Category Archives: Embryonic vs. Cord stem cells

Cord Blood Stem Cell vs Embryonic Stem Cell

Cord Blood Awareness Month is celebrated every July. Every couple out there, newlyweds or not, should have the right to be properly informed either to stored their newborn’s umbilical cord or donate it in public cord banks. However, the biggest problem until now is – this simple process of collecting stem cells embraces various misconceptions and controversies. Some people who are not well-informed about this procedure think it is unethical and some mistakenly associate it with embryonic stem cell.

The cord blood stem cells are entirely different from embryonic stem cells. In cord blood, you only use the stem cell found in baby’s umbilical cord. When a baby is delivered, the doctor removes his umbilical cord and placenta. Instead of throwing it away, the blood (which contains stem cells) inside the cord and placenta is squeeze out using a syringe and store in a fridge. Collecting cord blood is a safe procedure and it will not hurt the mother or the baby. In fact, this procedure is performed because scientists confirmed the younger the cells, the bigger the possibilities of curing fatal diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, Parkinson’s, spinal injury, etc.

While in embryonic stem cell, its collection process is complicated. It’s considered unethical because it requires you to kill a life. The nucleus of the embryo cell is removed, transferred to a human egg and results to cloned embryo. The cloned human embryo is developed and destroyed just to harvest the stem cells.

Stem cells can either be found in cord blood or embryonic but when these cells are harvested, it plays similar roles – that is – to cure diseases which many think are irreversible. Embryonic stem cell might be as effective as cord blood cell; It just attempts to give a right solution but its unethical procedures is unacceptable to humanity. It’s unnecessary to destroy a human life just to save another life, right?

Embryonic vs. Cord Stem Cells

What is the big difference of a stem cell from the embryo versus the umbilical cord blood from a newborn?

This is the debate that rages on. Here we will layout the differences in the hopes of bringing some clarity to this.

Embryonic Stem Cells

As their title suggests, they are taken from the embryo (egg). The problem is that to obtain these stem cells, the embryo must be destroyed… hence the controversy of killing unborn fetuses. In theory, embryonic stem cells can produce any other specialized cell in the body.

First isolated by James Thompson of the University of Wisconsin Madison. This was funded by the biotech company Geron in 1998.

These stem cells could be used to make any one of 200 different cell types in the human body. More importantly, these cells could be used to treat genetic diseases like Parkinson’s, heart disease, diabetes, or a host of others. Five days after conception the cells are collected from a blastocyst. This blastocyst is destroyed (the egg is unusable) to get the cells out.

Fun fact: Number of clinical trials: 0

Umbilical Cord Blood Cells

Parents are paying to have their baby’s cord blood cells saved (really they are frozen) as a biological insurance. This insurance is going to be hypothetically used to replace or repair the newborn’s cells, or even organs in the future. These cells are less likely to be made into any cell the body can produce, but have already been used in treating cancer.

  • First Patient was a 5 year old boy with Fanconi’s anemia in 1988. He is still alive and doing well after the treatment.
  • Cord cells have untapped potential and are currently being used about 60% of the time to treat leukemia.
  • A few cells are picked from about a billion cells found in the umbilical cord.

Fun fact: Number of clinical trials: 50