Since the first transplantation of cord blood succeeded 30 years ago, about 3,000-4,000 transplants of cord blood are being performed between people with no blood relations through the cord blood bank system. However, only about 5% of stored cord blood is used for the transplant of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Recently, cases of using cord blood to treat various diseases, other than transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells, are increasing rapidly
These cases include clinical trials on conditions like cerebral palsy, autism, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and Type 1 diabetes using monocytes within cord blood. In other cases, HSC transplantations are performed through exterior reproduction of cord blood. Moreover, developing cellular therapy utilizing robust immune cells contained within cord blood, as well as the development of stem cell therapy based on cord blood are becoming the centers of attention recently.
Cord blood contains Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), antigen-specific T-cells, Natural Killer Cells (NK cells), Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) and many others. In the case of MSCs derived from cord blood, many research projects are in process on numerous types of conditions including osteoarthritis and Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD). Positive reports also have been published recently on Type I diabetes and chronic Hepatitis B, types of autoimmune diseases, using Treg cells derived from cord blood.
While clinical studies are still slower than NK cells derived from the bone marrow or peripheral blood, research targeting solid cancer diseases is ongoing through the introduction of Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR) genes, and attempts have been made on GvHD, autoimmune diseases and chronic Hepatitis B using dendritic cells utilizing cord blood.
In an attempt to improve the utility of currently stored cord blood, active support in the national scope should be considered not only for HSC transplantation but also developing remedies for intractable diseases taking advantage of mesenchymal stem cells and immune cells.