Treatments with Cord Blood
When making the decision about cord blood banking, it's very important to understand exactly how this cord blood might be used by your family.
Private cord blood banking allows you to bank your baby's umbilical cord blood and to use this cord blood in time of medical crisis, primarily for a bone marrow transplant.
At this time, this is the main use of cord blood. Doctors are, however, constantly working to develop new treatments for diseases and to figure out other ways to use the stem cells from umbilical cord blood and from the placenta.
Many people who opt to store a baby's cord blood do so, not because a family member is presently sick, but because of the potential that this cord blood might have for other uses in the future.
At the moment, there are three types of stem cell treatments that are done using cord blood. They are standard treatments, trials and experimental treatments.
Standard Treatments Using Stem Cells
Stem cell transplants are used as standard, or normal, treatment in many situations. Most of the problems for which stem cell transplants are the norm are problems with blood cells. These include problems with the stem cells in the bone marrow and specific problems in the blood.
Such standard treatments include treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, inherited red cell abnormalities, anemia, inherited immune system disorders, phagocyte disorders, cancers in the bone marrow and other cancers.
Clinical Trials Using Stem Cells
There are some diseases that have proven to be cured or helped with stem cells; however, stem cell therapy has not yet been adopted as the norm for these diseases. This means that they are not the standard or normative therapy, but that they are clinical trials.
Some of the time, the stem cell transplants only slow the progression of the disease; other times stem cell treatment may successfully create a cure. In most of these cases, however, the exact dosage and usage of stem cell therapy is not yet clear. Usually, patients get access to the treatment if they are part of a clinical trial.
Some of the diseases that fall under this category are auto-immune diseases like Diabetes and Lupus, diseases of the central nervous system like Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis, inherited disorders that affect the immune system, and certain cancerous tumors.
There are many other diseases that are in clinical trials with stem cell therapy and it's important to be in touch with a doctor to know about these cases as they relate to your needs.
Experimental Treatments Using Stem Cells
Some diseases have not yet proven to be helped or cured in humans using stem cell treatments. Many of the treatments are still being done in labs with cell cultures or animals.
Others are being studied with sick people and control groups, but are highly regulated in the United States according to the FDA regulations. Such diseases include auto-immune diseases like Juvenile Arthritis and Crohn's Disease, and diseases of the central nervous system like Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease.
Stem cell treatments are quite limited at the moment, and umbilical cord blood is generally only able to help with bone marrow transplants at the present time.
The hope is that doctors will continue experimenting with stem cells and finding more ways to use them to extend health and well being to the population at large.