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Understanding Cord Blood vs. Cord Tissue. Vs. Placental Tissue

As an expecting parent, you want to do what’s best for your child. Yet even with all the “best” intentions, it can be confusing trying to sort through all the information out there. For example, let’s take a look at things like cord blood banking and cord tissue storage — how do they differ? And […]

As an expecting parent, you want to do what’s best for your child. Yet even with all the “best” intentions, it can be confusing trying to sort through all the information out there. For example, let’s take a look at things like cord blood banking and cord tissue storage — how do they differ? And are they right for you and your baby? The most important thing is to arm yourself with as much information as possible so that you can make the best decision for your family. Or maybe you aren’t familiar with newborn stem cell banking at all. Either way, we are breaking down everything that you need to know about stem cell banking, understanding the benefits and uses of cord blood vs. cord tissue vs placental tissue.

What Is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after birth. It contains a rich source of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells and is typically discarded as medical waste. Cord blood is collected immediately after birth, and has been used successfully for decades to treat over 80 life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, anemia, and sickle cell disease.

Cord blood was first used in 1988, when a baby girl was treated for Fanconi anemia using her own cord blood. Since then, its uses have expanded tremendously to treat over 80 diseases, including leukemias, lymphomas, Hodgkin’s disease and other cancers.

Cord Blood Banking is the process of collecting your baby’s stem cells for future medical use. Stem cells can be used by any member of your family, including siblings or parents (as long as they are a match, but immediate family have a higher chance of being a match with your newborn’s stem cells). Not to mention that your baby is 100% a perfect genetic match to their own stem cells, if they are ever needed in the future.

What Is Cord Tissue?

Cord tissue is the blood-rich connective tissue that lines the umbilical cord and placenta, and it contains special cells called Wharton’s jelly. These cells help heal wounds and protect your baby from infection. They also help repair damaged tissue in your baby’s body.

One of the major differences between cord blood and cord tissue simply has to do with what stem cells are retrieved from each. Cord tissue contains unique stem cells including endothelial, epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), the most widely researched stem cells in the field of regenerative medicine. And although both are extremely valuable, there have been clinical trials that have shown cord tissue to be more useful in specific types of therapies for treating spinal cord injuries, cartilage repair, autoimmune disease, liver disease, orthopedic indications and neurological conditions.

What is Placental Tissue?

As you may know, the placenta is a critical component of your baby’s life support system during pregnancy and at birth. The placenta is in charge of transferring nutrients and oxygen between the baby and the mother, but did you know that its benefits do not stop once your baby is born? Placental tissue is also a rich source of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and mesenchymal-like stem cells, which are multipotent in nature. This means they have the ability to differentiate into specialized cells with specific functions. The stem cells found within the placenta are currently being used in over 100 clinical trials for regenerative medicine treatments.

Understanding The Potential of The Different Stem Cells

So, as you can see from the above descriptions, there are some key differences when it comes to the stem cells collected from each source. The stem cells that are collected from each have the potential to be used for very different treatment options in the future, and that is why many families choose to maximize their stored stem cells by collecting from all three sources.

Cord blood, on its own, is a safe bet for families since it is currently being used (successfully) to treat diseases and cancers. But the future of regenerative medicine has tremendous potential when it comes to the possibilities of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and mesenchymal-like stem cells. There are currently over 850 studies in the United States that are exploring potential applications for MSCs (the stem cells found in the placenta and cord tissue).

Conclusion

If this feels like a lot of information to unpack, it’s because it is. There is a lot to understand about when it comes to newborn stem cell banking and choosing amongst cord blood vs. cord tissue. vs. placental tissue. As we mentioned previously, you do not have to choose one over the other. In fact, at AlphaCord, we strongly believe that parents should not only look at the current benefits of cord blood banking but also at the future potential of regenerative medicine of the stem cells found in cord tissue and the placenta as well. Preserving all three means you are maximizing the amount of stem cells and potential treatment options that you and your family will have access to in the future, if needed.

If you have more questions about what storage options may be right for you, contact AlphaCord today.

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