Get excited about cord blood!

While the world of cord blood can be a little overwhelming at times, it’s also super exciting! Cord blood stem cells have been used in medicine for a little over twenty-five years, and great scientific minds continue to probe for new possibilities using these amazing cells.

At ViaCord, we’re lucky (and super proud) to have one of those great scientific minds work with us every day.  Not only is Morey Kraus the Chief Scientific Officer of ViaCord, but he is also a stem cell biologist and a chemical engineer by training.  Yep, he’s pretty much the best.

His passion for cord blood stem cells and excitement about potential future medical applications is contagious and you’re about to find out for yourself.  We recently sat down with Morey for a quick chat to talk all things cord blood. Read on to hear what he had to say.

 So, Morey,to start off, can you tell us how long you have been involved in cord blood stem cell science/medicine?

“It’s humbling to say, but it’s been almost 20 years now.”

Having been involved in stem cells for all this time, you must have seen some amazing advancements.

“Most definitely.  The first cord blood stem cell transplant was performed in France in 1988 for a child with Fanconi’s anemia.  Since then the use of cord blood has grown considerably in the last 25 years – used now in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases – from cancers (like AML) to blood diseases (like Sickle Cell Anemia) to Bone Marrow failures  (like Aplastic Anemia). 2  To date, over 30,000 cord blood transplants have been performed and more than half of all cord blood transplants have taken place in the last 5 years. 2,4

To put it in perspective, a little over 10 short years ago, cord blood was used in only 1% of transplants. Today, cord blood is being used in 22% of all transplants. 3b

Also in the last few years, we’ve seen the emergence of cord blood stem cells being used in clinical research trials for Type 1 Diabetes, Cerebral Palsy and most recently Autism.84  This list will only continue to grow as research uncovers new uses for cord blood.”

That’s incredible Morey. Who doesn’t know a family that hasn’t been impacted by one of those conditions? Can you tell us more about these recent advancements?   

“This is a very exciting time for cord blood.  Over the last few years, doctors and researchers have focused on using cord blood stem cells to repair and regenerate damaged areas in a patient.  This type of application is known as regenerative medicine.  Today, regenerative medicine applications generally require a child use his or her own stem cells.”

If cord blood proves to be effective in the treatment of Cerebral Palsy or Autism it will be a real game changer.” 

Autism, wow.  That is certainly a hot topic in today’s world. 

“It is. In May 2014 the Centers for Disease Control reported that 1 in 68 children are identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder – and in boys it’s 1 in 42.” 101  The Autism study is in very early stages, however, as a scientist and a parent it is incredibly fulfilling to see ViaCord’s mission come to life.”

 So you must be thrilled that ViaCord is involved with the Autism trial!

“We are so pleased to collaborate with Duke University Medical Center and to align our efforts with the experts at a leading medical research center.  It’s very rewarding to be a part of helping to advance stem cell medicine.

And it’s even more rewarding to go to work every day for these families.  That is why we do what we do every day – it’s about the families.”




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