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Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Preservation

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What are the advantages of UCB cells?

The most important issue is that your cell collection is simple, painless and without any risk to mother or baby and that it does not raise ethical issues. UCB cells have a great capacity to proliferate, higher than stem cells from bone marrow (the traditional source for transplantation). When transplanted, fewer complications (disease-related graft-versus-HuEPO) arise than with cells from bone marrow because they are so fresh; the immune system is poorly developed and there is little rejection, even when the cells are not completely compatible. They also tend to be free of viruses, bacteria and tumour cells. Finally, as the units are stored in banks and their transplantation potential is so great, their availability is much faster than with bone marrow transplants and the number of patients accessing SCU transplants is increasing.

What is the advantage of umbilical cord stem cells over bone marrow cells?

There are several advantages in using umbilical cord stem cells:

  • Since the umbilical cord stem cells are collected while still in development ,they have a greater potential for differentiation.
  • For the same reason, as the cells are not yet sufficiently developed, they still lack a full immune profile, so they can be transplanted with less risk of rejection than bone marrow cells, which require a higher degree of compatibility between donor and recipient.
  • Obtaining cells from umbilical cord blood is painless and non-invasive, unlike the collection of bone marrow cells.
  • Obtaining bone marrow cells is more difficult due to the need to find compatible donors.

What are autologous and allogeneic transplants?

An autologous transplant is undertaken using SCU from the patient, while an allergenic transplant is undertaken with SCU from a donor, whether related or otherwise.

How many transplants have been undertaken with SCU?

There have been about 9,000 transplants, most of them using SCU stored in public banks and only a few (about 300) with SCU from private banks.

Why keep the UCB stem cells from your baby?

For its therapeutic value

Currently, the use of stem cell preservation has been proven via allergenic transplants (where the donor is a blood relation) to treat severe neoplastic haematologic diseases, such as leukemias and lymphomas and non-tumorous diseases, such as anaemia, haemoglobinopathies and metabolic diseases.

Because of its great future potential

The therapeutic potential of stem cell transplantation is documented in many research programs being carried out within the public and private healthcare sector worldwide, and is aimed at treating diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy and heart diseases. For this alone, Sanitas believe it is worthwhile to preserve your child's UCB.

For its domestic use and immediate availability

The most important issue when finding a donor for UCB transplantation, is the level of patient compatibility. In unrelated allergenic transplants, the compatibility between siblings is 30%. The survival rate between matched siblings is 73% and there is less incidence of GVHD. In a transplant from a public bank, the probability of finding a match is 0.01%, and survival in these transplants is 29%.

Because of its unique timing

Delivery is the only time that stem cells may be extracted from the umbilical cord, otherwise they are discarded. The process is completely painless and without risk to mother or baby.

Treatable diseases

There is already a wide range of therapies which use stem cells from umbilical cord blood and where these have been an invaluable resource, including the treatment of leukaemia, anaemia, etc.

Diseases treated by umbilical cord blood transplantation

Neoplastic Diseases:

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • Acute leukaemia mieloblásica
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • Juvenile chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • NHL
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Multiple myeloma

Non Tumorous Diseases:

  • Severe aplastic anemia
  • Fanconi anaemia
  • Diamond-Blackfan anaemia
  • Osteopetrosis (also known as Marble Bone disease and Albers-Schonberg disease)
  • Kostman syndrome
  • Amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia
  • Dyskeratosis congenita (also known as Zinsser-Cole-Engman syndrome)
  • Haemoglobinopathies (thalassaemia, sickle cell anaemia)
  • Metabolic diseases of deposit (S. Hurler, Hunter S., adrenoleukodystrophy, metachromatic leukodystrophy, Krabbe E., S.Lesch-Nyhan

Immune Disorders:

  • Chronic Granulomatous disease
  • Hystiocytic disorders
  • Leukocyte adhesion deficiency
  • Severe combined immuno deficiency diseases
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

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