Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pro Athletes Saving The Placenta

A report I found at Dubai's 7DAYS (via Wired's biotech blog) describes a bizarre new trend where pro soccer players are saving tissue from their newborn's placenta. So far, "eight premiership players in the past year are said to have frozen the stem cells taken from the umbilical cord blood of their newborn," reads the story. Why? The potential use of umbilical cord blood cells for creating new cartilage or ligaments, of course.

Say you're an aging soccer pro and you're knees have gone bad because the cartilage has worn down. They ache and burn, and it's getting harder to keep up with the young bucks in the league. Well, if you've saved your kid's cord blood cells, and the procedure is perfected by researchers, they can grow new cartilage for you from those cells. According to the report, the new tissue, "exactly matches a person’s own, thereby offering opportunities to replace bad cells and reduce the risk of rejection in the event of a transplant."

For the newborn, their future health may be secure as the cord blood cells, "could help rebuild organs, muscles and other damaged tissue if his child needs treatment for a life-threatening illnesses."

11,000 UK parents have already taken the expensive step of banking their children's cord blood cells, reports 7DAYS. But it's still a gamble as the use of cord blood cells for curing ailments, "may be a long way off."

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