Family stores cord tissue for stem cells

A family from Cheshire have become the first in the UK to store tissue from their son’s umbilical cord which could be used to help cure the family of illnesses in the future.

Pro-lifers support the move because, unlike the use of embryonic stem cells, the use of stem cells from cord tissue does not involve the destruction of human embryos.

Although many UK families have already chosen to store blood from umbilical cords, Peter and Paula Aspinall are the first British parents to store cord tissue.

The move means the couple’s baby, Daniel, and their daughter will have access to the stem cells contained in the cord tissue which could help him combat any future health problems.

Daniel’s mother said: “If he were to be paralysed, scientists will use his cord tissue to re-grow his nerves, curing him of immobility.

“He could also use it to beat heart disease and dementia as the cord tissue will be able to regenerate cells in his heart and brain.

“I hope we won’t ever have to, but the potential is truly amazing.”

Medics froze the tissue using liquid nitrogen within 20 minutes of Daniel’s birth last week.

The service, which costs £1,890, will involve the tissue being stored for 20 years at a private tissue bank in Nottingham.

Paula Aspinall commented: “I think it is a waste that the cord is routinely thrown away. I know the chances of needing this sample are very slim and I hope we never have to use it. But the umbilical cord helps give life right from the start so why not make it a potential life-saver for the future?

“It gives us peace of mind, particularly as we know we will probably be able to use it to help both our children, should we need to.”

Research has shown stem cells from cord blood could repair damaged bone, cartilage, tendons and muscles, and combat nerve damage and chronic flammation.

The use of non-embryonic stem cells, also known as ‘adult’ stem cells, has proved far more successful than using stem cells taken from embryos.

In 2008 scientist Colin McGuckin left his position as professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University because he said the Government was failing to fund adult stem cell research.

He told the Times Higher Education: “A vast amount of money in the UK from the Government has gone into embryonic stem-cell research with not one patient having being treated, to the detriment of (research into) adult stem cells, which has been severely underfunded.”

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