From Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, USA:
Our seven year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost two years ago, and we have just found out that my wife is pregnant. Her obstetrician gave her a pamphlet on the banking of a newborn's umbilical cord and blood for possible future use of stem cells, but I had never heard of this. What is your opinion? It is fairly costly, but if there is even a slight chance that this would help cure my son, it is money well spent.
The answer to your question, in our center at any rate, would be that, at the moment, it would not be worth the expense of banking cord blood stem cells for the treatment of possible type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes in a sibling. In the first place, the chances of a new sibling being affected are only about one in 20. More importantly though, cord blood stems cells do show some initial differentiation, that is to say they are 'mesodermal' in origin and although they can be lifesaving in certain inherited aplastic anemias they cannot develop into 'ectodermal' tissue like brain or 'endodermal' tissues like pancreas. This may not always be the case of course, although it looks as though political pressures may stifle research here in the US, if not in Britain.
A lot of research however is going into looking for other surrogate insulin producing cells from genetic engineering and into ways of circumventing the diminished but still present need to protect cells from autoimmune damage.
Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:Please do not lose track that the applications behind stem cell research remains just that: research, and with the current administration, Federal funding for such research looks to be limited.
Having said that, if you have the resources to bank stem cells for years and years and years and years, gambling that the company is reputable, long-lived, reliable, etc., then such an approach may, one day, indeed prove of benefit to your other child. I am not trying to dissuade you at all, rather, I want to be certain that you do not have inappropriate expectations. Write your President and Congressman about supporting stem cell research for diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Original posting 5 May 2002
Posted to Research: Cure
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:32
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