Repairing Neural Injuries Using Human Umbilical Cord Blood
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- Sun, T. & Ma, Q. Mol Neurobiol (2013) 47: 938. doi:10.1007/s12035-012-8388-0
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Stem cells are promising sources for repairing damaged neurons and glial cells in neural injuries and for replacing dead cells in neurodegenerative diseases. An essential step for stem cell-based therapy is to generate large quantities of stem cells and develop reliable culture conditions to direct efficient differentiation of specific neuronal and glial subtypes. The human umbilical cord and umbilical cord blood (UCB) are rich sources of multiple stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, unrestricted somatic stem cells, and embryonic-like stem cells. Human UC/UCB-derived cells are able to give rise to multiple cell types of neural lineages. Studies have shown that UCB and UCB-derived cells can survive in injured sites in animal models of ischemic brain damage and spinal cord injuries, and promote survival and prevent cell death of local neurons and glia. Human UCB is easy to harvest and purify. Moreover, unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of human UCB is not limited by ethical quandaries. Therefore, human UCB is an attractive source of stem cells for repairing neural injuries.