Stem cell storage: what is it?

The conservation of stem cells is a theme that still today generates many doubts, questions and even concerns. Its effective use to treat various diseases has made it one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in recent times.

Storing stem cells is a very personal decision; parents should evaluate every aspect of their usefulness and ways to preserve them. We need to gather as much information as possible about the risks, benefits and which diseases could be treated with them.

THE scientists have determined that the blood existing in the umbilical cord of newborns is a source of stem or hematopoietic cells. Of this, mesenchymal cells are the most useful for skeletal tissue regeneration. The umbilical cord has therefore acquired a leading role at the time of childbirth, thanks to the medical applications it entails.

Researchers in a laboratory

What are mesenchymal stem cells for?

These cells are the ones that have generated the most searches and uses since then they have potential characteristics for the treatment of several diseases. THE mesenchymal cells They are present in other parts of our body, but the umbilical cord is one of the richest sources of this type of cell.

Its main functions include the ability to produce skeletal tissue such as bone, cartilage and fat. Therefore, under certain physiological conditions, even in the experimental stage, they can become special cells with specific functions. For example, the pancreas to generate insulin.

This makes mesenchymal cells one of the main lines of research in the field of tissue and organ regeneration. Combining them with other stem cells in transplants, the risk of rejection by the recipient is reduced. These exert a regulatory action that attenuates the immune response of our body.

What is Stem Cell Conservation?

Stem cell harvesting is a procedure that is performed at the time of delivery. That is why the decision to keep them must be made in advance, as the umbilical cord is discarded after the baby is born.

There, specialized medical personnel draws blood from the cord, after cutting it, but before removing the placenta from the womb. The blood is deposited in a special bag which contains the specific requirements for its conservation. This procedure does not represent any discomfort or pain for the mother or the newborn.

The product extracted from the cord is processed in special sterile conditions. until obtaining the definitive sample for future therapeutic applications. This sample is the one that is taken to cryopreservation, carried out using liquid nitrogen at temperatures down to -190°C.

This mechanism allows it to be stored for many years while preserving its properties. Usually, specialized laboratories separate the mesenchymal cells immediately. However, all the blood extracted from the cord is currently stored with the aim of obtaining as many useful cells as possible in the future.

Why do specialists recommend stem cell storage?

Stem cell differentiation process

Like the vast majority of scientific advances today, stem cell preservation continues to cause controversy. There is no obligation on the part of the parents to undergo this procedure. However, It is recommended that they thoroughly evaluate and be well informed on the subject.

Among the most valuable qualities of stem cell conservation are those of renewing and producing other specialized cells. Its genetic content is similar to that of bone marrow, hence its utility becomes extensive.

Likewise, it can regenerate the immune system, stop bleeding and intervene favorably in our body in case of illnesses or toxicological accidents. It has also been very effective in chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Other considerations

These cells can be used in the future without any risk of rejection for the child, as compatibility is absolute. This ensures its application in treatments to combat any diseases that may arise.

Some of those diseases which have been treated with the application of stem cells include various types of cancer. Also, brain tumors, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s and HIV. Similarly, there have been expectations of its application in other diseases for which there are no conclusive results so far, but scientists are very optimistic.

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