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FAQ on Cord Tissue

What is umbilical cord?

Umbilical cord is the connecting cord from the developing embryo or foetus to the placenta which allows blood to carry oxygen and nutrition to the baby in the womb. After the baby is delivered, the umbilical cord is cut and normally discarded with the placenta as medical waste until researchers became aware of its medical potential.

What is Cord Tissue?

Other than containing cord blood, umbilical cord is composed of Wharton’s jelly, umbilical arteries and an umbilical vein. These components are protected by a sheet-like membrane known as Cord Tissue. While Wharton’s jelly contains one type of stem cells - mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), Cord Tissue contains two important types of stem cells including MSC and epithelial stem cells (EpSC).

Will the collection of umbilical cord harm me or my baby?

No. Umbilical cord collection is safe and painless to both mother and child.

When must the umbilical cord be collected?

Umbilical cord collection can only be done at birth.

Do I need to store both cord blood and Cord Tissue stem cells?

We would recommend you to store both cord blood and Cord Tissue stem cells as you would be preserving unique biological resources that are equivalent to a ‘self-repair kit’ for your child and possibly, other family members.

Cord blood mainly contains haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) which are powerful stem cells that can be used to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems. These cells have been successfully used to treat many life-threatening diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma and certain other cancers as well as blood disorders.

Cord Tissue contains unique and powerful stem cells including MSCs and EpSCs that may repair and heal the body in different ways than cord blood. These stem cells have demonstrated immense capability in aiding the repair of injured tissues and organs as well as the treatment of various diseases. MSCs are building blocks of structural tissues of our body such as bone, cartilage and muscle. Cells derived from EpSCs form many parts of our body including skin, hair, cornea, sweat glands as well as other secretor cells, sensing cells and cells that cover vital parts of our body such as liver. The unique ability of MSCs and EpSCs to differentiate into various cell types, makes them promising for cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.

What are mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)?

MSCs are multi-potent cells that have displayed the following abilities:

Under induction, able to divide to form bone, cartilage, muscle, fat and other tissues such as neural tissue, pancreatic tissue under induction;

Home to site of injury and assist in repair;

Enhance anti-inflammatory and immunosuppression.

What are epithelial stem cells (EpSCs)?

EpSCs are pluripotent and have the capability of being differentiated into all different epithelial cell types. EpSCs are considered a key resource for epidermal and skin regeneration as they have demonstrated the potential in the treatment of skin wounds, ocular surface disorders and eyes with persistent epithelial defect.

Can MSCs differentiate to become Epithelial Stem Cells (ECs)?

Although there is evidence that MSCs can change to certain types of ECs, these cells cannot be changed into Epithelial Stem Cells (EpSCs). The difference between EpSCs and ECs is that EpSCs can differentiate into all different EC types such as skin, cornea, lining of the gut, etc. on demand. Whereas ECs have already reached terminal differentiation so these cells cannot be further differentiated into other EC types when needed. Thus, MSCs and EpSCs cannot be replaced by each other.

How is Cord Tissue collected?

Cord Tissue will be collected by cutting a segment of your baby’s umbilical cord. Obtaining the umbilical cord is just an extension of your baby’s cord blood collection. After your baby’s cord blood has been collected, your obstetrician or midwife will clamp and cut a segment of the umbilical cord. This cord will be stored in a sterile container provided in your Umbilical Cord Collection Kit. This process is entirely safe and painless for both mother and child.