New technology to transform blood and stem cell collection

A new cord blood processing technology, Toticyte, developed by the UK’s leading blood cord bank, Cells4life, has been launched to midwives and healthcare professionals. TotiCyte enables cord blood banks to take as little as 10mls from the residual blood left in the placenta after delayed and optimal cord clamping and delivers 3 times more stem cells at the point of treatment than any other method.

Amanda Burleigh, founder of “wait for white” said, “This transformational new technology could mean the end of private or public blood banks taking as much as 30-40% of a new-borns’ blood. Instead we can now get enough stem cells to be therapeutically useful from 10-20ml of truly waste cord blood which is the amount that is left in the placenta after the cord has stopped pulsating and turned white.”

Delayed and optimal cord clamping, carried out after 3-5minutes after birth or when the cord has ‘collapsed’ and tuned white, has been shown to have many positive benefits on baby. Research from those babies who have experience optimal cord clamping shows impressive results, including: a weight gain of up to 214g within the first five minutes following birth, increased iron stores, less chance of anaemia and a higher ratio of blood and stem cells all of which promote a stronger immune system1.  

However, worryingly recent statistics from the Positive Birth Movement show parents don’t seem to be getting enough information about the significance of cord clamping – so much so that 40%2 of babies born in the UK are not having their cords clamped in accordance with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. And alarmingly, many parents (some 22,000)3 have donated ‘cord blood’ to public cord blood banks believing that this blood is just a waste product that may benefit someone else – not for a moment realising that the person it could benefit the most is their own child.

The rationale behind collecting blood from the umbilical cord is that it is a very rich source of stem cells and other cell types, that have huge potential for use in therapies.  For example, cord blood contains Haematopoietic stem cells, which can transform into any type of blood cell, so they are used in stem cell treatments for various blood cancers and disorders including; leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Umbilical cord blood is also being used in promising clinical trials to treat cerebral palsy, stroke and autism in the US.  To date, stem cell therapy is recognised as a treatment in over 80 diseases and it is expected to be one of the cornerstones of regenerative medicine.

Wayne Channon, chairman at Cells4Life, comments; “TotiCyte has been developed to maximise cell count both pre-freeze, and especially post-thaw. It provides 3 times more cells in treatment than any other method that we have tested, which covers all systems currently used in the UK. Critically, using TotiCyte means that your baby’s sample will be useful throughout their whole life, not just in childhood, and could even be used for multiple therapies. Clearly, the more cells stored, the more treatments that can be done. All parents have the right to know about this exciting opportunity and about delayed and optimal cord clamping, so that they can make an informed choice.

Cass McNamara, Midwife and the Founder of MaMa Conference comments; “As healthcare professionals we need to make parents clear on the benefits of delayed and optimal cord clamping.  They need to be given accurate, balanced and honest information. Stem cell use is not going to go away because regenerative medicine using stem cells is the future and stem cell treatments will only increase.  So, let’s support ways to get stem cells without risking babies’ health at birth by clamping too early or taking too much blood, methods like TotiCyte.

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