What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the body's “master” cells because they give rise to all tissues, organs, and systems in the body. There are three primary sources of stem cells:
1-Umbilical cord blood
2-Adult bone marrow (or peripheral blood)
Cord blood as a source of hematopoietic stem cells Historically, cord blood is best known as a source of hematopoietic stem cells, which are the building blocks of the blood and immune system. In the 1980s, doctors began using umbilical cord blood to cure diseases that were previously treated with bone marrow. Today, cord blood is regarded by many transplant doctors as a bone marrow equivalent.
Cord blood stem cells and regenerative medicine Research over the last several years has shown that cord blood contains a diverse pool of different types of stem cells that give rise to many different types of cells in the body, including nerves and blood vessels. Cord blood has also been shown to contain embryonic-like stem cells with the ability to differentiate, or change into other various types of cells in the body. The flexibility and diversity of stem cells found in cord blood is why they hold so much promise for improving the treatment of common diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neurological disorders.
Like bone marrow, cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells, the building blocks of the blood and immune system. In transplantation, stem cells differentiate into red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body; white blood cells, which fight infections; and platelets, which are necessary for clotting (see illustration below).