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Is the personal banking of umbilical stem cells justified?

Author(s): Eilidh Stewart O'Connor

Journal: Scottish Universities Medical Journal
ISSN 2049-8454

Volume: Epub;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Medical Ethics | Hematopoietic stem cells

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are defined by their ability to repopulate all lineages of the blood system – they are multipotent with ten or eleven possible fates. They can self renew, which is important for maintaining a pool of stem cells that can continually renew the bodies blood cells, which have a finite life span – with red cells surviving for around 120 days, platelets for 7 days and granulocytes for 7 hours – leading to a high turnover rate. During fetal life there are multiple sites of hematopoiesis, but following birth – the bone marrow is the only site of new blood cell formation, so its continuing function is vital to life. Umbilical cord blood has a high concentration of hematopoietic stem cells. However, there is considerable debate about how we should store these cells. This article aims to provide some information about the area of HSC regenerative medicine and outline some of the core areas of ethical debate.
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