Umbilical cord is the connecting cord from the developing embryo or foetus to the placenta which allows blood to carry oxygen and nutrition to the baby in the womb. After the baby is delivered, the umbilical cord is cut and normally discarded with the placenta as medical waste until researchers became aware of its medical potential.
Other than containing cord blood, umbilical cord is composed of Wharton’s jelly, umbilical arteries and an umbilical vein. These components are protected by a sheet-like membrane known as cord lining. While Wharton’s jelly contains one type of stem cells - mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), cord lining contains two important types of stem cells including MSC and epithelial stem cells (EpSC).
No. Umbilical cord collection is safe and painless to both mother and child.
Umbilical cord collection can only be done at birth.
Cord lining contains two types of powerful stem cells as opposed to one type from Wharton’s jelly, another part of the umbilical cord. Other than this unique feature, cord lining can also yield more stem cells compared to Wharton’s jelly. About 20 million stem cells can be obtained from each square centimetre of cord lining, while only about 54,000 stem cells can be yielded from each cubic centimetre of Wharton’s jelly.
We would recommend you to store both cord blood and cord lining stem cells as you would be preserving unique biological resources that are equivalent to a ‘self-repair kit’ for your child and possibly, other family members.
Cord blood mainly contains haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) which are powerful stem cells that can be used to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems. These cells have been successfully used to treat many life-threatening diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma and certain other cancers as well as blood disorders.
Cord lining contains unique and powerful stem cells including MSCs and EpSCs that may repair and heal the body in different ways than cord blood. These stem cells have demonstrated immense capability in aiding the repair of injured tissues and organs as well as the treatment of various diseases. MSCs are building blocks of structural tissues of our body such as bone, cartilage and muscle. Cells derived from EpSCs form many parts of our body including skin, hair, cornea, sweat glands as well as other secretor cells, sensing cells and cells that cover vital parts of our body such as liver. The unique ability of MSCs and EpSCs to differentiate into various cell types, makes them promising for cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.
MSCs are multi-potent cells that have displayed the following abilities:
- Under induction, able to divide to form bone, cartilage, muscle, fat and other tissues such as neural tissue, pancreatic tissue under induction;
- Home to site of injury and assist in repair;
- Enhance anti-inflammatory and immunosuppression.
EpSCs are pluripotent and have the capability of being differentiated into all different epithelial cell types. EpSCs are considered a key resource for epidermal and skin regeneration as they have demonstrated the potential in the treatment of skin wounds, ocular surface disorders and eyes with persistent epithelial defect.
Although there is evidence that MSCs can change to certain types of ECs, these cells cannot be changed into Epithelial Stem Cells (EpSCs). The difference between EpSCs and ECs is that EpSCs can differentiate into all different EC types such as skin, cornea, lining of the gut, etc. on demand. Whereas ECs have already reached terminal differentiation so these cells cannot be further differentiated into other EC types when needed. Thus, MSCs and EpSCs cannot be replaced by each other.
Through our strategic partner, Cordlife uses CellOptima™, a patented and proven technology to extract stem cells from your baby’s cord lining. CellOptima™ is an original invention from Singapore. Patent protection of CellOptima™ has been granted by many countries because the technology is novel, first-of-its-kind and useful. All patents granted for CellOptima™ prevents other companies from harvesting stem cells from cord lining. CellOptima™ is only available at Cordlife in India.
Cord lining will be collected by cutting a segment of your baby’s umbilical cord. Obtaining the umbilical cord is just an extension of your baby’s cord blood collection. After your baby’s cord blood has been collected, your obstetrician or midwife will clamp and cut a segment of the umbilical cord. This cord will be stored in a sterile container provided in your Umbilical Cord Collection Kit. This process is entirely safe and painless for both mother and child.
After collection, your baby’s umbilical cord will be sent to Cordlife’s facility in India for processing and cryopreservation. Prior to processing, the identity of the umbilical cord collected is verified by our trained medical technologist to ensure that there is no sample mix up. All subsequent steps are performed within a biohazard safety cabinet to eliminate the risk of contamination. Next, the umbilical cord is further processed by removing all the other components, leaving only cord lining. The cord lining is then cleaned with wash buffer solution and segmented into small pieces. The decontaminated segments are then transferred into multiple cryovials added with cryoprotectant solution to safeguard the viability of the segments during cryopreservation. Every client will have a total of 4 units of 3.6ml cryovials and 2 units of 1.8ml cryovials. The smaller cryovials are used mainly for testing purposes. By storing the segments in multiple cryovials, you have the option to withdraw one cryovial at a time without affecting the viability of segments in other cryovials.
Once the cryoprotectant solution has been added to each cryovial, the segments are frozen gradually in a controlled-rate freezer, where the temperature is lowered by 1-2oC per minute to preserve the viability of the segments. After the controlled-rate freezing process, the cryovials will then be transferred to a MVE vapour-phase liquid nitrogen storage system for long-term cryopreservation at approximately -190oC. This system is used and trusted by many cord blood banks in the world for decades. If you choose to extract stem cells now from your baby’s cord lining for long-term storage, the cells will be harvested from post-thawed cord lining using CellOptima™ and then finally stored long-term until the need for a treatment arises.