Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) are a safe and ethical source of adult stem cells that can be used in all kinds of regenerative medicine therapies.

Umbilical cord MSCs and MSCs derived from donor placentas are recovered after birth from tissue that would ordinarily be discarded. No harm is caused to the baby or mother, and no unborn embryos are involved in the process.

Cutting-edge facilities like the Swiss Medica stem cells clinic use these MSCs to treat patients with a wide range of conditions, from degenerative neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s to brain injuries from stroke, to children with autism.

Overview of Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine dates back as far as the Ancient Greeks. They were aware of the liver’s ability to regenerate, even naming the organ ‘hepar’ from their word to ‘repair oneself’.

Since the discovery of stem cells, regenerative medicine has focused on using the body’s ability to stimulate cell renewal and differentiation, crucially allowing new cells with specialized functions like brain, bone and muscle tissue.

The Role of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) in Regeneration

Present-day stem cell therapies make use of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs). These are cells with the capacity for self-renewal and multilineage differentiation. MSCs are ‘adult’ cells, in that they are not obtained from embryos. No harm is caused to the donor and there is no loss of human life – either actual or embryonic potential.

Sources of MSCs: Umbilical Cord and Placenta

In most cases, MSCs are recovered from umbilical and placental tissues. This material would otherwise be discarded and, after childbirth, is no longer needed for any function.

The Advantages of Umbilical Cord-Derived MSCs

Umbilical cord MSCs are harvested from Wharton’s jelly, the connective tissue that surrounds the umbilical cord’s vein and arteries. The cord is cut into lengths and stored cryogenically, so MSCs do not need to be used immediately after birth.

This creates a safe, ethical source of MSCs free from immediate time pressures, and a reliable supply of stem cells for the treatment of adult recipients.

The Benefits of Placenta-Derived MSCs

Placenta-derived MSCs are a relatively recent innovation in regenerative medicine, but have benefits compared with other sources of adult stem cells. Research shows that placenta-derived MSCs have higher reproductive potential (almost twice that of adipose or bone marrow) leading to faster recovery.

Placenta MSCs have also been linked with improved immunomodulatory properties, making them a good candidate for treating autoimmune responses.

The Benefits of Placenta-Derived MSCs

Therapeutic Applications of Umbilical Cord and Placenta-Derived MSCs

MSCs can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. Some examples of these are provided below.

Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases

The stronger immunomodulatory properties of placenta-derived MSCs make them an excellent option to treat autoimmune diseases such as:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Type 1 diabetes

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body attacks its own healthy tissue. Stem cell therapies combat the potentially devastating consequences.

Regeneration and Repair in Organ Damage

Regenerative medicine has its origins in the liver’s ability to self-heal, and treatment using placental and umbilical stem cells continues that tradition.

While stem cells do not grow a replacement organ, they stimulate cell growth and renewal, including specialized cells that help to restore the lost function from organ damage.

Neurodegenerative Disorders

Neurodegenerative disorders are one of the biggest challenges to conventional medicine. Stem cell therapies can be used to delay the progression of neurological damage in conditions such as:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Ataxia
  • Autism
  • Diffuse axonal injury
  • Lyme disease
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Treatment with stem cells can improve the presentation of symptoms and help to slow progression, giving patients longer to enjoy a better quality of life.

Comparative Advantages Over Other MSC Sources

We have already noted some of the advantages of umbilical and placental MSCs. One of the biggest is the availability of donor tissue after childbirth without the need for any invasive harvesting. No adipose fat or bone marrow must be extracted; the umbilical cord and placenta can simply be collected after birth and taken for processing.

Challenges, Ethics, and the Future Outlook

Compared with alternatives (e.g. embryonic stem cells) there are relatively few challenges or ethical concerns associated with placental and umbilical MSCs. Continued research should further enhance the effectiveness of therapies using these cells, as well as the methods used to recover and store the stem cells until they are needed.

In Conclusion

Regenerative medicine has been proven effective in successive clinical studies and organizations like Swiss Medica continue to work on further improvements to stem cell therapies.

As a source of safe, ethical and highly effective MSC cells, both the umbilical cord and the placenta are among the most desirable methods to obtain the mesenchymal cells used to treat human patients.

Charlotte Harding

With a rich career spanning over the period of decade, Charlotte Harding is an authority on the health benefits of plants and general wellness. She holds a BSc in Biological Sciences (Plant Science) from the University of Edinburgh and a Master's in Public Health from King's College London. She brings a unique blend of academic knowledge and real-world experience to the realm of plant-based health and wellness. Beyond her writing, Charlotte is a yoga enthusiast and a passionate advocate for sustainable living, often sharing her insights on eco-friendly lifestyle choices.

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