How can you protect your child’s health for life? You’re going to be a new Mum or Dad – the best feeling ever! And did you know your baby will be part of the first generation that will expect to experience all the benefits of regenerative medicine?
Not many parents, or grandparents, know that baby’s umbilical cord blood may be key to unlocking the next generation of medical therapies, regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine promises to be able to replace or regenerate almost any damaged tissue. Up until recently, medicine has mainly offered support whilst the body self-repaired, at least as best it can. Regenerative medicine enables us to speed up, assist and even replace the body’s natural repair mechanisms, delivering a permanent, like-new repair.
Regenerative medicine is based on stem cells and your baby’s umbilical cord is probably the richest source they will ever have.
What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the blood that remains in your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after they are born and the cord has been clamped and cut. Cord blood contains billions of powerful stem cells that are already being used to treat over 80 different diseases and investigated in hundreds of clinical trials for conditions ranging from arthritis and tendon repair, to brain injury and heart disease. These cells really are the future of medicine.
Not only is cord blood one of the easiest and safest sources of stem cells to access, it is also potentially the most powerful. Stem cells from cord blood are the youngest your baby will ever have, meaning that they are pure and plastic, and can transform into almost any cell in the human body. This gives them a lot of regenerative potential. Your baby’s own cord blood stem cells are also their perfect biological match, so there is no risk of rejection, and they can also be used by you and most likely baby’s siblings too. Cord blood is your family’s unique and personalised key to the regenerative therapies of the future.
There is just one catch - you only have one opportunity to save this resource, in the precious few minutes after baby arrives, which is why it is so important that you start thinking about cord blood banking today.
So what exactly can these stem cells do?
Cord blood stem cells have been saving and improving lives for the last 30 years. They are applied across a huge range of diseases, from immune disorders to cancers, and they are even being used to treat conditions like cerebral palsy and autism.
To date there have been over 1 million cord blood transplants and the growth rate of regenerative therapy appears to be exponential. Cord blood is currently being investigated in clinical trials for the treatment of: brain injury; stroke; multiple sclerosis; heart disease and much more. In the future, researchers anticipate that they will even be used for treatments that currently seem like science fiction – things like growing replacement organs and curing diseases that are a death sentence today. The applications are pretty much without limit.
What is involved in cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking enables you to preserve cord blood stem cells for your baby and family’s exclusive use. They are safely stored in liquid nitrogen and available to protect your child throughout their entire lifetime.
The cord blood collection process is quick, simple and completely safe for both you and baby. It takes place in a separate room after the placenta is delivered and the umbilical cord cut, so it does not interfere with getting to know baby, and you probably won’t even notice when it happens.
When the cord blood has been collected it is picked up from the maternity ward and taken to a specialist laboratory for processing. Once the stem cells have been isolated, they are placed into liquid nitrogen storage. This is where they will remain until your child needs to call upon them for therapy, which will hopefully not be until they in their 60s and 70s, and begin to need a little help growing old in good health.
I am a serial entrepreneur specialising in life sciences and chair two exceptional companies Cells4Life, the UK's largest cord blood stem cell bank, and Stabilitech Biopharma, developer of the world's first 15-strain influenza vaccine and the first platform that will allow any vaccine to be take orally.
I graduated from Imperial with a First Class Honours degree in mathematics and physics and joined IBM during the computing revolution in the 1980s. And 4 years later, at the age of 26, founded my first company which specialised in networking and communications products distribution. It grew to revenues of over $500m in 13 years, employing over 1,200 people operating in 9 European countries with a full listing on the London Stock Exchange. I have run several other companies including a high-speed firewall company based in California; founded one of Europe's largest network training companies; and developed one of the first LAN search engines.
By far, the most rewarding part of my career has been life sciences - it combines my love of science, bleeding edge technology, managing complicated companies and directly helping people achieve better outcomes in their health.
In my personal life, I am a very keen dressage rider and my move from technology to life sciences was because of an injury to one of my horses. I have ridden all my life and had a dream of making Team GB in dressage. I bought Kaspar when he was two years old - he was, and still is, a dream horse to ride and train. He was the first horse that I managed to train to Grand Prix and in 2003 he had a very common injury, he tore a suspensory ligament. Normally, this would mean the end for his competitive career. However, my vet suggested we try stem cells - which at the time was a very rare therapy. They worked brilliantly and he returned to a full and long competition career and he did make Team GB.
Astonishingly, whilst I could treat my horse with stem cells, these therapies were not available to the public. The first cord blood stem cell treatment was performed back in 1988 and were used to treat Fanconi anaemia, today they are being used for over 85 different conditions and are the only therapy for cerebral palsy and autism. Stem cells are the building blocks of regenerative medicine and are going to fundamentally change how we are able to treat most illnesses and injuries - everyone of us needs to know about them and have the opportunity to use them as therapies are developed.
The most powerful stem cells available are potentially those contained in umbilical cord blood. My mission is to promote regenerative medicine and help make it available to everyone.