Stem cell storage FAQs
Top 5 most common stem cell storage questions
1. What is stem cell storage?
Stem cell storage means the collection and cryopreservation of stem cells in umbilical cord blood and tissue for future use in stem cell treatments or clinical trials. Storage can either be:
- private – for the exclusive use of the baby and their family
- public – available for use by anyone
2. What is the difference between storing cord blood and cord tissue?
Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of certain types of stem cell, including Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs), which are used to treat blood disorders, and Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), which are tissue forming cells with huge potential for use in regenerative therapies.
Umbilical cord tissue also contains MSCs. In addition, it is an important source of further stem cell types not found within the cord blood. These include perivascular and endothelial stem cells, which are being investigated at clinical trial stage for use in various therapies. By saving the stem cells from both cord blood and cord tissue, you give your child the best opportunities for treatment in the future.
3. Should I store stem cells for all of my children?
Any one of your children’s cord blood and tissue stem cells will have a 1 in 4 chance of being a perfect match for their siblings and a 3 in 4 chance of being a usable match, so they will be better protected than if you had not chosen stem cell storage at all. However, to guarantee a perfect stem cell match for all of your children, you should save the stem cells from each of their births.
4. What are the current uses for my baby’s stem cells and how could they be used in the future?
Storing your baby’s stem cells could give them access to a huge range of treatment opportunities, both today and in the future. Currently stem cells from cord blood are used routinely in over 85 different therapies to treat a range of blood and immune diseases including Leukaemia, Neuroblastoma, and Sickle Cell Anaemia.
Stem cells are also being investigated in thousands of clinical trials for use in regenerative medicine. One day it is expected that they could be part of the treatment for currently incurable conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, brain injury and many more.
5. How much does stem cell storage cost?
The price for saving your baby’s umbilical cord blood should start at around £1,500 plus a small annual fee. With Cells4Life, you can also choose to purchase additional services, such as storing your baby’s cord blood and tissue samples in multiple units, to make your baby’s stem cell package as comprehensive as possible. Visit our cord blood pricing page for more information.
About stem cell storage
1. What is cord blood?
Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after they are born. This blood is a rich source of young and powerful stem cells that can be saved and used in various therapies.
2. What is cord tissue?
Umbilical cord tissue is a section of the umbilical cord itself, which, like the cord blood, is also a valuable source of stem cells.
3. Why are my baby’s stem cells so special?
Having your baby’s own stem cells is important as they are their perfect match. This means that if your baby needs stem cells for regenerative medicine they have their own ready and waiting with no risk of rejection.
4. Who can use my baby’s stem cells?
By saving your baby’s stem cells, you also provide protection for other family members too. For example, they have a 1-in-4 chance of being a perfect match, and a 3-in-4 chance of being a useable match for their brothers and sisters, and may even be suitable for the parents as well.
5. How long can the stem cells be stored for?
Cord blood banking is a relatively new service, so we have only been able to thaw and prove the viability of stored samples for up to about 25 years of age. However, based on their experience with other types of cell storage, the scientific consensus is that your baby’s stem cells will be viable for storage indefinitely, ensuring that they are available when they need them most – in old age.
Treatments and clinical trials
1. What can stem cells be used for today?
Currently stem cells from cord blood are the routine treatment for over 85 different blood and immune diseases and cancers. Conditions such as leukaemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, anaemia and many more.
2. What could stem cells be used for in the future?
The potential uses for stem cells in therapy appear to be limitless. At present there are over 5,000 clinical trials investigating the application of stem cells to treat a range of common and often life-threatening conditions including Alzheimer’s, spinal damage, heart disease and diabetes. Saving your baby’s stem cells could help to protect them from these conditions and more throughout their life.
What costs are involved in storing cord blood?
1. What does stem cell storage cost?
Prices should start at around £1,500 for the basic cord blood service plus a small annual fee. With Cells4Life, you can choose to make your baby’s package more comprehensive with optional extras like cord tissue and stem cell insurance, giving your baby the best protection available.
You can also opt for our SecurePlus service and store cord blood, or cord blood and tissue, in multiple portions across two separate storage locations. This ensures the possibility of multiple treatments and extra protection in the unlikely event of a disaster.
2. When are the payments due?
Cells4Life charges a small deposit of just £195 prior to birth in order to provide your cord blood collection kit and set up the service. If you require a licensed third-party to collect your baby’s cells, the phlebotomy fee is also due before your baby is born. The remainder of the balance is not required until after the birth and once we have performed tests to confirm that the stem cells are viable and suitable for storage. If the viability of your baby’s sample falls below 70% we will give you the option to continue to store the cells, or destroy them and pay no further fees.
3. What payment plans are available?
We give you the option to spread the remaining balance after birth for any period up to 12 months for an administration fee of just £20 per month.
4. Is there any special pricing for multiple births?
We offer a 50% reduction on our cord blood and cord tissue stem cell storage services for each additional child of the same birth.
5. Is there any reduction if you have used Cells4Life to store your baby’s stem cells before?
If you have used our services to store stem cells for your other children, you will be entitled to a £150 reduction from your total balance.
1. How do I set up stem cell storage with Cells4Life?
To set up your baby’s cord blood banking, you simply need to complete and return your consent forms and pay a deposit of just £195. We will then provide you with your collection kit and assign your phlebotomist, so that everything is set up and ready to go on the big day.
2. What happens on the day?
When you go into labour, all you need to do is bring your collection kit with you to the hospital and contact your phlebotomist to let them know that your baby is on the way. They will wait until your baby arrives and the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, before performing the stem cell collection in a separate room using your collection kit. Once the sample has been collected, they will hand the kit back to your birthing partner who will just need to contact our 24/7 dedicated medical courier. Our courier will arrive in around 1-2 hours to collect the sample and bring it directly back to our laboratory. Within 12-24 hours your baby’s cord blood will be processed, tested and placed into long-term storage, ready and waiting for when your baby or your family need to use it.
3. What information will I receive about my baby’s stem cells?
Once your baby’s stem cells have been processed, we will contact you within two working days to let you know the results. This will include the volume of blood received, the viability of the cells and the maternal test results. After 7-14 days we will also provide you with the sterility testing results and once the remaining balance is paid, a certificate of storage.
4. How do I access the cells if they are needed?
To access the cells you simply need to complete our sample request form and provide us with permission to liaise with the treating physician. We will then arrange everything with your doctor, to ensure that the cells are shipped and prepared for the date of treatment.
5. What happens if I move to a different country?
We provide our service to clients all over the world and have experience in cord blood releases for treatments outside of the UK. If you move abroad we simply ask that you provide us with your updated contact details so that we can stay in touch, and the sample request process will work in exactly the same way as if you were based in the UK.
6. If I choose delayed cord clamping can I also have my cord blood collected?
Yes you can. Umbilical cord stem cell collection is possible whatever your birth plan and should never get in the way of what you want to do. A recent NHS study showed that delaying clamping for 1-2 minutes did not significantly impact on collection volume or TNC. If you opt to delay the clamping period beyond 2 minutes the cord blood may start to clot making collection more difficult. However, even if it is not possible to collect enough blood, we will almost certainly be able to collect stem cells from cord tissue.
Stem cell storage with Cells4Life
1. What is the difference between Cells and CellsPlus?
The number of cells in a sample is crucial, as it can mean the difference between only having enough to treat a small child and being able to treat an adult. CellsPlus provides 100%-400% more stem cells at the point of treatment than any other cord blood processing method that we had tested, which includes all the systems currently used in the UK – it is our gold standard and provides the best treatment opportunities available.
This Cells service is slightly more affordable than CellsPlus, and does not preserve as many stem cells, it is the next best system. Cells is also the method used by the NHS and is the most popular system in North America.
2. Can I use my baby’s stem cells multiple times?
Most cord blood banks store your baby’s cord blood as one unit, meaning that no matter how little of the sample is needed for treatment, the entire sample must be thawed for use. We can split your baby’s cord blood into multiple samples, meaning that we can thaw smaller amounts leaving the remainder in storage for additional therapies. This has already enabled one of our clients to receive multiple stem cell transfusions during their treatment for acquired brain injury.
3. Where will the stem cells be stored?
We store all of our clients’ samples at our UK facilities. You can opt to store your baby’s cord blood and tissue across two of our sites, giving you ultimate protection in the unlikely event of a problem at one of them.
4. What is the stem cell insurance service?
+PROTECT stem cell insurance is a medical expenses policy designed to partner cord blood banking. +PROTECT covers £250,000 worth of stem cell treatment related expenses including hospital fees, treatment costs, drugs, and doctor’s fees, as well as non-treatment cost such as travel and accommodation abroad. +PROTECT is also available with a cerebral palsy extension that pays out a lump sum of £50,000 in the event of a cerebral palsy diagnosis in the first 3 years of your baby’s life. This money could be used to enrol your child on the highly successful cerebral palsy trial, which is experiencing fantastic results using patients own cord blood stem cells to treat the condition.
About stem cells
1. What are stem cells?
Simply put, stem cells are the building blocks of life. They are capable of ‘specialising’ or ‘differentiating’ into almost any tissue type, and are responsible for renewing the body. When stem cells divide, they make more of themselves and other cell types. This proliferation is what makes transplantation effective.
2. Where do stem cells come from?
1 – Embryonic stem cells
Derived from embryos aged three-to-five days, this kind of stem cell is incredibly powerful. They are pluripotent, which means they are capable of becoming any and all possible tissue types. However, there are some ethical concerns with this stem cell source as the embryo is destroyed as a result.
2 – Adult stem cells
Stem cells exist throughout the human body but their number rapidly declines as we age. These cells can be taken from the brain, bone marrow, fat, blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, skin and liver.
3 – Perinatal stem cells
Umbilical cord blood, cord tissue and the placenta are the richest sources of perfectly matched stem cells that your baby will ever have access to. They are more naïve than adult stem cells, meaning that they are more powerful and they do not have the ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells.
There is also a newly discovered stem cell type…
Induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) were discovered in 2006 by Nobel Prize winners, Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon. These are skin or blood cells that have been reprogrammed back to an embryonic-like pluripotent state. They can propagate indefinitely, as well as give rise to all cell types in the body. Because of this, they hold enormous potential for regenerative medicine. The risk with IPSCs is that we do not yet know how they behave in the human body or whether they could result in cancers. They still require intensive testing to demonstrate safety.
3. Why are stem cells important?
When we are injured, sick or diseased, our cells are damaged or killed. Stem cells are the body’s own repair system. They replenish cells and help us to recover. Without them, the body would be unable to repair and would suffer considerable wear and tear. Sometimes our own stem cells need some extra help and can’t manage the whole repair on their own, which is why stem cell banking is so important.
4. What are stem cells currently used for?
Stem cells are currently used to treat more than 80 conditions worldwide.These are mainly blood disorders, such as leukaemia, anaemia and cancer of the bone marrow.
Some families have also chosen to take part in clinical trials, and several Cells4Life samples have been released for experimental treatments in the USA for brain injury, cerebral palsy, and autism. Stem cell therapy is also available in clinical trial for conditions such as MS, diabetes, stroke and many more.