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Frequently Asked Questions about Stem Cells

Are umbilical cord stem cells antigenic?

Umbilical cord stem cells do not universally lack antigenicity. However, there are data, published in peer reviewed journals which demonstrate that human umbilical cord stem cells can be non-antigenic, are not necessarily destroyed by the recipient's immune system, can engraft in immunocompetent hosts, and can home in on, and help repair damaged tissue.

The most compelling evidence comes from studies on the beneficial effects of human umbilical cord stem cells injected intravenously into immunocompetent Wistar rats post traumatic brain injury and stroke. The first study (Appendix I, Lu, of traumatic brain injury concluded, "The cells preferentially entered the brain and migrated into the parenchyma of the injured brain and expressed the neuronal markers. Our data suggest that IV administration of HUBC may be useful in the treatment of TBI [traumatic brain injury]." The second study (Appendix II, Chen, of stroke concluded, "Intravenously administered HUCBC enter brain, survive, migrate, and improve functional recovery after stroke. HUCBC transplantation may provide a cell source to treat stroke." Please remember that these studies were done in rats - rats that were not immunosuppressed. It is important to note that antigenicity is generally much stronger across species, ie a rat immune system would react much more potently to human cells vs. rat cells.

A third study in a mouse ALS model showed survival and engraftment of human umbilical cord stem cells in the parenchyma of the brain and spinal cord and expressed neural markers. (Appendix III)

Appendix IV is an article interviewing Dr. Anthony Payne which describes positive results in cerebral palsy patients and stroke patients who received human umbilical cord stem cells without any immunosuppression.

Appendix V is an article about the work done at Duke University demonstrating that transplanted human umbilical cord stem cells became functional heart tissue in a patient, albeit in a patient who was immunosuppressed.

Appendix VI is an article about the spinal cord injury patient in South Korea who walked for the first time in 19 years after having umbilical cord stem cell treatment without immunosuppression.

Appendix VII is a press release by Cord Blood Registry about "embryonic-like" stem cells being found in umbilical cord blood.


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