Pathology in PSAPP Mice.” Darlington, Donna; Li, Song; Hou, Huayan; Habib, Ahsan; Tian, Jun; Gao, Yang; Ehrhart, Jared; Sanberg, Paul R; Sawmiller, Darrell; Giunta, Brian; Mori, Takashi; Tan, Jun. Cell Transplantation, Volume 24, Number 11, 2015, pp. 2237-2250(14)
[iv] Ehrhart, J.; Darlington, D.; Kuzmin-Nichols, N. et al. Bio-Distribution of Infused Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells in Alzheimer's Disease-Like Murine Model. Cell Transplant. Appeared or available on-line: September 25, 2015.
[v] Darlington, Donna et all, ibid.
[vi] National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month | Alzheimer's Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.
[vii] Darlington, Donna et all, ibid.
[viii] Ibid.
[ix] "Transplanted Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells May Offer Therapy for Alzheimer's Sufferers." EurekAlert! N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.
[x] Ibid.
[xi] Ibid.
Posted: 11/6/2015 4:29:32 PM by Valeria Arcila