Stem cell biology

Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 669-676

First online:

Umbilical cord blood banking: an update

  • Merlin G. ButlerAffiliated withDepartments of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics, Kansas University Medical Center Email author 
  • , Jay E. MenitoveAffiliated withCommunity Blood Center of Greater Kansas City

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Umbilical cord blood is a potential vast source of primitive hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells available for clinical application to reconstitute the hematopoietic system and/or restore immunological function in affected individuals requiring treatment. Cord blood can be used as an alternative source for bone marrow transplantation and its use is developing into a new field of treatment for pediatric and adult patients presenting with hematological disorders, immunological defects and specific genetic diseases.


More than 25,000 allogeneic cord blood transplantations have been performed worldwide since the first cord blood transplantation in 1988. There are two banking options for storing umbilical cord blood [private (family) and public]. Cord blood stored in private banks are used for either autologous or allogeneic transplants for the infant donor or related family members but private cord blood banks are not searchable or available to the public. More than 780,000 cord blood units are stored in over 130 private cord blood banks, worldwide, and over 400,000 units in more than 100 quality controlled public cord blood banks.


Researchers continue to evaluate the usefulness of cord blood cells in treating human diseases or disorders for purposes other than hematological disorders including heart disease, strokes, brain or spinal cord injuries and cancer. This review summarizes the status of umbilical cord blood banking, its history and current and potential use in the treatment of human disease.


Umbilical cord blood Public and private cord blood banks Transplantation Clinical applications Regenerative medicine