Cord blood stem cells can be used as an alternative transplant unit (graft) to bone marrow or peripheral blood, which are also sources of hematopoietic stem cells. Cord blood stem cells have certain comparative advantages to the other two sources:
- They are the most immature cells in the body, and show almost no deterioration by environmental factors, such as viral infections
- The collection of cord blood is easy, fast, painless and noninvasive. It takes place immediately after birth either natural or cesarian.
- Contrary to a bone marrow unit, cord blood stem cells can be readily available to the patient in a few days, The transportation of a cord blood stem cell unit is very easy, whereas selecting a compatible bone marrow donor, proceeding with the collection of the bone marrow and then transporting the unit to the transplantation center takes more time.
- Rejection percentage has been found to be significantly lower in patients who have received a cord blood stem cell transplant from a histocompatible sibling than those who received a bone marrow stem cell transplant from an also histocompatible sibling. (N Engl J Med 1997;337:373-381).