Non-embryonic stem cells can be harvested from various sources including bone marrow, adipose tissue, blood, amniotic fluid and birth tissue (such as umbilical cord and placenta). Among these, birth tissue-derived cell products offer many advantages, including abundance of stem cells, youthfulness of cells with higher metabolic activities, richness of cytokines and growth factors, easy harvesting, lack of need for HLA matching, excellent safety record, superior ability for replication and differentiation, higher anti-inflammatory and robust angiogenic potentials.
Although autologous stem cell transplantation (using a person’s own stem cells) is currently the most utilized form of stem cell therapy, as it avoids the risk of graft vs. host immune response, this method has significant drawbacks in the aging and chronically ill populations. Besides requiring invasive procedures to harvest the cells, in the older and chronically ill population, both the number and quality of stem cells have declined, limiting their regenerative capabilities.
Even among the young and healthy adult population, stem cells obtained from a person’s bone marrow or adipose tissue still produce less cytokines/growth factors, with lower anti-inflammatory potentials, lower rate of growth & differentiation, shorter telomeres (end sequences that protects the chromosomes), more rapid cellular aging, and less remaining generations of offsprings, when compared to the stem cells of birth tissue origin.