Stem cell research has attracted widespread controversy which has called into question the morality of the research. However, it has also been widely used in an attempt to find cures for deadly illnesses such as cancer, which has led many individuals to strongly support the research. Regenerative medicine is the process of creating functional tissues or organs that have been damaged by age or disease. There are different ways for families to take part in regenerative medicine.
The role of stem cell banks
A stem cell bank is a facility where stem cells can be stored for future use. These private banks charge a fee to store the stem cells. The sample can be retrieved at a later date for the use of the individual who deposited the stem cells or members of the family.
How are stem cells collected?
One source of stem cells that has been gaining in popularity is the umbilical cord. This is often referred to as Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells. It is basically the blood that remains in the placenta and in the umbilical cord after childbirth. Cord blood has been found to be a rich source of stem cells. As a result of this finding, cord blood banking has grown in popularity.
There are two different types of cord blood banks. Public banks will collect donated cord blood for research or for anyone who may need it down the road. Private banks will store cord blood for the sole purpose of personal use by the family. Although there is no fee charged for storage at public banks, most public banks will charge a storage fee.
The disadvantages of private banking
In addition to the fee charged for storing the cord blood, which can be substantial, private banking is not usually recommended. The main reason for this is that the likelihood of a healthy family every requiring a stem cell transplant is rare. This is only a good option if you have a child who is a likely candidate for a future stem cell transplant.
In addition, this is a field that requires additional research. To date, there has been little experience with transplanting self donated cells.