Protect your family's future health by storing your newborn baby's cord blood and cord tissue stem cells

Stem Cell Terms
Understanding the most common terms in the world of stem cells
Cord blood:

Umbilical cord blood, or cord blood, is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord after a baby is born. Cord blood contains a variety of cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, platelets and is also rich in hematopoietic stem cells.

Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC):

A type of stem cell found in cord blood. Hematopoietic stem cells are blood forming stem cells meaning they can create and repair the blood and the immune system. It is thought that HSCs may be of help in treating a variety of diseases, including certain cancers, genetic diseases, immune system deficiencies, and blood disorders. They are also being used in clinical trials for regenerative therapies to help treat conditions such Type I diabetes and cerebral palsy.

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA):

Human leukocyte antigens are proteins, often referred to as cell surface markers, found on most cells in the body. These markers help the body recognize which cells belong in the body and which cells are foreign, and do not. HLA markers are used to match patients and donors for stem cell transplants. A blood test known as “HLA tissue typing” is used to find suitable matches.

HLA Tissue Typing:

HLA typing matches the markers on the donor’s cells to the recipient’s cells. A close match between the patients HLA markers and the donor’s can reduce the risk that the patient’s immune cells will attack the donor’s cells, or that the donor’s immune cells will attack the patient’s body after the transplant. A well-matched donor is an important factor in the success of a transplant.

Allogeneic transplant:

A transplant where the patient receives the stem cells from a donor, who may be either a related (family member) or unrelated (stranger). Allogeneic transplants require a type of ‘conditioning regimen’, pre-transplant, in order to destroy the unhealthy cells and immune system before introducing new healthy donated cells into the patient’s body. Some common forms of conditioning are chemotherapy and radiation.

Autologous transplant:

‘Auto’, meaning ‘self’ – an autologous transplant uses the patient’s own cord blood stem cells in the transplant. An autologous transplant also requires a pre-transplant conditioning regimen like an allogeneic transplant. With autologous transplants the cells being used will be a perfect HLA match, because the patient is receiving his/her own cells. This eliminates any chance of rejection. These transplants are more commonly used to treat neuroblastoma and brain cancer. They can also treat acquired disorders, where the problem is not genetic.

Autologous re-infusion:

A treatment where the child’s own cord blood stem cells are used to help repair and re-grow damaged cells. Since cord blood stem cells have demonstrated regenerative properties and there is no risk of rejection there are clinical trials evaluating if autologous re-infusions can help treat children with Type 1 Diabetes and Cerebral Palsy. Unlike transplants (autologous and allogeneic), re-infusion treatments do not require a conditioning regimen.

Engraftment:

Occurs when the stems cells that were transplanted into the patient’s body move into the spaces inside the bone and begin to create new marrow and build a new healthy blood and immune system. Engraftment is one indication of a successful transplant.

Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD):

A condition that occurs as a result of the donor cells attacking the patient’s body and/or the patient’s immune system rejecting the transplanted cells. Finding as close of a donor-recipient match as possible is important because it reduces the risk of Graft versus Host Disease. With cord blood stem cells from a family member, the chances of finding a match greatly increase.

Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC):

Multipotent stem cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). The youngest, most primitive MSCs can be obtained from the umbilical cord tissue, namely Wharton's jelly and the umbilical cord blood. However the MSCs are found in much higher concentration in the Wharton’s jelly compared to the umbilical cord blood. The umbilical cord is easily obtained after the birth of the newborn, is normally thrown away and poses no risk for collection. The umbilical cord MSCs have more primitive properties than other adult MSCs obtained later in life, which might make them a useful source of MSCs for clinical applications.

Cord Tissue:

This is the connecting cord from the developing embryo or fetus to the placenta. During prenatal development, the umbilical cord is physiologically and genetically part of the fetus and normally contains two arteries (the umbilical arteries) and one vein (the umbilical vein), buried within Wharton's jelly. Scientists are quickly discovering that the tissue of the umbilical cord could become a vital component to the future treatment of many diseases that have baffled the healthcare industry for years due the fact that it is a rich source of MSCs.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR):

PCR is a scientific technique in molecular biology to amplify a single or a few copies of a piece of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence. In this way previous or current viral contamination can easily be identified since even a minute amount of viral genetic material will be amplified to detectable amounts

ABO blood group system:

A set of multiple alleles found on a single locus on human chromosome 9 that specifies the presence or absence of certain red cell antigens, which determines the ABO blood group. If an individual is to receive a blood transfusion they must be ABO compatible.