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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2009 Dec;106(50):831-6. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2009.0831. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

Stem cells derived from cord blood in transplantation and regenerative medicine.

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Institut für Transplantationsdiagnostik und Zelltherapeutika, José Carreras Stammzellbank, Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.



Physicians of any specialty may be the first persons to whom prospective parents turn for information about the acquisition and storage of stem cells derived from cord blood. Stem cells can potentially be used to treat many diseases, yet they are not a panacea. This article provides an overview of their current and possible future applications.


Original papers were retrieved by a selective search of the literature, and the Internet sites and advertising brochures of private stem cell banks were also examined.


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood (obtained from healthy donors, rather than from the patient to be treated) have been in routine use worldwide for more than ten years in the treatment of hematopoietic diseases. Experiments in cell culture and in animal models suggest that these cells might be of therapeutic use in regenerative medicine, but also show that this potential can be realized only if the cells are not cryopreserved. There is as yet no routine clinical application of autologous hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood (self-donation of blood), even though cord blood has been stored in private banks for more than ten years.


Autologous stem cells from cord blood have poor prospects for use in regenerative medicine, because they have to be cryopreserved until use. Physicians should tell prospective parents that they have no reason to feel guilty if they choose not to store cord blood in a private bank.


adult stem cells; allogeneic transplantation; blood products; hematopoietic stem cells; stemcell therapy

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