Promising stem cell research


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – More families are opting to bank umbilical cord blood. It’s the blood that remains in a newborn’s umbilical cord after birth and is a rich source of stem cells.

Katy Blanchette’s first of three children, son Patrick, was born with cerebral palsy. Followed by son Kellan, who was born prematurely with disabilities. So when she gave birth to daughter Maeve, Katy seized the opportunity to bank her youngest child’s umbilical cord blood cells.

Katy explained, “They were doing very promising umbilical cord blood in children with cp as a treatment so we went ahead and banked our daughter’s cord blood in the hopes that it will be used in the future for our son.”

Preserved cord blood stem cells can be transplanted for siblings and parents use, if tissue markers match up.

“The families that are benefitting most right now in clinical trials for regenerative medicine are those families with children with cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injuries, ” said Marion Welch, Cord Blood Educator.

Overall, adult stem cell research is at the cusp of real breakthroughs.

Dr. Hugh Taylor said, “We are able to generate insulin producing cells from adult stem cells that maybe useful in the treatment of diabetes. We can cure diabetes in mice with these cells so far.”

Dr. Taylor is a leading expert in the field and is backed by a team of researchers at a Yale School of Medicine laboratory.

“We’ve been able to treat Parkinson’s disease in animal models. We aren’t quite ready for a clinical trail for use in people yet but’s not too far off.”

Meanwhile, the FDA has approved the use of cord blood for 80 disorders so more families like the Blanchettes can benefit from ongoing studies.

Katy said, “When it came down to it, our children’s health is number one. And their quality of life is number one and that is what ultimately led us to that decision.”

The cost of banking umbilical cord blood stem cells can start at $1,600, followed by a yearly fee of $150.

There are 26 accredited cord blood banks in the U.S.

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