Two Cells, Unlimited Potential: A look at HSCs and MSCs

Stem Cell Awareness Day is the perfect time for a quick refresher about the far-reaching benefits of preserving newborn stem cells. Incredibly valuable from day one, the life-changing potential of cord blood stem cells and cord tissue stem cells increases every year as researchers discover ground-breaking, new medical treatments aimed at improving the health of your entire family. 

As complicated as the science behind stem cell-based transplant and regenerative medicines appears it all starts with just two remarkable cells: HSCs and MSCs. Here’s a simple explanation to help you, as well as interested friends and family, better understand the basic elements of the medical world’s most exciting treatment breakthroughs. 

HSCs – a remarkable start 

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) come from the blood left inside a baby’s umbilical cord at birth. Cord blood stem cells have been successfully used in transplant medicine for over 30 years.1   

HSCs are currently used to treat over 80 conditions, ranging from blood disorders and cancers to immune and metabolic disorders. The ability of HSCs to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems has revolutionized the treatment of sickle cell anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, Tay Sachs, Krabbe disease, and severe combined immunodeficiency, among many other conditions. 

More than 100 studies are being conducted worldwide to explore cord blood’s role in regenerative medicine.2  Early findings indicate HSCs may be beneficial in the treatment of conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, pediatric brain injuries, and type 1 diabetes to name a few. 

MSCs – the next big step 

Mesenchymal stem cells – more commonly referred to as MSCs – come from the baby’s umbilical cord tissue. These cells offer an exciting new area for research as MSCs show great promise in regenerative medicine due to their ability to regulate the body’s immune response, reduce inflammation, and stimulate tissue repair.  

Over 200 clinical trials are now underway exploring the potential of cord-tissue-derived MSCs for treating tissue and organ damage as well as a host of autoimmune, orthopedic, cardiovascular, and neurological conditions.2  These include osteoarthritis, stroke, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injury. Early research findings show that MSCs may lead to better regenerative therapies than HSCs. 

While MSCs are still being researched today, preserving cord tissue stem cells means families will have access to additional, previously unknown treatment options in the future. 

A day to celebrate science and wise choices 

Stem Cell Awareness Day reminds us that we live in a remarkable time, one that offers new treatment options for our children, our families, and ourselves. Whether you’re planning to or have already preserved your child’s newborn stem cells, it’s reassuring to know that researchers, medical professionals, and CBR scientists are working together to provide a healthier future for us all. 

Help spread the word about Stem Cell Awareness Day. Share this blog with friends or family who are expecting. Refer them to CBR through your online account. And, if you’re expecting, be sure to sign up today.

References:  

1. Ballen K. Update on umbilical cord blood transplantation. F1000Res. 2017;6:1556. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11952.1.  2. Verter, F., Couto, P. S., & Bersenev, A. (2018). A dozen years of clinical trials performing advanced cell therapy with perinatal cells. Future Science OA, 4(10). doi: 10.4155/fsoa-2018-0085 

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