Guest Blog: Cord blood – A real lifeline?

Another first for Terrapinn this year was the parallel Cord Blood World Europe Congress running alongside the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Congress at the Business Design Centre in London, far too enticing a proposition not to pop in and take a look.

Some ten years ago (or perhaps slightly more) I stood in a GMP suite staring at my first cord collection, wondering how the protocols we had prepared would stand up to action.  It was the wee small hours of the morning and if I was honest there was a portion of me that preferred sleep! Now here in 2015 I have the opportunity to see how far the industry has travelled.

In some respects the conversations over cell preparation, freezing, thawing and storage protocols feel remarkably similar.  What has developed is the understanding of what we might do, not only with cord blood but also cord tissue.  Alongside this a fledgling private banking and collection industry now exists, often in uneasy harmony with the public sector.

There are a great number of questions we need to address including -what is the mechanism of action for cord blood and tissue stem cells, particularly in examples where re-infusion has resulted in remarkable clinical outcomes, does the cost of banking (public or private) warrant the number of units currently used, communication between cord banks, nationally and internationally and many more.

If we take inspiration it could be from Kate Girard of Viacord, who presented the most comprehensive walk through of the current clinical partnerships at Viacord.  Studies with Duke University amongst others demonstrate considerable improvements in new-borns re-infused with cord stem cells following traumatic birth and diagnoses including cerebral palsy.

In her words ‘every cord has a value’.  Combining this technology with cell and gene therapy are companies such as Bluebird Bio – well worth investigating.

This is the second instalment in a series of blog posts by Dr Beverley Vaughan, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst from this year’s World Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Congress, and its co-located Cord Blood World Europe, that took place 20-22 May 2015.


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