Banking stem cells is a relatively new option albeit an expensive one (always a catch!), but may be considered quite mainstream in the future (hopefully bringing the cost down). Stem cells have been used to treat many diseases already and have been used in thousands of medical procedures, too. Scientists are hoping stem cells that you bank now could be multiplied in a test tube later and used to treat diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injuries, heart failure, stroke, and many other conditions. All that from tiny little cells.
10 Stem Cell Facts & How Banking Them Can Help YouYou can familiarize yourself with some of the very basics of those stem cells below as well as learn how it might matter if you bank them for yourself and your family. Make sure to click on the many links to more in-depth information on this fascinating and potentially life saving process.
1. Stem cells are highly useful as they can become any kind of body cell. Stem cells for a baby growing in the womb create organs, nerves, blood and bone. After birth, these cells can be found in all kinds of tissue.
2. Stem cells can replicate themselves creating an almost endless supply.
3. If you choose to bank your stem cells, when treatments are available, your stem cells could be used rather than facing the issue of donor cell rejection (in the case of a transplant). The cells could possibly be healthier as well as they would have been collected from a younger, disease-free version of you.
4. Banking cord blood stem cells from new babies has been around for a while and many parents are choosing it for possible treatment for their children for certain forms of leukemia and problems concerning the immune system, joints and connective tissue.
Amniotic stem cell banks also exist working on the same premise as cord blood. Here is how that could help.
Tap here on How to Find A Private Cord Blood Bank.
5. You can even save your child's baby teeth, wisdom teeth, etc. not for a keepsake but for possible valuable stem cell use later in life.
Check this out for more thoughts on banking teeth.
6. Many parents decide to donate their child's cord blood to a public cord blood bank for free, which makes it available to anyone who needs it now as it could provide a match working much like the national bone marrow donation system.
Click here and here for more information on donation.
7. Some scientists think the younger you are when you bank your stem cells, the better. However, some think it really does not matter the age when you take a sample. See the section below on "Considerations for The Future" for more details on this.
8. Certain medical therapies make use of a stem cell's unique ability to transform into other cells for corneal transplants and even partially rebuild tracheas.
See a recent news clip on that here and, tap here for a recent case where stem cells helped a man heal after a cardiac arrest.
9. Stem cell medicine is still considered in its infancy. Making the right kind of cell remains challenging and so far only a few procedures are FDA-approved. It will be several years before a wide range of diseases can be treated with stem cells but the science is progressing.
10. Some experts questions if stem cell banking is worth the cost as the fees can cost hundreds of dollars per year and thousands of dollars over time.
Where You Can Bank Your Stem Cells NowIf you like this ideas of being ready for the future use of stem cells and are willing and able to pay for it, some companies in the United States are offering that choice. There are many companies that provide stem cell banking services, but here are some of the companies I came across that you may want to check out. Tap on the name to take you to the site.
The Procedure to Bank Your Stem CellsBanking your stem cells is not particularly complicated and some tissue samples can even be taken at a doctor's office. Here are the steps:
- Find the best stem cell bank for you and your situation.
- A physician usually takes a small square of skin, a blood sample, a piece of fat via liposuction or possibly bone marrow, too.
- The cells are sent to a facility where they are examined for any contamination or infection.
- If all tissues pass inspection, they are placed in cold storage at the bank you chose. When and if needed, the cells can be removed from cold storage, cultured and used for the proper therapy.
- The cells can be reintroduced into the body intravenously or injected into the location where they are most needed to assist in the healing.
Considerations For FutureAlthough banking your stems cells for the potential to cure you is an enticing prospect, it could prove unnecessary as advances in biotechnology are creating a possibility of turning any cell from the body, even your skin, into a stem cell. These stem cells are referred to as induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS).
Banking stems cells is expensive but the IPS process is even more expensive, hitting in the neighborhood of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ouch! Much like the stem cell banking hopefully decreasing in cost at some point, most likely so will the IPS costs as well.
Another interesting fact regarding IPS is that at this time, studies are showing IPS created from older people do well for their uses so perhaps extracting stem cells from only younger individuals only will not apply.
So, what do you think? Have you banked your children's' cord blood or donated it? Would you or have you considered banking your stem cells? Please jump in and add to the conversation.
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