Parents looking into cord blood banking may be presented with the opportunity to also bank umbilical cord tissue and placental tissue, which are other rich sources of different kinds of stem cells. Placental tissue is particularly exciting to many, because not only are there advanced clinical trials exploring treatments for a wide range of conditions, but because there are already uses in the treatment of wounds and certain eye conditions with the amniotic membrane, which is the part of the placenta that Americord processes and stores for our clients as part of our Placental Tissue 2.0 product.
With the topic of wounds and experimental treatments for burns beginning to draw interest, we hear people asking “can placental tissue be used to treat burn victims?” – and we think that’s an exciting possibility! Here’s what you should know:
Doctors Have Been Working with the Amniotic Membrane for a Long Time
Although the use of placental tissue for medical treatments may sound like futuristic medicine, relevant research for the treatment of burns actually extends back as far as the 1970s!
A Canadian study1 published in 1979 suggested that the amniotic membrane in the placental tissue could “prevent heat and water loss from the wound surface and acts as a barrier against bacterial contamination, thus aiding the healing process and reducing morbidity”, the importance of which is immediately evident. The study also demonstrated that this treatment offered a “marked relief from pain”, which is clinically significant for the treatment of any condition, but is also of intense interest in the treatment of burns, where pain management is a substantial component of treatment.
Newer Studies Are Demonstrating the Same Value
Newer studies have confirmed the significant value of these treatments. A 2015 study compared patients treated with amniotic membrane dressings of skin grafts with patients treated with a traditional dressing and found that on average the patients treated with the amniotic membrane had less pain and scored better on tests assessing their ability to move in the first days after an operation2.
The authors of the study also point out that the potential complications of further treatment, like immobility, are lower as well. By reducing the possibility of complications, these treatments further contribute to earlier discharge of patients from the hospital.
The Realities of Treating Burns
Burns aren’t something anyone plans to need treatment for, but burns severe enough to require medical treatment are far more common than most people realize – in 2016 there were approximately 486,000 burns that required medical treatment in the U.S., with 40,000 of those requiring hospitalization3. And of these burns, 73% occurred at home – burns are an injury that parents should seriously prepare to not just prevent, but treat.
Placental tissue can be banked and then safely used for your baby, but also other family members including parents, siblings, and grandparents. And while the ability to help treat burns and other wounds is already a substantial value, the potential of placental tissue is even greater. It’s being explored for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, including cancers, organ conditions, and injuries to the joints and spine.
1) Bose, B (1979), Aspects of Treatment: Burn wound dressing with human amniotic membrane. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Vol 61.
2) Eskandarlou, Mahdi, et al. (2015), The Healing Effect of Amniotic Membrane in Burn Patients. World Journal of Plastic Surgery, Vol 5., No. 1.