Blood from umbilical cords could be the key to giving scientists a better understanding of how various toxic materials affect human development, according to researchers from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
In “Cord Blood Cells for Developmental Toxicology and Environmental Health,” published in Frontiers in Public Health, the researchers stated that cord blood could be a powerful tool in studying how environmental hazards affect human fetuses on a cellular level. Cord blood contains stem cells, which are building block cells that can differentiate to become specific kinds of cells in the body, and progenitor cells, which have characteristics of both stem cells and specific kinds of cells like endothelium (which line blood vessels) for example.
Currently, developmental toxicology studies depend largely on studies using animals, which are not always accurately representative of humans.
“Use of cord blood cells allows for direct toxicological testing in the most vulnerable human populations,” overcoming the limitations associated with traditional methods of testing, the paper stated.
Public health agencies and professionals use developmental toxicology information to make decisions regarding safe levels of exposure to materials such as drugs, pesticides and industrial chemicals.
The paper’s lead author is Dr. Dora Il’yasova, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Public Health. Authors also included Ms. Noreen Kloc, a graduate student at the School, and Dr. Alexander Kinev, founder and CEO of Creative Scientist.