Save the Cord Foundation recently had the honor of attending Cord Blood World Europe 2017, part of the World Advanced Therapies & Regenerative Medicine Congress and World Precision Medicine Congress, held in London. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear excellent speakers such as Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, Dr. Colleen Delaney, Dr. Paul Veys, Dr. Guy Sauvageau and many others speak about cord blood research and current uses for cord blood in the medical world. In addition, topics went beyond cord blood at times as experts discussed processing and uses for cord tissue as well as other perinatal stem cells. Regenerative medicine was a recurring theme throughout.
A great emphasis was placed on interacting with the expert presenters via lively roundtables and open panel discussions. Save the Cord Foundation was invited to host a roundtable discussion called “Educational Approaches.” We worked with attendees on new educational approaches addressing a variety of audiences, namely health professionals, expectant parents and our next generation of STEM professionals. Several of the participants in this roundtable discussion agreed to share their thoughts with the Save the Cord Foundation community. Below is a quick summary based on some of the most talked about presentations:
One of the most exciting presentations was made by Dr. Colleen Delaney of Nohla Therapeutics and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Delaney presented “Ex-vivo Expanded Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cell Therapies: The Road from a Patient Specific to Universal Donor Approach.” Participants in our roundtable commented that there were several key points made in this presentation that health professionals and parents needed to know about, for example:
After hearing Dr. Delaney’s presentation, I feel parents and health professionals need to realize why cord blood expansion techniques and the concept of the ‘universal donor’ which Dr. Delaney is exploring are so necessary. In particular, compared to patients of Caucasian descent, if a patient of mixed ethnicity is trying to find a match today the odds go down drastically. It is important for parents to know why this cord blood expansion technology led by Dr. Delaney is important and that happily it is perhaps just a few years away from being market ready. That potential is very encouraging.Mara Lucato (Create Cord Blood Bank Canada - www.createcordbank.com)
Another interesting presentation was made by Chiranya (Anjie) Prachaseri of Cryoviva in South East Asia, called “Perinatal Stem Cell Banking- Uses and Future Opportunities – A South East Asian Perspective.” This presentation emphasized the on-going problem with press and media coverage of cord blood which can often mislead parents and doctors. Prachaseri also discussed the fact that many parents do not know about the various accreditation groups who play a very important role in the industry.
Although the presentation focused mainly on South East Asia, Dr. Mareike Uhlmann from Stemlab, who participated in our roundtable, agreed it is crucial. . .
Andre Gomes, also from Stemlab, stated how important it is to address the misinformation that is being given to our youth – the next generation of scientists, doctors, policy makers, etc. He applauded Prachaseri’s efforts of speaking to university students about cord blood and stem cell applications.
This has to be explained. More information must be given to young people otherwise we will always be fighting misinformation and confusing press. We need to move from the idea that ‘stem cells are bad’ to a discussion about the good and bad reasons for stem cell storage.Andre Gomes (Stemlab - www.stemlab.ch)
Finally, another presentation that prompted interesting discussion was made by Joana Correia of Exogenus Therapeutics. Correia presented “Umbilical Cord Blood Supply for the Development of Exo-Wound, an Exosome-based Product for Chronic Wounds.” Based on this presentation, roundtable participants saw opportunity for future STEM professionals who want to explore cellular expansion, delivery mechanisms, exosome extraction or even the shifts between translational and clinical applications. While these opportunities cannot be denied, several roundtable participants expressed caution reminding the group that cord blood stem cells are truly precious and should be used wisely.
Experts discuss challenges in cord blood education
We, at Save the Cord Foundation, could not agree more. Cord blood is rich in stem cells. If collected and stored properly, these stem cells could be currently used to treat more than 80 different life-threatening diseases including many blood cancers. Compared to bone marrow, it is much easier to match and carries less risk of Graft versus Host Disease. Impressive research is also underway around the globe to test cord blood’s potential in regenerative medicine. For example, there is ground-breaking research to potentially treat spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, hearing loss and diabetes all using cord blood.
This is why we tell every parent. . . do everything you can to save your baby’s cord blood. If you can donate it, then donate it. If you prefer to privately store it (for eventual use by your child or family member), then do it. Be proactive and plan ahead. Please don’t throw this valuable medical resource away. Save the cord.
Meet another cord blood expert: Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, Sr.
Learn about the current uses of cord blood and perinatal stem cells. . . click here.