Brave New World of Stem Cells

Human Embryonic Stem Cell

In the not-so-distant future, someone with a disease might be able heal without being cut open. Stem cells harvested at birth could simply be injected directly into the damage, repairing it from within.

Inside Cryo-Cell International's non-descript warehouse in Oldsmar are stem cells siphoned from the umbilical cord blood of more than 135,000 babies. They lie dormant in a freeze so cold that all molecular movement ceases.

In an industry that's still having birth pangs, Cryo-Cell has grown into one of the top three private cord blood banks in the country. Samples from the blood of 135,000 babies have been put under the microscope and then cryogenically sealed, waiting for the day it's needed.

In the past decade, cord blood has been used primarily to treat diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma. It's also being eyed to treat sickle cell anemia. Recently, cord blood has become an alternative to bone marrow, which also contains blood-producing stem cells.

But a recent study for the American Academy of Pediatrics discouraging new parents from banking cord blood privately. Instead, that group and the American Medical Association are encouraging parents to donate to the growing national network of public blood banks.

To read more about choosing a private cord blood bank, click here.

4202 East Fowler Avenue, TVB100, Tampa, FL 33620-6902 • © 2009 WUSF. All rights reserved.

Geo Visitors Map