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At Cells for Life we often come across misconceptions surrounding the preservation of newborn stem cells. To offer clarity, let’s dispel some of the most common myths we encounter.

Myth #1: Newborn stem cells are only good for a few years.
FACT: Based on what is known today, stem cells stored in proper cryogenic storage are believed to remain viable for decades and likely indefinitely, ensuring their potential use for years to come.1

Myth #2: We don’t need to bank cord blood for every child. One should be enough.
FACT: While the decision to preserve newborn stem cells for one or all of your children is entirely yours, we encourage preserving for all. Although many cord blood stem cell transplants typically require matched donor cells, such as from a sibling, an individual’s own stem cells might be applicable for specific conditions, particularly within the field of regenerative medicine.2

Remember, every child is unique and is a perfect genetic match to their own newborn stem cells. Full siblings have a 75% chance of being at least a partial genetic match.

Myth #3: Cord blood is still only used experimentally.
FACT: Cord blood has been used in stem cell transplants for over 30 years helping tens of thousands of people worldwide.3  It is effectively used in treating over 80 conditions, including blood cancers, inherited genetic disorders, bone marrow failure, and immune diseases.4

Beyond approved treatments, ongoing research in regenerative medicine is exploring the potential of stem cells from cord blood and cord tissue for diseases related to the nerves, heart, and bone. The efficacy of therapies using newborn stem cells in these areas is continually assessed through ongoing studies.

Myth #4: Cord blood therapies are only for treating children.
FACT: Because there is a finite amount of cord blood to collect, the limited cell dose in an average umbilical cord blood unit has posed a challenge for treating adults. For a stem cell transplant, most adult patients require more cells than one cord blood unit can provide. However, due to other benefits of cord blood, like more flexibility in the genetic matching requirements,5 treating physicians will sometimes choose to use cord blood in combination with another source of stem cells, like bone marrow or peripheral blood. Other options, including ‘double cord’ transplants using cells from two different umbilical cords, can also help overcome this limitation.6

The most exciting advancement in this space recently, however, is the recent FDA approval of the first expanded cord blood product for use in patients with certain types of cancers.7  With other similar products under development and going through clinical trials,8  this technology has the potential to offer higher cord blood stem cell doses for even more adult patients in the future.

Myth #5: Cord blood stored in a family bank can be used to treat anybody.
FACT: Cord blood kept within a family bank like Cells for Life remains exclusive for your family’s use and cannot be accessed without the primary account holder’s consent. Family banks, like Cells for Life, are able to release newborn stem cells for use by family members of the baby out to second-degree relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. The specific use of newborn stem cells is determined by the treating physician and is influenced by many factors.

It’s important to note that cord blood stem cells possess genetic markers known as human leukocyte antigens (HLA) that must closely match the recipient patient.9 Biological parents are always a partial match to their children’s cord blood stem cells, and full siblings have a 75% chance of being at least a partial HLA match.

 

Myths dispelled, it’s time to help others.

So, there you have it: We’ve cleared up the confusion surrounding five common myths about newborn stem cells. Share this article with expecting friends and family. Even better, refer them to Cells for Life. When your referral chooses to preserve with us, you’ll receive a cheque or storage credit to fund your storage fees, and they’ll enjoy special pricing on our newborn stem cell bundle.*

 

1. Broxmeyer HE, Luchsinger LL, Weinberg RS, et al. Insights into highly engraftable hematopoietic cells from 27-year cryopreserved umbilical cord blood [published online ahead of print, 2023 Oct 26]. Cell Rep Med. 2023;101259. doi:10.1016/j.xcrm.2023.101259 2. Couto PS, Bersenev A, Verter F. The first decade of advanced cell therapy clinical trials using perinatal cells (2005/2015). Regenerative Medicine. 2017;12(8):953-968. doi:10.2217/rme-2017-0066 3. Zhu X, Tang B, Sun Z. Umbilical cord blood transplantation: Still growing and improving. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2021;10 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S62-S74. doi:10.1002/sctm.20-0495 4. Mayani, H., Wagner, J.E. & Broxmeyer, H.E. Cord blood research, banking, and transplantation: achievements, challenges, and perspectives. Bone Marrow Transplant 55, 48–61 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41409-019-0546-9 5. Ballen K. Update on umbilical cord blood transplantation. F1000Res. 2017;6:1556. Published 2017 Aug 24. doi:10.12688/f1000research.11952.1 6. Gutman JA, Riddell SR, McGoldrick S, Delaney C. Double unit cord blood transplantation: Who wins-and why do we care? Chimerism. 2010 Jul-Sep;1(1):21-2. doi: 10.4161/chim.1.1.12141. PMID: 21327154; PMCID: PMC3035116. 7. OMISIRGE [package insert]. Gamida Cell. 2023. http://www.gamida-cell.com/wp-content/uploads/Omisirge-final-PI.pdf. 8. Cohen S, et al. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation using single UM171-expanded cord blood: a single-arm, phase 1-2 safety and feasibility study. Lancet Haematol. 2020 Feb;7(2):e134-e145. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3026(19)30202-9. Epub 2019 Nov 6. PMID: 31704264.9. “Cord Blood Myths and Facts”, Cord Blood Association, Retrieved January 9, 2024, from https://www.cb-association.org/myths-and-facts.

*Refer-a-Friend Program: See website for referral terms and conditions.

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