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What is Stem Cell?

Stem cells are resources of all cells, tissues, and organs in an organism. They fill the blank between the fertilized egg and the end structure. As we age, stem cells renew the damaged, worn out, and spoiled tissues. Stem cells have the ability of self-regeneration and differentiation into different bodily cell types in different ratios.

Stem cell research has been going on for more than 20 years. Most of the information about the cells has been collected from blood cell cycles and research done on laboratory mice. In 2000s, after increased number of studies based on Stem cell therapy, it has become the most controversial topic ever discussed.

Where Stem Cells Are Obtained From?

Today, the most commonly used resource of stem cells is the bone marrow. Bone marrow stem cells are progenitors of hematopoietic cells and they can differentiate into cells found in blood.

Resources of stem cells might be as followings;

  • Embryonic Stem cells
  • Fetal Stem cells
  • Adult Stem cells

Embryonic Stem Cells:

Embryonic stem cells develop from the zygote which forms two-celled structure followed by fertilization. A 150-celled globe called Blastocyst forms 5 days after fertilization. Blastocyst consist of little sand like cells and contains only two types of cells; trophoblasts and cluster of cells located in the center. This cluster of cells come together and form embryonic stem cells. And these embryonic stem cells can form any type of adult cells.

Fetal Stem Cells:

One of the potential resources of stem cells are early fetal tissue. 7-8 weeks after fertilization, embryo is called fetus. Embryonic germ line form eggs and sperms in ovary and testicles in 4-5th week of development. Concept of collection of Embryonic germ cells and production in culture first came out in 1998. It is determined that stem cells obtained from cell cluster of blastocyst are same as these germ cells after isolated and produced in culture. However, findings of studies proved that these embryonic germ cells have restricted ability to differentiate into other cell types.

Adult Stem Cells:

Adult stem cells are different than the ones obtained from embryo and fetus and they are found in tissues developed in humans and animals after birth. In addition, the most suitable source of these stem cells to be obtained is Bone marrow located in the center of some bones. Bone marrow is usually extracted from a part of in the back of upper hip bone called “Krista iliac”. There are different types of stem cells in bone marrow including hematopoietic stem cells, endothelial stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells. It is known that hematopoietic stem cells make blood, endothelial stem cells make vascular system (arteries and veins) and mesenchymal stem cells make bone, cartilage, muscle, fat and fibroblasts. It is assumed that stem cells can form into each other and at some day some of them will have a wide ability to differentiate into even more cell types than present. This means it is possible to regenerate damaged organs such as liver, kidney, heart and lungs only by adult bone marrow stem cells known its ability to form blood. Even though it is very interesting promising, scientists consider this subject very controversial. A careful and meticulous researches about abilities of stem cells and comparison between embryonic stem cells are highly needed.

KResources of stem cells other than bone marrow and mesenchymal stem cells are as in followings;

  • Umbilical Cord Blood: adult stem cells can also be obtained from umbilical cord of a newborn. It is easy to access than bone marrow and brain and has higher potential of reproduction.

  • Deciduous teeth: stem cells obtained from umbilical cord or deciduous dental pulp are younger than stem cells obtained from adults. They are more capable to grow in culture than many adult cells and they have an ability to create multiple tissue types. The potential of ability to differentiate into several cell types has been widely studied.

  • Adipocytes: Stem cells isolated from liposuction material for esthetic purpose in many centers abroad, are preserved for patient’s future needs.

What Is Umbilical Cord and What Is Its Function?

In the womb, baby is fed by maternal blood via umbilical cord through placenta. Placenta (also known as afterbirth) is an organ structure that allows nutrient uptake and oxygen exchange between mother and baby.

After birth, placenta taken out from uterus with the baby, becomes unnecessary tissue for both baby and mother and usually is thrown away. Umbilical Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta. The process of collection of stem cell rich blood is pain-free and has not any complication risks.

How to Collect Cord Blood?

Gynecologist and laboratory where procedure will be performed, must be prepared before 1-2 weeks before the birth. Required equipment and documents must be ready.

Umbilical Cord blood is collected right after the birth by the gynecologist or a Genkord Staff. There are no differences between the process is going to be follow in normal delivery and C-section.

Right after the baby born, a clamp is put in the middle of the umbilical cord and cut it. And baby is taken to the newborn unit in order to check medical conditions. The blood drains into a collection bag. It is scientifically observed that blood collection before removing placenta is more successful. The collection process is painless and safe for you and your baby and does not affect the delivery. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes has no difficulties. The more blood we collect, the more stem cells we will have. 90 ml of blood should be collected and it is enough to fill collection bag half. Collected blood must be delivered to our laboratory in 24-36 hours and it must be preserved at room temperature during the process. There is no need to use a cooler such as ice or dry ice unless it is too hot and samples are not allowed to put in deep freezer.

For Whom Stem Cell Therapy is Going to Be Used?

It can be used for the baby which are taken from itself as well as the parents and siblings unless there is histo-incompatibility. It is known that there is highest score of tissue compatibility between first degree relatives, especially between siblings.

If differentiated cells in our body has been seriously damaged or diseased, they cannot regenerate naturally. Stem cells are used to create healthy and functional cells to replace these damaged or diseased cells. Procedure of replacement diseased cells with the new ones called “Cell Therapy” is similar to organ transplantations. However, instead of using organs, this time cells are transplanted.

Stem cells can be used as regenerative and transformative resources of differentiated cells. Researchers investigate the possibility of stem cells as treatments for several diseases by differentiating adult, fetal and embryonic stem cells into cell types like nerve, muscle, blood and skin cells.

For instance, In Parkinson disease stem cells can be used to create a special kind of nerve cells that secrete dopamine. Theoretically, a treatment will be provided by transplanting these nerves cells to where they can rearrange patient’s brain stimulations and regain its functions.

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Genkord Biotechnology and Health Services are founded as an umbilical cord blood bank in 2003.

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