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What to Consider Before Banking Stem Cells

Preserving stem cells can help treat future diseases, including cancer, immune disorders, & neurologic conditions. Here’s what to consider before banking.

Published by Anja Health on

August 15, 2022

— Updated on

August 15, 2022

Preserving stem cells can help treat future diseases, including cancer, immune disorders, and neurologic conditions. The decision to bank your stem cells is a personal one that should be made with careful consideration. When making your decision, it's essential to consider the risks and benefits of stem cell banking, as well as the potential uses of stem cells.

Stem cells can develop into other types of cells in the body. There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos, while adult stem cells are found in adults. Stem cells have the potential to be used to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer, immune disorders, and neurologic conditions.

There is a lot to know about stem cells, and the decision to bank your stem cells is not one to be made lightly. Ahead, some things to consider before you make your decision.

 

A brief overview of Stem Cell Banking

The basic idea behind stem cell banking is to preserve stem cells for future use. Preserving stem cells may be for several reasons, such as to treat a future illness or injury or to provide a source of stem cells for research. The process of banking stem cells generally involves collecting the cells from a donor, processing and storing them, and then making them available for use when needed. 

Various stem cells can be banked, including embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Each type of stem cell has its advantages and disadvantages, and the type most suitable for a particular application may vary depending on the specific situation.

Embryonic stem cells are the most versatile type of stem cell and can be used to generate any cell in the body. However, they are also the most controversial, as they are derived from human embryos, which raises ethical concerns. Adult stem cells are less versatile than embryonic stem cells, but they can be collected from adults without ethical problems. In addition, adult stem cells are often more readily available than embryonic stem cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells are a type of stem cell generated from adult cells. These cells can generate any kind of cell in the body, similar to embryonic stem cells. However, they do not raise the same ethical concerns as embryonic stem cells.

The decision of whether to bank stem cells is a personal one, and there are several factors to consider. Some people may choose to bank stem cells for themselves in case they need them in the future. Others may donate their stem cells to a public bank, where they can be used to help treat people with various conditions.

 

Public vs. private storage options

There are two main options for storing stem cells: public storage and private storage. Government agencies or non-profit organizations typically run public cord blood bank storage facilities, and they hold stem cells donated by members of the public. These cells are then made available to anyone who needs them, regardless of their financial situation. Private companies also run private storage facilities and store stem cells for a fee. These cells are typically only available to the people who have paid for them and are not typically made available to the public.

The main advantage of a public bank is that it is typically less expensive than private storage. In addition, public storage facilities are often more accessible, and they may have a larger selection of stem cell types available. The main disadvantage of public storage is that the individual does not own the cells, and they may not be available when needed.

The main advantage of a private bank is that the individual owns the cells, and they are more likely to be available when needed. The main disadvantage of private storage is that it is typically more expensive than public storage. In addition, private storage facilities may be less accessible, and they may have a smaller selection of stem cell types available.

 

Safe, high-tech equipment and facilities

Banks generally use high-tech equipment and facilities to ensure the safety of stem cells. The cells are typically stored in a controlled environment, such as a cryogenic chamber, where they can be preserved for long periods. In addition, the cells are typically monitored closely to ensure they remain healthy and viable.

It is important to note that not all stem cell banks are created equal. Some banks may be more reputable than others, and it is essential to do some research before choosing a particular bank. Several different accreditation organizations provide information about stem cell banks, and these organizations can be a good resource for finding a reputable bank.

Take a peek inside Anja Health's AABB-certified laboratory: 

 

Pricing

Treatment with stem cells can be expensive and is not typically covered by insurance. The cost of stem cell banking can range from a few thousand dollars to over $20,000. The price will vary depending on the type of stem cell being banked, the storage method, and the length of time the cells will be stored.

 

When considering stem cell banking, weighing the potential costs and benefits is critical. Stem cells have the potential to treat a wide variety of conditions. It is important to speak with your health care provider to determine if stem cell banking is right for you.

 

What to store

The decision of what type of stem cell to store will also vary depending on the situation. For example, some people may store stem cells from a specific tissue type, such as stem cells from cord blood, in case they need them in the future. Others may store stem cells from different tissue types in case they need them for various applications.

Historically, hematopoietic stem cells have only been available from bone marrow transplants and peripheral blood transplants. However, as cord blood collection, processing, and storage technology have advanced over the last thirty years, it is now superior to bone marrow and peripheral blood as a source of stem cells.

The stem cells found in your baby's umbilical cord and/or placenta are less likely than cells from bone marrow to cause complications following transplant. They also outperform bone marrow in their ability to replace damaged cells.

 

Cord blood

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth. It contains stem cells, which can be used to treat several different diseases and disorders. Cord blood stem cells are similar to other types of stem cells, such as those from bone marrow or fat.

Cord blood stem cells can treat several blood disorders, such as leukemia and lymphoma. They are also being studied as a treatment for other conditions, such as diabetesParkinson's disease, and spinal cord injury.

 

Cord tissue

Cord tissue is the tissue that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth. It contains some different types of cells, including stem cells. Cord tissue stem cells are currently being studied as a potential treatment for several diseases and disorders, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and spinal cord injury.

 

Placenta

The placenta is an organ that develops during pregnancy and provides nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby. The placenta also contains several different types of cells, including stem cells. Placental stem cells are currently being studied as a potential treatment for some other diseases. There is evidence that placental stem cells may be more effective than cord blood stem cells in treating certain blood disorders.

Placenta-derived stem cells have also been used to treat several other conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral palsy.

 

The collection process

The process of stem cell banking generally involves four steps: collection, processing, storage, and retrieval.

1. Collection: The first step in stem cell banking is to collect the cells from a donor. This can be done through various methods, such as bone marrow aspiration, peripheral blood stem cell collection, or cord blood collection.

2. Processing: Once the cells have been collected, they must be processed to prepare them for storage. This generally involves a cryopreservation process, in which the cells are frozen to preserve them.

3. Storage: The processed cells are then frozen in a cryogenic container, where they can be preserved for many years.

4. Retrieval: When the cells are needed, they can be thawed and used for various purposes.

 

Explore your options with Anja Health

Knowing all your options helps to decide on cord blood and cord tissue banking. That's why many choose to work with Anja Health. We provide unbiased information about cord blood and cord tissue banking so that you can make the best decision for your family.

We invite you to contact us if you have any questions about cord blood or cord tissue banking. Stem cell banking is a complex health decision; we're here to help you navigate the process. The Anja Health team includes cord blood banking experts who can answer all your questions and help you make choices that could save lives. 

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