What are stem cells ?

Stem cells are unique pluripotent progenitor cells, from which all types of cells of a living organism are formed, f.i. blood, tissues, muscles, immune and nervous system, heart and other organs.

What are the known sources of stem cells?

The main sources of stem cells are:

• bone marrow

• peripheral blood (blood that is contained in the veins and arteries)

• umbilical cord blood

• placenta

Stem cells can also be obtained from the adipose tissue and root apexes of milk molars , nasopharyngeal mucosa (in the olfactory receptors deterministic stem cells are found, from which the cells of the nervous tissue can be grown in culture).

In the treatment of what diseases can stem cells be used?

Clinical experience of stem cells application in different countries permits to talk about the treatment of more than 70 life-threatening diseases, including those with hereditary nature. In most cases stem cells are used for the treatment of leukemias and genetically related diseases (immune deficiencies , metabolic diseases , congenital disorders of hematopoiesis) in a operation, commonly known as bone marrow transplantation, as well as in the treatment of cancer , diabetes mellitus , muscular dystrophies, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and many others.

Is there any experience of stem cells applicatiom in the treatment of diseases in Ukraine? If so, what conditions and where?

Ukraine has always been famous all over the world for significant achievements in the field of cryobiology and cryomedicine, and the methods of cryopreservation of biological material, developed by domestic scientists, were always ahead of the world’s best venues. In Ukraine in 1984 for the first time in Europe the samples of umbilical cord blood were frozen. And in 2012, Ukraine became the first country in the Union of Independent States, where treatment with stem cells obtained state registration. The Ministry of Health officially approved methods of treatment of pancreatic necrosis, critical limbs ischemia, burns, chilblains and injuries with the use of cellular products, developed by the Institute of Cell Therapy (Kiev) and the Gusak Institute of Urgent and Reconstructive Surgery (Donetsk). Cell therapy clinics, the members of the Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells have significant positive experience in stem cell therapy and cosmetology.

What is cord blood?

Umbilical cord blood is the blood, that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after birth. Previously, it was considered useless material and was not used. Studies have shown that cord blood is a valuable source of stem cells and can be collected and cryopreserved for future use as a treatment for diseases and revitalization purposes.

Cord blood is a potential source of stem cells for the treatment of disorders, in which bone marrow transplant is needed, as well as to restore lost functions and the effect of rejuvenation.

When is cord blood collected ?

Immediately after the birth of a child. This is the only way to get it.

How safe is the procedure of cord blood collection?

This procedure is completely safe and perfomed without any physical contact with the newborn. Immediately after birth and separation of the child from the umbilical cord, the aspiration needle of the system for the cord blood collection is introduced into the umbilical vein on its placenta end and the umbilical cord blood flows spontaneously into the container.

Cord blood can be collected both at physiological delivery and at birth by caesarean section.

What are “cryobanks” ?

Cryobanks are specialized medical facilities, which material and technical base allows to process, test and store biological material, including stem cells from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, reproductive cells and tissues etc in liquid nitrogen at a temperature – 196 C.

Where can cord blood be preserved in Ukraine ?

There are 2 licensed cryobanks among the members of the Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells, that have the appropriate material and technical base and provide this service. They are  Institute for Cell Therapy (Kiev) and Gusak Institute of Urgent and Reconstructive Surgery (Donetsk).

How long can cord blood stem cells be stored?

Today we can say with full confidence that the umbilical cord blood stem cells, stored at the cryobanks, created in the Institute of Cell Therapy (Kiev) and Husak Institute of Urgent and Reconstructive Surgery (Donetsk) can retain almost full viability (96 %) for an unlimited period of time. This is confirmed by the extensive experience of successful clinical use of the frozen donor samples. And that is to say that the Institute of Cell Therapy (Kiev) and Gusak Institute of Urgent and Reconstructive Surgery received permission of Coordinating Center for Organ Transplantation of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to conduct clinical trials, using cord blood stem cells.

Can cord blood stem cells be used to treat child’s relatives ?

Autologous (own) stem cells are genetically ideal for the child. However, with high evidence they may be used for the closely related transplantation, particularly for siblings. It is also known that the use of cord blood, even in the case of the incomplete immunological compatibility, has the lower risk of “graft versus host” syndrome, compared to the transplantation of bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells of an adult donor.

Is it worth to store the umbilical cord blood stem cells of a newborn ?

Only you can decide, whether it is necessary for your family. Storing cord blood stem cells can be regarded as your confidence in the future, as a biological insurance of child’s health, especially in the following cases

• there is genetic predisposition to certain diseases in the family

• older child is sick and needs a stem cell transplant

• this is a long-awaited pregnancy in the result of “in vitro” fertilization

• You are happy parents with many children

What should adults do, who do not have their own supply of umbilical cord blood, if they are indicated stem cell treatment ?

In this case it is necessary to consider the possibility of obtaining stem cells from peripheral blood (after pre-stimulation of hematopoiesis), or bone marrow. As a source of adult stem cells the adipose tissue, uterus endometrium, milk and wisdom teeth are also investigated, but the methods of treatment of diseases with the use of these cells are still in the early stages of pre-clinical and clinical studies.

Who is indicated the preservation of reproductive cells and tissues ?

Preservation of reproductive cells and tissues is indicated, above all, to the cancer patients, who will be exposed to chemotherapy or irradiation, that can cause infertility, as well as to healthy women, who have decided to postpone the birth of a child for an indefinite term. After curing cancer, frozen reproductive tissue can be used to restore fertility.

Where reproductive cells and tissues can be stored and subsequently used in Ukraine?

In Ukraine you can save reproductive cells and tissues in the cryobank of the Institute of Cell Therapy. The collection of the ovarian tissue in women may be carried out in our gynecological partner-clinics, where the expert of the Institute of Cell Therapy with the necessary transporting container will arrive. The reimplantation of the frozen ovarian tissue, as well as perfomance of fertilization using frozen sperm in assisted reproductive technologies, may be conducted in the reproductive clinics of Ukraine, with which the Institute of Cell Therapy collaborates, or in any other foreign clinic, that has experience of such manipulations.

What is the world experience of cryopreservation and reimplantation of frozen reproductive tissues and cells today?

Cryopreservation of sperm is used for a long time (over 50 years) in the world, this procedure has become a routine practice for male patients of reproductive age prior gonadotoxic treatment (chemotherapy/irradiation) in oncologic clinics in the developed countries. The practice of cryopreservation of ovarian tissue in women is being actively developed in the last decade. However, at least 25 children were born in the world to women after reimplantation of the frozen ovarian tissue .

Are there any guarantees of safe storage of stem cells in the cryobanks of the Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells?

Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells accepts only licensed cryobanks of the country with an excellent reputation, proven methodologies, appropriate laboratory equipment for the quality of processing of umbilical cord blood, which can confirm the experience of successful transplants.

What happens if one of cryobanks-members of the Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells leaves the market?

Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells accepts only licensed, financially stable and dynamically developing cryobanks, which do not plan to stop their operations in the foreseeable future. However, realizing the great responsibility to our customers for the safety of their samples, an agreement on mutual transfer of samples, deposited in the cryobank-partner, was signed between member cryobanks of the Association. Due to this agreement,  if the cryobank, which accepted the cord blood sample for storage will stop its operation, the sample will be transferred to the cryobank successor after signing the appropriate contract with the customer. In case, if the customers refuse to use the services of the cryobank successor, they can transfer their sample to the foreign cryobank.

If we decide to be treated abroad, will the umbilical cord blood samples or transplants of other cells be accepted there, if they are processed and stored in the member cryobank of Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells?

Techniques of procession and testing of umbilical cord blood, used in cryobanks of the Institute of Cell Therapy and Gusak Institute of Urgent and Reconstructive Surgery meet the requirements of the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, setting standards of quality and safety for the donation, procurement, testing, processing, preservation, storage and distribution of human tissues and cells, according to which all accredited banks are operating in Europe. Also, the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Association of Cryobanks of the Umbilical Cord Blood, Other Human Tissues and Cells provide assistance for the Ukrainian patients in the selection of licensed clinics and qualified professionals for the treatment abroad.