“Stemness” is a characteristic of cells. Many cells have some degree of stemness, meaning they have the ability to self replicate and under the right conditions differentiate into mature cells that have specialized functions, such as heart cells, skin cells, or nerve cells. Stem cells can be found in most body tissues and are responsible for our endogenous regenerative capacity.
Umbilical cord tissue stem cells are neonatal and therefore epigenetically young. This confers the capacity for safe expansion to cell numbers compatible with cell therapy protocols. Besides, like placental cells, umbilical cord tissue cells belong to frontier tissues, between the fetus and the mother, naturally inducing immunotolerance, a very important property for acceptance by non-related recipients. Immunosuppression properties can also be very important for some applications like autoimmune diseases and inhibition of graft rejection. In addition, the collection of umbilical cords is safe, non-invasive, and devoid of ethical concerns.
No. There are at least three types:
1- Hematopoietic stem cells – these are the most commonly cryopreserved stem cells, usually for autologous applications. They derive from the umbilical cord blood and their application is restricted to blood-related disorders;
2- Lining stem cells – these are cells isolated from the lining amniotic membrane that are already committed to the epithelial lineage;
3- Mesenchymal stem cells isolated from the umbilical cord tissue stroma (or Wharton’s jelly). These cells are fibroblastoid in nature but with higher stemness, being able to differentiate into specialized cells from the three germ layers. This third type of cells is the basis for ECBio’s UCX® cellular products.
UCX® is an allogeneic product, meaning that cells in its composition are accepted by non-related recipients. Therefore, UCX® will be an off-the-shelf, ready-to-use, advanced therapy medicinal product. Nevertheless, cells from the umbilical cord tissue are still worthwhile being privately cryopreserved for future autologous or next-of-keen therapeutic applications requiring cell differentialtion into specialised cells.
Umbilical cords for UCX® production are generously donated from parents or care takers, upon signing an informed consent according to European and Portuguese Laws. ECBio receives anonimous coded donation samples from certified procurement centers without ever knowing the identity of donors or proceeding to any genetic analysis with the intent of diagnosis or prognosis. Umbilical cords are then processed according to ECBio’s patented technology designed for the preparation of the advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP). ECBio would like to gratefully acknowledge the more than 300 umbilical cord donations that up to now have made possible the long way to UCX® development.
The therapeutic activity of UCX® is transient but its effects are persistent. It occurs mostly through migration and homing to inflammatory sites and secretion of trophic factors that have activities of several natures: anti-inflammatory, immune attenuating, and pro-activating and recruiting surrounding cells. UCX® can also induce angiogenesis and attract other circulating endogenous stem/precursor cells involved in regenerative mechanisms.