Umbilical cord blood: a unique source of pluripotent stem cells for regenerative medicine

Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2007 Dec;2(4):301-9. doi: 10.2174/157488807782793790.


It is estimated that almost 1 in 3 individuals in the United States might benefit from regenerative medicine therapy. Unfortunately, embryonic stem (ES) cell therapies are currently limited by ethical, political, biological and regulatory hurdles. Thus, for the foreseeable future, the march of regenerative medicine to the clinic will depend upon the development of non-ES cell therapies. Current sources of non-ES cells easily available in large numbers can be found in the bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord blood. Each of these types of stem cells has already begun to be utilized to treat a variety of diseases. This review will show that cord blood (CB) contains multiple populations of ES-like and other pluripotential stem cells, capable of giving rise to hematopoietic, epithelial, endothelial, and neural tissues both in vitro and in vivo. Cumulatively, the identification and isolation of these populations of pluripotent stem cells within cord blood represents a scientific breakthrough that could potentially impact every field of medicine, via their use in regenerative medicine. Thus, CB stem cells are amenable to treatment of a wide variety of diseases including cardiovascular, hepatic, ophthalmic, orthopaedic, neurological and endocrine diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Banks
  • Bone Regeneration / physiology
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / trends
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Fetal Blood* / cytology
  • Fetal Blood* / metabolism
  • Fetal Blood* / transplantation
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells* / cytology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells* / transplantation
  • Rats
  • Regenerative Medicine* / ethics
  • Regenerative Medicine* / methods
  • Regenerative Medicine* / trends
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Wound Healing / physiology