Where do Stem Cells Come From?
Stem cells are regenerative cells that can treat several medical conditions and diseases. They form in the embryo following egg implantation and continue to restore and repair cells throughout the body throughout a person’s entire life. In the past, doctors primarily extracted stem cells from bone marrow. However, we can now take them from umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue, and placenta tissue, making it easier for patients to access stem cell treatment.
When parents choose to extract and store their baby’s stem cells after birth, they provide their child with future treatment options. Stem cells can treat or lessen symptoms of conditions such as cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, blood conditions, autoimmune diseases, and orthopedic conditions. They can repair organs and tissues following a traumatic injury or chemotherapy. In some cases, these remarkable cells can even save lives.
How Does the Body Create Stem Cells?
Stem cells are immature, self-replicating cells that can transform into different cell types. The body consists of over 200 different cell types, each of which traces back to a zygote created by the union of a sperm and an egg. Stem cells form in blastocysts, which are embryos that are three to five days old. They eventually develop into differentiated and specialized cells such as muscle, blood, nerve, and skin cells.
Adult stem cells remain in a person’s body throughout their entire life. These cells are somatic or tissue-specific stem cells, and they stay in a non-specific state until the body needs them for different purposes. Your body continuously repairs and maintains itself by renewing its tissues, and stem cells regularly divide to create these new tissues.
What Can Stem Cells Treat?
Stem cells can repair damaged cells, tissues, and organs to restore or improve function after trauma, disease, or aging. They reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system, making them an effective treatment option for several conditions. These regenerative cells can treat the following conditions and diseases:
- Heart disease
- Spinal cord injuries
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory conditions
- Neurological conditions
- Traumatic injuries
- Orthopedic conditions
Stem cell therapy does not always cure diseases, conditions, and injuries, but it can help the body repair itself to mitigate symptoms and promote healing. In some cases, stem cell therapy can delay disease progression and increase a patient’s quality of life.
Current clinical trials are also exploring the potential for stem cells to treat autism symptoms that do not respond well to behavioral therapy.
How Many Stem Cells Are in the Human Body?
We do not know for sure how many of each cell type the body contains. However, scientists estimate that approximately 50,000 to 200,000 hematopoietic stem cells work in the body to actively make white blood cells. Overall, some presume that human bodies contain between 300 million and 1 billion stem cells, but this is only an educated guess. Additionally, the number of stem cells in a person’s body can fluctuate throughout their life as they age.
Where Are Stem Cells in the Body?
Stem cells exist to regenerate, repair, and replicate different cell types. All stem cells start as embryonic stem cells before developing into adult stem cells. Stem cells exist inside organs among other cell types, and they can split to differentiate into other cells when your body needs them.
Embryonic Stem Cells
Before a blastocyst implants in the uterus, it consists of approximately 150 to 200 stem cells that make up two parts. One part of the embryonic mass is an outer mass that will form part of the placenta, and the other part is an inner mass that will form the fetus’ human body. Embryonic stem cells exist within the inner mass, and scientists refer to them as totipotent stem cells, meaning they have full potential to become any cell type.
Adult Stem Cells
Adult stem cells exist in fully developed humans from infancy to adulthood. They are deep inside organs and surrounded by ordinary cells. Adult stem cells are in the following body parts:
- Bone marrow
- Blood and blood vessels
- Skeletal muscles
After birth, stem cells are in the following places:
- Umbilical cord blood
- Umbilical cord tissue
- Placenta tissue
A doctor or physician uses a needle to take stem cells from the clamped umbilical cord and the placenta with no pain to the baby or mother.
How Do We Get Stem Cells?
If you’re wondering how you can get stem cells if you or a family member experiences a medical condition or disease that could improve with stem cell treatment, there are different ways to do so.
Health professionals can collect stem cells from cord blood, cord blood tissue, placenta tissue, and the human body. Bone marrow was previously the only source of stem cells for treatment purposes, which required doctors to remove marrow from a patient’s hip. Now, doctors can also harvest stem cells from circulating blood or collect them from the umbilical cord and the placenta directly after a woman gives birth.
If parents store their baby’s umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, or placenta tissue following birth, their baby will have access to their stem cells if they need treatment. Someone who needs stem cell treatment and does not have stored cord blood to retrieve stem cells from will need to receive stem cells from a donor. Donated stem cells can come from cord blood, cord tissue, placenta tissue, or bone marrow.
Cord Blood and Placenta Stem Cells
After a baby is born, a midwife or doctor can collect blood from the clamped umbilical cord using a needle. They can also collect placenta tissue once the placenta exits the body. The stem cells in cord blood and the placenta have significant medical benefits and can treat various conditions and diseases.
Cord Blood Stem Cells
Cord blood contains more stem cells than bone marrow, making it a rich source of blood-forming stem cells. It also has more immature, younger cells that are less likely for a patient’s body to reject when used in medical treatments. Blood-forming cells, or hematopoietic stem cells, can effectively treat over 80 diseases that affect the immune system and blood.
Placenta Stem Cells
Like cord blood, the placenta’s tissue is rich in hematopoietic stem cells. However, it also has plentiful mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells can further reduce the potential for rejection and improve possible outcomes because they are even more immature than hematopoietic stem cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells can also regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Due to these benefits, mesenchymal stem cells have been the subject of worldwide studies for their potential use in regenerative medicine.
How Do Stem Cells Differentiate?
Stem cells can differentiate and develop into specialized cell types. When a stem cell divides in two to form daughter cells, one of the following results will occur:
- The two daughter cells can remain unchanged and continue as stem cells.
- Both cells can differentiate and develop into specialized cell types.
- One cell can differentiate to become a new cell type, while the other retains its stem cell properties.
When both of a stem cell’s daughter cells differentiate and become the same cell type, it is symmetric division. When one daughter cell differentiates and the other remains a stem cell, it is asymmetric division. Asymmetric cell division allows the body to maintain its stem cell numbers. Signaling pathways and gene expression modifications regulate stem cell differentiation. Stem cells have different abilities based on the following categories.
- Unipotent stem cells: Unipotent cells can differentiate into only one cell type.
- Oligopotent stem cells: Oligopotent cells can develop into a few different cell types.
- Multipotent stem cells: Multipotent cells can differentiate into separate, related cell types.
- Pluripotent stem cells: Pluripotent cells can become almost any type of cell.
- Totipotent stem cells: Totipotent cells can develop into any cell type.
Specialized stem cells can replace lost or damaged cells in the body. This cell regeneration process allows organs to heal.
What Are the Best Stem Cells to Use for Therapy?
The best stem cells for therapy depend on factors such as stem cell concentration, ease of extraction, damage and age, and the likelihood the body may reject them. Bone marrow stem cells require more effort, equipment, and time to collect, making the process taxing for donors and doctors. Stem cell concentration is also a critical factor because only highly concentrated stem cells can effectively treat conditions and diseases.
Aging and pollution damage stem cells over time, so stem cells collected from an older child or adult may not be as beneficial as other stem cells. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are the most valuable stem cells because they are easy to collect, rich in hematopoietic cells, and can survive long periods in storage. Since cord blood stem cells come from the umbilical cord, doctors and midwives can collect them noninvasively, leaving the mother and baby feeling no pain.
It’s also essential to consider the likelihood a recipient’s body will reject stem cells from different sources. A treatment recipient’s body is more likely to accept stem cells extracted from their blood. Your baby’s cord blood will 100% match their body if they ever need stem cell treatment. Cord blood stem cells are multipotent because they can develop into more than one cell type, allowing them to treat many conditions and organs.
Stored cord blood, cord tissue, and umbilical tissue can also treat family members in some cases. While cord blood stem cells may not be a perfect match in all cases, siblings are more likely to be a genetic match than unrelated individuals. Half-siblings are likely not a strong match, but siblings with the same parents have substantial potential to be a perfect or partial match.
How Can I Store My Baby’s Stem Cells?
Thanks to scientific advancements, preserving and storing stem cells for future use is quick and pain-free. Directly after your baby is born, a midwife or doctor can collect your baby’s umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue, or placenta tissue and store it for future use if your child or a family member needs stem cell treatment. You can also choose all three of these options to preserve as many stem cells as possible.
To extract stem cells from a clamped and cut umbilical cord, a midwife or doctor uses a needle to extract the cord blood and move it into a specially designed bag for safekeeping. They can also safely remove tissue from the umbilical cord and the placenta without causing any discomfort to the mother or baby. A professional will pick up the collection kit and deliver it to a stem cell storage laboratory.
After a medical courier delivers your baby’s cord blood, the laboratory will separate stem cells from the blood and tissue before safely preserving the cells in a liquid nitrogen storage tank. Proper preservation methods ensure the stem cells will remain secure and intact for decades, so your family can access them if needed.
Americord® is a leading expert in the stem cell storage industry. With unparalleled transparency and exceptional customer service, Americord® is the premier stem cell bank for families committed to lifelong health. We offer advanced options to provide families with resources they can use for potential therapies and treatment options.
While we do not offer stem cell treatments or guarantee that the stem cells will apply to every situation, we can ensure your baby’s stem cells will remain safe and secure. If a physician ever determines stem cells are necessary for treatment, your baby will have access to cells that are a 100% match.
Contact Americord® for More Information
Stem cells have the incredible ability to regenerate, repair, and replace essential cells in the body. Stem cells begin to form in the embryo and remain in the body throughout an individual’s life. A baby’s umbilical cord, cord tissue, and placenta tissue contain high concentrations of immature cells that have the potential to differentiate into other cell types. These regenerative cells can help organs heal following a traumatic injury or chemotherapy, and they can treat symptoms of various medical conditions.
Storing your baby’s stem cells can help maintain their lifelong health and provide them with more choices if they ever need treatment for a medical condition or disease. Americord® offers premier stem cell storage, exceptional customer service, and unparalleled transparency for parents.
If you are pregnant and are looking for more information about newborn stem cell banking, give one of our Stem Cell Specialists a call (866-503-6005) today! You can also learn more here on our website.
The views, statements, and pricing expressed are deemed reliable as of the published date. Articles may not reflect current pricing, offerings, or recent innovations.