Doris Tyler lay on the examining table as the doctor stuck a long, thin tube into her belly. The doctor pulled back a plunger, and the syringe quickly filled with yellow blobs tinged with pink.“Look at that beautiful fat coming out. Liquid gold!” one of the clinic’s staff exclaimed in a video of the procedure provided to The Washington Post.Hidden in that fat were stem cells with the amazing power to heal, the Stem Cell Center of Georgia had told Tyler. The clinic is one of hundreds that have popped up across the country, many offering treatments for conditions from Parkinson’s disease to autism to multiple sclerosis.Federal regulators have not approved any of their treatments, and critics call such clinics modern-day snake-oil salesmen. But on that day in 2016, Tyler trusted the clinic to extract stem cells from her fat and inject them into her eyes, where she was told they could halt or even cure the macular degeneration threatening her sight.Five days after … [Read more...] about Miracle cures or modern quackery? Stem cell clinics multiply, with heartbreaking results for some patients.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells
With the promise and pitfalls of umbilical cord blood samples in mind, how should parents decide whether to put their baby’s blood on ice, either for their own family’s future use or as a donation for the greater good? It’s a tricky calculation, one that changes based on a family’s risk threshold, dreams for the future and, of course, money.Instead of floundering about aimlessly, let’s start with the professionals. In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists put out an opinion that, at this point, the science doesn’t support routine cord banking. As such, cord banking shouldn’t interfere with normal obstetric or neonatal care, including the timing of cord clamping. “The routine storage of umbilical cord blood as ‘biologic insurance’ against future disease is not recommended,” the authors of that opinion write.The American Academy of Pediatrics largely agrees. In a 2017 policy statement published in … [Read more...] about Should you bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood? Here’s a guide for thinking through the issue.
Medical researchers in Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago / AFP Doctors in Spain have announced the world's first clinical trial to cure five HIV patients within three years using transplants of blood from umbilical cords. Spain’s National Organization of Transplants (ONT) announced a plan that will be the world’s first of its kind to cure five people with HIV over the next three years, recreating the case of the only known person to be completely cured of the virus. Plans for the clinical trial were unveiled at a haematology conference in Valencia on Thursday. The project seeks to be the world’s first clinical trial of its kind by recreating the success of Timothy Ray Brown - the only living person ever to be completely cured of HIV, known as "the Berlin patient". The 157 donors selected by ONT together with national blood banks all have a genetic mutation which allows them to resist HIV. "This project can put us at the cutting edge of this field within … [Read more...] about Spain starts ambitious trial to cure HIV using umbilical cord stem cells
Umbilical cords tie mother and baby together, if only for a brief spell. But the stuff inside these cords has the potential to be useful well after birth. Cells in umbilical cord blood are already being used to treat certain diseases, including leukemia and rare forms of anemia. But for all the excitement about umbilical cord cells, in many ways, this research is still in its infancy.Parents who are optimistic about that research future and want to save these cells have two options in the United States: Public not-for-profit cord banks and private cord banks. Here, about 30 public banks rely on donations from mothers, who don’t have to pay for the donation. After delivery, blood from the umbilical cord and placenta is collected, checked for quality, entered into a registry and then put in a deep freeze. And like the blood that’s collected in blood drives, these cells become available to anyone who might need them — not just the family that donated them.There is … [Read more...] about When deciding whether to bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood, consider these caveats
When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, you have to make a lot of decisions. Will coffee remain a part of your life? Where are you going to give birth? What are you going to name the baby? What values will you teach him? Do you really need a baby spa bathtub?Before my first daughter arrived, an instructor at a birth class threw me a curveball: Was I planning on banking my baby’s umbilical cord blood?For much of pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the lifeline of a fetus, tethering it to the placenta. Snaking through the nearly 2-feet-long cord, there’s a vein ferrying nutrients and oxygen from mom’s blood (via the placenta), plus two arteries carrying oxygen- and nutrient-depleted blood from the fetus back to mom. Because mother’s blood and fetal blood don’t actually mix much, the blood in the placenta and umbilical cord at birth belongs mainly to the fetus.That fetal blood holds all sorts of interesting — and potentially therapeutic … [Read more...] about Umbilical cord banking gets a lot of buzz. Why all the excitement?