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What is umbilical cord blood?

Pupočníková krvCord blood is the blood of a newborn that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after birth. It contains precious stem cells, which have a number of special characteristics: they are very young, they have a very good ability to multiply, and they are not burdened by lifestyle or acquired diseases of the body from which they originated. Later in life, they are no longer created or they are found in the blood only rarely.

Cord blood is one of the sources of blood-forming stem cells which have been used for more than 60 years – in particular in the treatment of cancer and blood diseases such as leukaemia, lymphomas, organ tumours, hereditary and acquired disorders of blood-formation, immune system, metabolism and more. With most of these diseases, blood-formation (haematopoiesis) fails in the bone marrow. Red and white blood cells and platelets cease to be formed in it. The only way to save the patient’s life at that time is to give them healthy blood-forming cells. In the past, these were obtained as blood-forming stem cells from bone marrow, in the last decade it has been possible to remove stem cells from cord blood and store them for future use.

Although we now speak about using cord blood for treatment of blood-formation diseases, worldwide there are dozens of research projects and clinical studies into using stem cells from cord blood in the field of regenerative medicine. This field is focussed on the renewal (regeneration) of damaged organs.

Current use and clinical studies of stem cells

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