Regenerative Medicine: Save Lives & Cut Healthcare Costs

Regenerative Medicine: Save Lives & Cut Healthcare Costs

Parents, we have a new buzz word for you. But, this is a wonderful buzz word that could help you. Have you heard about “regenerative medicine”?  Have you heard how this emerging field of medicine has the potential to save lives and cut healthcare costs? Did you know that cord blood stem cells are a critical and non-controversial source of stem cells often used in regenerative medicine? Did you know that people are already receiving these treatments with great success?  It is all true. Let us introduce you to this fascinating world of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.

Regenerative medicine used to be thought of as “science-fiction” but not anymore. Regenerative medicine is all about repairing damage, rebuilding or building parts of the body.  According to the Centre for Regenerative Medicine in the United Kingdom, regenerative medicines include:

Medical treatments that restore complete function to tissues and organs that are damaged by age, injury or disease. These treatments range from drugs that stimulate tissue regeneration to methods of cell and tissue replacement.(Source:http://www.crm.ed.ac.uk/stem-cells-and-regenerative-medicine/glossary)

As we know, cord blood is a non-controversial source of stem cells.  Because of this and the fact that cord blood is rich in pluripotent stem cells, cord blood has become critical to the emerging field of regenerative medicine.  The AABB Center for Cellular Therapies recently stated:

Cord blood stem cells likely will be an important resource as medicine advances toward harnessing the body’s own cells for treatment. Because a person’s own (autologous) stem cells can be infused back into that individual without being rejected by the body’s immune system, autologous cord blood stem cells have become an increasingly important focus of regenerative medicine research.(Source:http://www.aabb.org/aabbcct/therapyfacts/Pages/regenerative.aspx)

Cord Blood Facts - Non-Controversial Source of Stem Cells

Not only is this amazing science, but it actually has the potential to reduce costs in healthcare systems in the US and around the world. Let’s take diabetes for example. There is great promise using cord blood to cure and/or prevent diabetes. In Australia, the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (Institute) is currently performing clinical trials to determine if cord blood could prevent the onset of juvenile Type 1 diabetes.

For example, if diabetes were to be cured through the permanent or semi-permanent replacement of insulin-producing cells, then the lifetime cost and invasiveness of daily insulin injections would be eliminated.(Source:http://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/advancing-regenerative-cellular-therapy-medical-innovation-for-healthier-americans/)

Another example of the amazing work being done in the field of regenerative medicine is the research led by Dr. James Baumgartner at the Florida Hospital for Children to determine if cord blood could treat perinatal stroke and acquired hearing loss. We recently had the honor of hosting Dr. Baumgartner for a special edition of Share the Science dedicated to this topic (click here to access the webinar).

We also recently spoke with Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, Sr. who spoke to parents about the many new uses for cord blood and the latest research in regenerative medicine using cord blood and perinatal stem cells (watch the video on our YouTube channel).

This type of research represents a real shift in the mindset of physicians and the way we do medicine. . . through cellular therapies and regenerative medicine we go from treating symptoms to actually correcting the problem or even preventing it in the first place. This could potentially improve the quality of life for entire populations and cut healthcare costs dramatically.

Current estimates indicate that approximately 1 in 3 Americans could benefit from regenerative medicine, and children whose cord blood stem cells are available for their own potential use could be among the first to benefit from new therapies as they become available.(Source:http://www.nationalstemcellfoundation.org/cord-blood-stem-cells/)

Advances in regenerative medicine have recently picked up pace. With this progression, it has become clear that new regulations need to be put in place to encourage innovation while keeping people safe.  The decisions we make today will affect generations to come. We need to get it right, the first time.

We were pleased to learn about a recent panel discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC which was focused on the need for urgent regulatory reform to make cellular therapies, including regenerative medicine, safe and available to everyone.  Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg from Duke University, Director of Carolinas Cord Blood Bank and CSO of Robertson Clinical and Translational Cell Therapy Program, participated in this discussion.  Her input was vital because she has become a leading expert in using cord blood to help heal the brain.  She has used cord blood to treat cerebral palsy with great success and is undertaking exciting research to use cord blood to treat autism. You can watch the full discussion here:

 

So, parents, where does this leave you?  If you are one of the many parents who donated or privately banked your child’s cord blood at birth, be proud. You gave life twice and your decision could help save the life of a stranger in need or help someone in your own family in need of a cord blood transplant. If you are pregnant and debating what the best choice is for you, please take our advice. . . don’t throw it away.

Should you donate your child’s cord blood or privately bank it?  We consider this question to be a personal choice. Each family is different and has different needs. There are numerous reasons why someone should choose private cord blood banking versus public donation. Equally, there are numerous reasons why public donation makes sense. The world needs both.

Private and public cord blood banks each have their unique benefits. Public banks have access to a large number of donors and can focus on increasing genetic diversity in their donated units. Private banks are in the position to access large amounts of genotypic and phenotypic data that can be correlated with family health histories as well as inform trial design. All of these strengths will be important for advancing clinical trials.(Source: http://www.genengnews.com/insight-and-intelligence/cord-blood-stem-cells/77900564/ )

Parents, to help you through the decision process, start by reading these articles featuring the stories of individuals whose lives have been changed by either using their own cord blood, that of a sibling or that of a stranger.  You will soon see why it is so vital to keep this vital medical resource and through these stories we are sure that you will come to the right conclusion.  Give life twice. Save the cord.

Featured stories:


 

Want to find a public or private cord blood bank near you? Explore your options on our interactive map.

We can also answer some of your frequently asked questions. 

 


Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Save the Cord Foundation

Save the Cord Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, was established to promote awareness of the life-saving benefits of cord blood based on unbiased and factual information. The Foundation educates parents, health professionals and the general public about the need to preserve this valuable medical resource while providing information on both public cord blood donation programs and family cord blood banks worldwide.

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