Stem cells: did you know that there is a strong compatibility between siblings?

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells capable of generating the different cell types that make up the adult individual. Due to their differentiation capacities, stem cells are of great interest in various medical fields. What also makes them very interesting is their greater histocompatibility, which means that this type of cell can often be used within the family. In fact, the probability of finding a compatible donor outside the family nucleus is 0.001% (1 in 100,000 individuals). Between siblings, on the other hand, there is a 25% (1 in 4) probability of compatibility.

This means that if you have stored your baby’s stem cells with us at SSCS, who have a FACT-NetCord accredited laboratory (the specific accreditation for the storage of umbilical cord blood and tissue and the only one that allows the sample to be used in any transplant centre in the world should it be needed), there is a strong probability that they will be compatible with siblings.

Learn more about the world of stem cells

Salvador’s story: using stem cells to treat autism

Salvador, a five-year-old Portuguese boy who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, recently underwent treatment using stem cells from his own umbilical cord blood with the aim of improving his condition. The procedure was carried out in August 2022, at Duke University Hospital, in the United States of America (USA), within the scope of the Expanded Access Protocol (EAP) led by Prof. Joanne Kurtzberg, internationally renowned pioneer in the use of umbilical cord blood. It is estimated that, in Portugal, 1 in 1000 children of school age lives with autism spectrum disorder1. (Editor’s Note: At the end of 2022 the Expanded Access program stopped enrolling children with autism.)

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Third person ‘cured’ of HIV after receiving stem cell cancer treatment

A 53-year-old man in Düsseldorf, Germany, has been declared cured of HIV by doctors after a blood stem cell transplant to treat leukaemia – the third case of this kind.

The man has no signs of active infection four years after he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs. “We don’t think there’s a functional virus present,” says Björn Jensen at Düsseldorf University Hospital.

The “Düsseldorf patient” tested positive for HIV in 2008. In 2011, he developed leukaemia that was treated with chemotherapy, but it came back the following year. So, in 2013, the blood stem cells in the man’s bone marrow that give rise to immune cells – including the cancerous ones – were killed off by chemotherapy and then replaced with donor blood stem cells.

Crucially, doctors found a donor with a mutation that disables the CCR5 receptor that HIV uses to infect immune cells.

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Umbilical cord: bank it with Nescens

Until a few years ago, babies’ umbilical cord was simply thrown away as waste. Today families have the opportunity to bank the umbilical cord and preserve a very valuable resource for the medicine of the future

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