Cutting-edge medical research is showing much promise for the use of umbilical cord stem cells to to solve a wide range of health problems in the future. Stem cell research is offering hope to patients and doctors alike that maladies that were once considered untreatable, such as strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, heart disease, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. The future possibilities for the use of umbilical cord stem cells is truly limitless.
Stem cells are sometimes referred to as the building blocks of life, because they are able to generate and form all kinds of bodily tissues. Stem cells that are present in the umbilical cord are able to regenerate various types of cells that are used to create all of the tissues, organs, and systems of the body. This unique ability of stem cells gives hope to researchers that there is the possibility that they can be used in the future to help regenerate damaged tissues and organs in human patients.
If the believed potential use for stem cells is realized, the implications for medicine and the lessening of human suffering is enormous. For example, a person who has suffered a stroke may have the debilitating effects reversed with the use of stem cells to regenerate the damaged tissue of the brain and allow the wires to reconnect, in effect. This exact example has already been successfully demonstrated in mice.
There may come a time in the near future when umbilical cord stem cells from newborns are routinely saved and stored for future needs. In the past, the placenta and the umbilical cord have always been discarded as medical waste. But medical researchers are now beginning to understand the enormous value of retaining these stem cells so that they can be quickly used in the case of a medical emergency involving that individual.
One of the enormous values of the stem cells from the umbilical cord lies in the fact that those cells are an exact genetic match for the baby. That means that should a future need arise, due to an accident or a medical emergency, that individual would have a ready supply of stem cells with which to treat the emergency, and there would be no risk of rejection of those cells.
There is also a great possibility that the stem cells would be a match for the baby siblings as well. Studies have shown that stem cell transplants are more successful when the stem cells originate from a family member rather than a non related donor.
For this reason, some well-informed families have already begun choosing to save and store their babies umbilical cord stem cells and umbilical cord blood. There are a number of private companies who will store the tissue for a price until it is needed. The trend of current research is showing that this is a very good idea, and in the not-too-distant future it may become a standard practice for this tissue to be saved rather than discarded.