Umbilical cord blood is an extremely valuable biological material that saves lives. Nevertheless, not all future parents and even healthcare workers know about the value of umbilical cord blood and the possibility of its storage.

World-wide, July is recognised as Cord Blood Awareness Month, and Plymouth-based Biovault, which is located in the International Medical and Technology Park, is hoping more expectant parents will become aware of the life saving properties of their baby’s umbilical cord blood.

The company’s Chief executive officer Kate Sneddon explained: “Stem cells and the future medical possibilities associated with their use quite rightly generate a buzz in the press and interest from the wider public, but despite this the banking of stem cells from a child’s umbilical cord is still relatively low in the UK when compared to other countries across the world. Generating awareness and understanding of the services we offer is a continual challenge, and we invest many resources in raising awareness.”

Biovault is the largest private stem cell and tissue bank in the UK and the only one to work with the NHS in providing human tissue and cells for transplantation.

It has been at the forefront of the rapidly developing field of human tissue processing and cryogenic storage for almost 20 years, an area of science that has seen a massive spike in demand as doctors and scientists alike find ever more life-changing medical applications for human tissue.

During July it is joining public organisations whose campaigns are helping to raise awareness of the medical significance of umbilical cord blood, highlighting the many successful cases of treatment with cord blood stem cells.

Umbilical cord blood contains a diverse mixture of important cells, including stem cells which have the ability to create and heal our organs, blood and the immune system. It is similar to bone marrow, and can be used in the treatment of diseases including leukemias and lymphomas, congenital metabolic diseases, genetically mediated immunodeficiencies, thalassemias, autoimmune diseases, and many others. Biovault specialises in the processing and storage of stem cells for treatment of blood cancers, and childhood conditions such as autism and cerebral palsy.

Mrs Sneddon added: “It is an incredibly exciting time to be in the field of stem cells, cellular therapies and regenerative medicine as we are now on the cusp of many new possibilities for the use of these precious cells and we continue to work hard to be at the forefront of this.”

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