Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is an increasingly important and rich source of stem cells. These cells can be used for the treatment of many diseases, including cancers and immune and genetic disorders.
For patients for whom no suitable related donor is available, this source of hematopoietic stem cells offers substantial advantages, notably the relative ease of procurement, the absence of risk to the donor, the small likelihood of transmitting clinically important infections, the low risk of severe graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and the rapid availability of placental blood for transplantation centers.
Even though almost 80 diseases are treatable with cord blood stem cells, 97 percent of cord blood is still disposed of after birth and lost for patients in need! To improve availability of stem cells to a broader community, efforts should be undertaken to collect cord blood and expectant parents should be properly informed of their options with regard to cord blood banking.