Cord Blood Banking: Help for Dementia?

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How Cord Blood Banking May Reverse the Hands of Time for Dementia Patients

Millions of people are diagnosed with a neurological disease each year. From a traumatic brain injury to Alzheimer’s disease, these severe ailments all lack beneficial treatment options. Cord Blood Banking may hold hope.

Patients that succumb to brain diseases suffer immensely alongside their families. Caring for these ill-impaired patients is a full-time job.

However, there is hope for these patients. The blood that comes from a newborn’s umbilical cord may have the ability to reverse neurological diseases, especially for patients with Alzheimer’s.

Previously, cord blood was always thrown out as medical waste. Yet, researchers have found the possibilities of what cord blood cells can do for neurological conditions.

What is Blood Cord Banking?

Umbilical Cord Blood Could Be a Life-Changing Treatment Alternative

In the past, scientists have studied how old age affects the human body. Studies have indicated that people die of old age because their stem cells – the same type found in cord blood – are depleted.

Cord blood has a potent source of stem cells that can change into different cells, including neural.

If the cord blood can replace the exhausted stem cells in a dementia patient, the patient’s stem cells could be entirely replenished. Essentially, doctors could seemingly extend the lives of people with stem cell treatment.

In other words, stem cells might have an anti-aging effect after receiving treatment and improve cognitive function. That’s because scientists discovered that cord blood contains a protein responsible for neuroplasticity.

This part of the brain allows neurons to communicate more effectively.

When scientists injected human cord blood into elderly mice, they found that their learning and memory tests improved. They even started nesting again, making a bed of cotton — instinctive behavior mice forget as they get old.

The studies show that cord blood enters the brain and restores certain processes essential for forming new memories. Cord blood can be a potential treatment for your family when parents choose to donate their newborn’s umbilical cord blood to a cord blood bank.

The Collection and Storage Process of Cord Blood

The good news about donated cord blood is that it can be made available to anyone who needs a blood stem cell transplant. It can also be available for further research.  The cost of cord blood banking is zero – there’s no cost to donate cord blood publicly.

Here’s how the collection and storage process works:

1 Collecting Blood

As soon as the baby is delivered, doctors clamp the umbilical cord. They collect the blood before or after the placenta is delivered.

The blood is then collected into a sterile bag which receives an identification number and is stored temporarily.

2 Transporting

The next part of the process is where they transport cord blood to a cord blood bank. First, they have to test the cord blood to determine the level of match to potential recipients. They must also check for cell counts and infectious diseases like AIDS or hepatitis.

Additionally, they check the cord blood to ensure it has enough blood-forming cells for a successful transplant. If they have too few cells, the cord blood can be used for research or discarded.

3 Storing

If the cord blood proves sufficient, the next step is to freeze the blood and store it at extremely low temperatures. Typically, the blood is stored in liquid nitrogen and used in the future.

Once the cord blood is ready for a transplant, it ships to a transplant center. Then it’s thawed and infused into the patient.

Why Is Cord Blood Banking Critical?

Approximately one in six people worldwide have dementia each day. This degenerative brain disorder triggers a loss of cognitive function. Dementia patients eventually lose their ability to remember, reason or think. One example of a critical impact is the increased difficulty to remain safe in the home.

While drugs are available to help slow down the progression and some symptoms, there is no viable cure for the disease.

Many lifestyle, environmental and hereditary factors may play a role in the causes of dementia. However, no one entirely understands why this diagnosis occurs.

Therefore, researchers believe cord blood could help restore parts of the brain, especially the hippocampus — essential for assisting people in forming long-term memories.

The hippocampus is vulnerable to aging. As it degenerates, it loses nerve cells and shrinks. This form of deterioration is also an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Reversing the Signs of Aging

When older mice received cord blood, scientists found that their hippocampal function had improved significantly. Upon discovering that umbilical cord blood could help old brains act younger, scientists needed to know what secret ingredient yielded beneficial results.

Eventually, they discovered a protein called TIMP2. TIMP2 has been studied in the past. However, not enough research has been formed to study the effects of aging.

With the extent of research on TIMP2, it could be beneficial in severe synaptic and neuronal dysfunction.

While the positive effects of memory and learning in mice give signs of hope, more relevant findings are still needed.

These studies only look at memory and thinking patterns in aging mice. It doesn’t directly relate to those involved in dementia. However, other studies have indicated that mice with Alzheimer’s disease improved their cognitive abilities with stem cell treatment.

These animals had significantly longer lifespans and remained more active for a longer period. Additionally, they remained cognitively active longer than normal. Yet, more research is needed to achieve similar results in people with dementia.

Therefore, cord blood banking is a critical component for further findings in the future and could save or extend the lives of future generations.

What to Expect?

While several studies have suggested that cord blood may repair neurological diseases, some findings are controversial. For one, scientists often can’t reproduce the same results. It’s also not entirely clear how cord blood has such effects.

However, today’s research aims to uncover these setbacks to establish whether these treatments are safe and effective.

Certain clinical trials have explored the use of cord blood transplants. Yet, such tests did not show any positive results. Therefore, researchers have a good starting point for more studies and could have the potential to treat certain diseases.

It’s a matter of time until there is a bright future for the younger generations.

About the Author

Therapy Pools

Beth Rush

Beth Rush

Beth Rush is the Managing Editor and Content Manager at Body+Mind.

Body+Mind features articles about diet, fitness, mental health, parenting and health care.



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