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Keywords:

  • umbilical cord blood;
  • stem cells;
  • regenerative medicine;
  • tissue engineering

Summary

Embryonic stem (ES) cell therapies are often promoted as the optimal stem cell source for regenerative medicine applications because of their ability to develop into any tissue in the body. Unfortunately, ES cell applications are currently limited by ethical, political, biological and regulatory hurdles. However, multipotent non-ES cells are available in large numbers in umbilical cord blood (CB). CB stem cells are capable of giving rise to hematopoietic, epithelial, endothelial and neural tissues both in vitro and in vivo. Thus, CB stem cells are amenable to treat a wide variety of diseases including cardiovascular, ophthalmic, orthopaedic, neurological and endocrine diseases. In addition, the recent use of CB in several regenerative medicine clinical studies has demonstrated its pluripotent nature. Here we review the latest developments in the use of CB in regenerative medicine. Examples of these usages include cerebral palsy and type I diabetes. The numbers of individuals affected with each of these diseases are estimated at 10 000 infants diagnosed with cerebral palsy annually and 15 000 youths diagnosed with type 1 diabetes annually. A summary of the initial results from such clinical studies using autologous cord blood stem cells will be presented.