Because umbilical cord blood is especially rich in stem cells (cells that give rise to red blood cells and lymphocytes) some parents choose to save it in private cord blood banks in case of future need as a transplant alternative to bone marrow, but in many diseases treated with stem cells such autologous transplants are contraindicated. Studies have shown that people not related to the donor (genetically mismatched) can benefit from transplants of umbilical cord blood in combating leukemia and other cancers. Cord blood has also been used to repair heart and other tissue defects in children with certain metabolic disorders.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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