1. Collection of cord blood
The collection of cord blood is performed by the obstetrician immediately after the cord has been clamped and cut. Proper collection of the blood is very important for the process and storage of stem cells.
The procedure of the collection is simple, lasts about 5 minutes and is safe for both the child and the mother, since it is performed after the birth. The expecting parents must be supplied with Biohellenikas collection kit on time. This should be kept in perfect condition until the day of birth when the parents will give it to their obstetrician. The kit consists of an isothermal container with temperature registration in order to keep the cord blood at stable temperature.
The blood that has remained in the placenta after birth is collected in a special sterilized bag which is part of the collection kit and is delivered to Biohellenikas labs, where isolation, quality controls and cryopreservation of the stem cells are performed. The stem cells collection varies from child to child, so it is absolutely necessary to try to collect the greatest amount of cord blood. In case of a twin pregnancy the volume that is collected from each child is generally smaller, but this fact doest cause any problem to their further use. All facts until today show that the age and the nationality of the mother, the weight that the mother gained during pregnancy and the gender of the child play no role in the successful collection of the umbilical cord blood. The only factor that seems to lead to the collection of greater volume is the weight of the child at birth and the completion of the pregnancy time. Usually the greater the volume of the blood collected, the greater the final number of the cryopreserved stem cells. Despite this, the specialized isolation method Biohellenika uses, can process smaller volume samples, so the final acceptance criteria is the stem cells amount in the sample and not the initial volume of the sample.
Biohellenika, exhausting all the possibilities that are provided during the birth of the child for the collection of the greatest number of stem cells, apart from the classical method for collection with the puncture of the umbilical cord, proceeds also to the drainage of the placenta.
This method allows the collection of the cells that have remained in the interior of the placenta after the classical collection process. For this reason the whole placenta is transferred under special sterile conditions to the lab for the stem cells isolation. Placenta has an extensive network of blood vessels where a great number of stem cells is trapped which will be discarded unless the second collection takes place . With the special method published from the scientific team of Biohellenika, all these cells are collected and added to the first classical stem cell collection. Finally, this method can assure cumulatively up to twice the number of the stem cells that would otherwise be thrown away if the second collection was not performed.
The larger amount of stem cells is critical as we have the ability to use the sample more times and also to treat leukemia to an overweight adult as we have 2 grafts. Thus the greater amount of stem cells cryopreserved, the more assured is the child, and its family.
This special method of collection of stem cells from the interior of the placenta was awarded a prize in the 15th Panhellenic Conference of Transplantation in Thessaloniki in December 2007 and was referred for one week on February 2008 in the internet as the most interesting medical publication in the international medical press and was published in Transfusion vol 51,No.5, page 976-985, MAY 2011
3.VSELs (Very Small Embryonic Like Stem Cells)
They are collected from the remnants of cord blood after hematopoietic collection in two stages. Because of their small size they easily were missing between the red blood cells. These cells are more promitive and they have the ability to create oocytes, sperm cells, hematopoietic cells and other types and they are promising in regenerative medicine. Many companies in order to keep these cells, claimed that store the whole blood. Biohellenika separate them and store as an independent collection.
4. Whartons Jelly
Lately it has been discovered that the tissue of the umbilical cord (Whartons jelly) has stem cells that can be transformed into other cell types. These cells are mesenchymal type stem cells and are located on the tissue around the vessels of the umbilical cord. The mesenchymal cells are special cells that are collected with a specific method that isolates them from the rest cells of the cord.
Biohellenika has patented an updated technological know-how and is able to offer the banking of mesenchymal stem cells from the total length of the umbilical cord. Following this method the total amount of stem cells is isolated, therefore a future cell proliferation, which would alter the biological quality of the stem cells and would have an additional cost for the parents, wont be necessary. Cell proliferation is not desirable for any stem cells type, either hematopoietic or mesenchymal. International guidelines impose the minimum interventions to the cells as cell proliferation leads to the creation of less primitive cells. The special method Biohellenika follows differs from the cryopreservation of whole segments of the umbilical cord. The cryopreservation of the cord segments without prior cell isolation, a method which is probably used by several banks, is rather short in time but specialized know-how isnt needed, the necessary number of stem cells for a future use isnt known and most importantly, the stem cells viability after the defrost of the segments cant be predicted. In the future in order to use such a sample, it will have to be proliferated after the post thaw.
Whartons jelly is the embryonic connective tissue that surrounds the blood vessels of the umbilical cord and is the only remnant of embryonic tissue in the newborn. This type of tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells that can not be collected with the classical method nor with the drainage of the placenta. These stem cells are collected from the total length of the umbilical cord, that is cut from the obstetrician and comes to the laboratory in a special sterile package. The cells are separated through enzymatic digestion, cryopreserved and stored in two cryovials for at least the next 20 years.
Today the stem cells from this source have been differentiated in neural cells, osteocytes, chondrocytes, adipocytes, cardiomyocytes and skeletal myocytes and for this reason the cells are expected to be used in regenerative medicine. Their most important use however is the regulation effect on the immune system that leads to the reduction of allogeneic hematopoietic transplants (not fully matched) rejection for the leukemia and malignancies treatment. Their simultaneous administration with not fully matched haematopoietic transplants increase the percentage of hematopoietic cells implantation and decrease their rejection.
This process added to the classical collection of cord blood with the puncture of the cord vessels and the drainage of the placenta, offers the family the total amount of the hemapoietic and mesenchymal stem cells that can be collected at birth. Given that stem cells from the placenta and the umblilical cord blood are superior in quality compared to the any other source, the services that Biohellenika offers, assure maximum possible amount and superior quality of stem cells at birth.
Therefore, Biohellenika assures four independent stem cells collections. Also, Biohellenika doesnt consider the cost in order to offer the best complete medical and scientific service.
By collecting stem cells at birth from all these three sources, we assure treatment of hematological diseases and applications of regenerative medicine even to overweight patients that under different conditions would not have sufficient number of stem cells for their treatment.