The stem cells found in umbilical cord blood are hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which can help in the replenishment of a depleted blood supply by providing new, healthy cells in the case of certain diseases, such as leukemia, anemia, and lymphoma. A large market for the storage of these stem cells has come into existence over the past 30 years, with public and private cord blood banks now present in all major healthcare markets worldwide.
Benefits of Umbilical Cord Blood
There are several important properties of cord blood, including that the number of hematopoietic stem cells in cord blood equals, or exceeds, the frequency in bone marrow, and cord blood hematopoietic stem cells can produce large colonies in vitro, have different growth factor requirements, and can be expanded in long-term culture.
Cord blood stem cells are characterized as multipotent because they are capable of differentiating into numerous stem cell types, including neurons, hepatic cells, and circulating cell types.
Umbilical cord stem cells are often induced into cells found within the blood and lymph (immune) systems, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The ability of cord blood stem cells to differentiate into blood and immune system cells means that they hold significant potential for use in treatment of serious diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and neurological conditions.
Cord blood stem cells are used in similar ways to stem cells from bone marrow. Most often, cord blood transplantation is used to promote re-building of a patient’s blood and immune system. Cord blood is a proven, effective cure for various blood related diseases and an effective source of blood-forming stem cells.
Other Types of Perinatal Stem Cell Storage
A significant trend within the cord blood industry is that many cord blood banks are diversifying into other types of stem cell storage, to include:
- Umbilical cord tissue (Wharton’s jelly)
- Placenta fluid and tissue
- Amniotic fluid and tissue
- Other types of tissues containing stem and progenitor cells, such as dental pulp, adipose tissue, bone marrow, and more
Today, it is understood that the birth of a newborn contributes several types of stem cells that could be valuable for future medical use.
Umbilical Cord Tissue Banking
When cord blood banking first emerged as a service in the early 1990’s, cord blood banking was the only service offered by companies competing within the industry. However, by 2008 a Taiwanese company (HealthBanks Biotech Company Ltd) expanded its cord blood banking service to include cord tissue storage. By July 2010, Cord Blood Registry had introduced cord tissue storage as a commercial service within the United States. Around the same time, another stem cell storage services also began to emerge: placental stem cell banking. Placental banking was first introduced by LifeBankUSA in 2009. Americord Registry, another private U.S. cord blood bank, also launched placental stem cell banking, but much later in September of 2017. Internationally, a small number of cord blood banks now offer placental blood and tissue storage. An example of one such company is ReeLabs in India.
Additionally, Cryo-Cell International now offers storage of stem cells from menstrual blood. Several cord blood banks have also introduced dental stem cell storage services, because the dental pulp within deciduous (baby) teeth contain valuable mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
Finally, amniotic fluid and tissue is coming of age. In one such example, the Amnion Foundation has emerged as a non-profit organization whose mission is to build a genetically diverse public amniotic stem cell bank that can provide an immunological match to the majority of the population.
Trends in Cord Blood Banking
To learn more about trends in cord blood banking, view the “Global Cord Blood Banking Industry Report,” a 265-page global strategic report published by BioInformant.
As the first and only market research firm to specialize in the stem cell industry, BioInformant has tracked the cord blood banking sector since 2006, providing it with a 12+ year database on which to analyze trends and base future market predictions.
 Rogers I, Casper RF (2004). Umbilical cord blood stem cells. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology.