Storage of newborn stem cells for future use.
Human placental cord blood contains a large number of hematopoietic progenitor cells, which could be used as a source of stem cells for the treatment of hematologic disorders and malignancies. Advantages of cord blood use include noninvasive collection, low risk for viral infection, and immunologic naivete. Cord blood may be used as stem-cell rescue in all applications of bone marrow transplantation, including gene therapy. Given this potential utility, questions are raised regarding the regulation of cord-blood collection, storage, and use. Should the prospective parent(s) donate the infant's cord blood for treatment of unrelated recipients, or should they invest in cord-blood storage as biologic "life insurance" for the child's later use? This issue presents many conflicts for families and their health care providers.
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