Stem cells – In and out

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The foundation for every organ and tissue in our body lies in stem cells. Stem cells are known for their ability of self renewal and regeneration. Stem cells are the only cells which have the capacity to differentiate into different body cells and multiply without limit.

When a stem cell multiplies, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell or any other cell as desired.

Stem cells have three broad properties;
1. Division and renewal
2. Stem cells are unspecialized
3. Stem cells can form specialized cell types

Types of Stem cells:
Stem cells can be broadly divided into two types: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are obtained from the inner cell mass (cluster of cells) in the thin-walled hollow structure that forms after 3-5 days after the fertilisation of an egg cell called the blastocyst. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent in nature, which means that they can form every cell type in the fully formed body except the placenta and umbilical cord.

Adult stem cells have the ability to renew itself and can differentiate to produce major specialized cell types of the body. These cells can be divided into two types, Haematopoietic stem cells which are the blood forming cells and Mesenchymal stem cells which are tissue forming cells.

Sources of Adult stem cells:
Until now, the major source of adult stem cells was through bone marrow. The bone marrow stem cells were discovered in the 1960s. Since then, bone marrow stem cells have been used in treatment of life threatening diseases like leukaemias and other hematopoietic diseases. Study has also shown the potential use of these cells for conditions such as peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, heart failure and other disorders.

However a new and better source of healthy stem cells is the umbilical cord stem cells. The umbilical cord which connects the mother and child is a rich source of Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSC’s). HSC’s were initially extracted only from bone marrow. But cells extracted from bone marrow are required to achieve a 6/6 HLA match2. It has been also seen that there are higher chances of graft v/s host diseases (which means that the recipient body rejects the transplant) with a bone marrow transplant.

A hope was found in umbilical cord stem cells wherein the transplant can be carried even with a 4/6 HLA match. Also, since the cord stem cells are genetically unique to the baby and family, there is a lower risk of graft v/s host diseases. An umbilical cord blood transplant is known to have enhanced outcomes as compared to bone marrow transplant. Over the past 25 years, more than 30,000 cord blood transplants have been successfully carried out worldwide and 1000 cord blood transfusions were done in India.

Umbilical cord blood banking:
Preservation of umbilical cord blood stem cells provides security from more than 80 life threatening disease not just for the child but also for the siblings and parents. You can preserve your child’s stem cells at the time of birth. In India there are options of preserving cells through private banks. Babycell, India’s most premium stem cell bank with high standards of quality and service can be considered for preserving your little ones stem cells.

So if you are welcoming your new child, then take a small step today for a secure tomorrow by opting for stem cell preservation.

Dr. Hema Mathurkar
Dr. Mathurkar, is M.B.B.S; MD Microbiology. Dr. Mathurkar is a key support and guide, directing the lab team to promote optimal clinical outcomes
Contact – 18002090309
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