Mesenchymal Stem Cells May Unlock New Treatments

MSC ResearchThe different types of stem cells contained within cord blood are currently used to treat nearly 80 diseases. Scientists hope that with more research, this list will continue to grow. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are drawn from umbilical cord tissue, may be one key in the efforts to treat more diseases and disorders.

MSCs provide new hope to patients with debilitating diseases
Patients with liver fibrosis, lung cancer, Parkinson’s and other complex diseases have limited treatment options today, so opening new avenues for treatment is important. The unique ability MSCs have to repair damaged cartilage, muscle and tissue suggests their potential in medical applications. As a result, a significant amount of research is underway to better understand this potential. Below are findings from some of the pre-clinical studies using MSCs extracted from cord tissue:

  • Liver Fibrosis: When the liver sustains an injury, it undergoes a scarring process called fibrosis. Too much scar tissue can disrupt liver function and blood flow.1 Researchers have studied the effect of MSCs on rats with induced liver fibrosis and found that the stem cells may promote liver function and regeneration.2
  • Lung Cancer: More people die from lung cancer in the United States than any other type of cancer.3 MSCs may play an important part in treating this deadly disease; scientists have discovered that these stem cells work to stop the growth of lung tumors.4
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Brought to the public eye by actor Michael J. Fox, this brain disorder causes shaking, difficulty with movement and coordination and other debilitating symptoms.5 A study using MSCs showed there was no progression of the disease in rats that received the transplanted cells as compare to the rats that did not receive the transplanted cells.The results suggest that human umbilical Mesenchymal Stem Cells have the potential to treat Parkinson’s disease.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: 1.3 million Americans are affected by this autoimmune disease that causes pain and inflammation in joints throughout the body.7 MSCs transplanted into immune cells collected from RA patients were shown to suppress inflammation and the disease. Transfusing MSCs into rats showed a significant reduction in the severity of the arthritis.8
  • Sports Injuries (Cartilage): Sports can take a toll on the body and lead to debilitating injuries. A 2009 study shows that MSCs can be used to engineer certain types of cartilage9—offering a potentially new treatment for athletes.
  • Type I Diabetes and Stroke: Umbilical cord blood stem cells are already being used in studies for Type I diabetes and stroke recovery. And now MSCs may give patients new options. Research has shown that the stem cells may help manage Type I diabetes10 and repair cells that are damaged in patients who’ve experienced a stroke.11  

These studies represent only a handful out of the over 55 studies that have used MSCs extracted from cord tissue – all of them prior to cryopreservation.12 It’s appears Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are emerging as the next generation of discovery in stem cell research and here at ViaCord, we’re very excited about that. We have so much more to learn about these valuable stem cells, just as we did about cord blood stem cells 20 years ago.  And you can count on us to keep you up to date and the latest advancements with MSCs.


IMPORTANT NOTE: All research using cord tissue stem cells is in pre-clinical studies.
Medical treatments using family banked cord tissue are not available today; there is
no guarantee that therapies will be developed in the future.






  1. Siemens. “What is liver fibrosis?”
  2. “The therapeutic potential of human umbilical mesenchymal stem cells
    from Wharton’s jelly in the treatment of rat liver fibrosis.”
  3. CDC. “Lung Cancer Statistics.”
  4. Oxford Journals. “Inhibition of lung cancer cell proliferation mediated by human
    mesenchymal stem cells.”
  5. “Parkinson’s disease.”
  6. “Conversion of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in Wharton’s
    jelly to dopaminergic neurons in vitro: potential therapeutic application for Parkinsonism.”
  7. Arthritis Foundation. “What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?”
  8. Science Daily. “Umbilical Cord Cells May Treat Arthritis, Studies Suggest.”
  9. “A comparison of human bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells
    and human umbilical cord–derived mesenchymal stromal cells for cartilage tissue engineering.”
  10. American Diabetes Association. “Why MSCs?”
  11. Discovery Medicine. “The Potential of Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Neural Repair.”
  12. Data on file. PerkinElmer, Inc.  †As of February 22, 2011.

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