Cord blood yields ‘ethical’ embryonic stem cells

New scientist is carrying a story about the use of cord blood in the preparation of embryonic stem cells. When K & I saw references to preservation of cord blood around the hospital we thought that it was to be preserved for later use by the baby in the case of operations and anemia. Now I am wondering whether they actually want it for other people. In which case my eagerness is slightly less!

And there’s another thing – what is different about the blood flowing through the cord anyway? I thought that a baby’s immune system was suppressed during gestation and for a while after (while breast-feeding?) and that that was necessary since the baby was receiving umbilical infusions of its mother’s blood (and antibodies etc). Is the blood different in the placenta? Is the placenta maintaining its own blood supply that is cut off from that of the mother? How does it get oxygenated?

So many questions.

2 comments

  1. Surely any stem cells gained from your babies’ umbilical blood could be used to provide stem-cell based therapy for the baby in question later in life.

    If I were you, I would be trying to ensure as many as possible of the babies’ embryonic stem cells (or potential stem cells from umbilical blood) were stored for future use. That way a brain tumour developed at age 46 can be removed and the brain tissue re-grown from introduced stem cells. Advanced liver disease can be cured by introducing stem cells to replace any dead liver cells, etc, etc…

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