Friday, July 23, 2010
Stem Cells from Umbilical Cord Blood Save Lives
Time Magazine: How Saving Umbilical Cords Saves Lives, by Bonnie Rochman:
As their due date creeps closer, many pregnant women pack a go bag for the hospital: toothbrush, iPod, cute bringing-baby-home outfit. But in recent months, savvy mothers-to-be have started tucking in one more important item: a kit to collect and donate the blood in their babies' umbilical cord.
Cord blood is a noncontroversial source of stem cells, yet experts estimate that 99% of this potentially lifesaving resource gets thrown away postpartum. Unlike the stem cells in human embryos, which can morph into any kind of cell in the body, the stem cells in cord blood have their futures largely mapped out, as blood, brain, liver or heart-muscle cells, for example. But researchers have shown that cord-blood cells can be reprogrammed, and over the next decade, doctors hope to adapt these cells to treat heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and maybe neurodegenerative diseases too. . . .