Cord Tissue 101
During the process of your pregnancy, you have likely come across the practice of storing your baby’s cord blood. Awareness of cord blood banking has been on the rise since 1988, when the first successful cord blood transplant took place – but what about the possibilities for cord tissue?
Over the last ten years, clinical research has revealed that the umbilical cord is one the most concentrated sources of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs have a self-renewal ability that can proliferate into cells of bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, tendons, and ligaments in addition to having anti-inflammatory properties. This has led to cord tissue collection becoming a promising contender for cell-based treatments of conditions.
In taking a closer look at the umbilical cord itself, there are several different components. Studies have revealed that it is only Wharton Jelly surrounding the blood vessels that contain the rich source of MSCs. It is also important to realize that to produce a large enough therapeutic dose of treatable cells, the MSCs must be able to multiply. Cell expansion is crucial for the future use of MSCs in treatments.
Best Method to Process and Store to Ensure Future Access
Clinical trials (human trials) started in the late 2000’s and since then more and more trials are being conducted worldwide. MSCs from the Wharton’s Jelly are becoming more popular because of the ease of collection compared with MSCs from other sources. As the science advances, parents need to consider which method they want used for their baby’s cord tissue.
Cord blood banks process cord tissue in one of 2 ways:
- (a) isolating the MSCs found from around the blood vessels and the Wharton’s Jelly. This process is patented by Tissue Regeneration Therapeutics –‘TRT’. It is used to freeze and store the MSCs in a pristine state
- (b) storing the whole cord without isolating the MSCs from other tissue and vessels.
In 2013, an Australian cord blood bank, Cryosite, conducted research to compare these methods. The results? A significant higher number of viable cells from TRT (an average increase of almost 3-fold in viable cell density achieved).
According to a survey conducted by the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation in 2015, about half of cord blood banking companies that stored cord tissue admitted to only storing the whole tissue, and not isolating the MSCs.
Parents should also ask cord blood banks if they have a license to perform MSC cell expansion in the future. Hospitals and physicians are not licensed and rely on the cord blood bank’s license. Unfortunately, banks that store the whole cord (without isolating the cells) rarely hold the necessary licenses. Future use of MSCs for medical treatment may be complicated by patent infringement proceedings.
So, when considering a cord blood bank for your baby’s future, here are some questions to ask:
- 1. Are the MSCs isolated prior to freezing or do they freeze all of the cord
- 2. Is the bank licensed to grow out MSCs in the future should the stored cells be needed for medical treatment.
Cells for Life holds the exclusive Canadian license to use this patented TRT technology* and is the only bank that will provide families with proof that their cells are able to grow for a viable therapeutic dose to be utilized in the future.
* Canadian Patent Application No. 2634820