Adult Stem Cell Preservation
Ask any new parent who has stored cord blood and they will be able to tell you all about storing their newborn’s umbilical cord blood for use in the future. What happens though for people who do not have children or whose children were born before this potential life saving alternative was first offered? There are storage banks that offer to preserve adult stem cells as well as umbical cord stem cells.
Stem cells are classified by four types of cells. First, embryonic stem cells are from a human embryo. Second, fetal stem which can be taken from aborted fetal tissue. Use of both of these stem cells is very controversial, especially the embryonic stem cells. Studies are constantly under way to see if this use is safe for the embryo. The two more common and less riskier stem cells are third, umbilical stem cells, which are taken from the umbilical cord and the placenta, and, fourth, adult stem cells which come from bone marrow, adult peripheral blood and other body tissues.
So what are adult stem cells? In theory all stem cells except those that come from embryos are adult stem cells. This includes the cells found in the umbilical cord and placenta. The difference between stem cells that come from adult peripheral blood and bone marrow vs. umbilical cord and placenta stem cells is that the latter of the two come from newborns.
So how are adult stem cells collected? Most people know that stem cells come from bone marrow but most companies who collect and preserve adult stem cells take them from adult peripheral blood. This collection procedure is no different than taking blood for a blood test. In the past, a process called aphaeresis procedure was used. This process required the artificial stimulation of stem cell production by the donor’s bone marrow by employing injections of growth stimulating hormones several days prior to the collection. This method can be very costly and have some very unpleasant side effect for some donors.
As with umbilical cord stem cells, the preservation of adult stem cells also has a cost running around $1600 or more, and in addition, there is an annual storage fee. What the initial price generally does include is the enrollment fee, cord blood collection kit, specimen collection, express shipping, processing, testing and cryopreservation. The storage of the cells will cost around $125 or more and as with the major cord blood banks there are payment plans available.
By storing adult stem cells, everyone now has an opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones.