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When Should You Bank Your Stem Cells

Acorn Biolabs team author
Acorn Biolabs

Your own live cells are the single most valuable resource for future medical treatment. Thanks to the advances in the field of regenerative medicine, scientists now have the tools to use them to theoretically treat any disease imaginable. One thing to keep in mind is that the sooner you bank your cells, and shield them from aging, the greater their therapeutic potential will be.

While it is certainly exciting, trying to stay up to date with the constant advancements of science and technology can be overwhelming. There is just too much information out there. To make matters worse, the language researchers use while publishing their findings in scientific journals, can be unintelligible.

Fortunately, you don’t need an MD or PhD to know that we are on the brink of a medical revolution. You may have heard about regenerative medicine. It is a field of study concerned with the reengineering of human cells to form tissues and organs. Its goal is to develop treatments for an endless variety of medical conditions. This field is expanding at a rapid pace. It has the potential to completely transform our approach to health and medicine in general.

The future of medicine will be cell-based

At the center of this revolution is the ability to take a sample of a person’s cells and transform them into whatever tissue or organ a patient requires for treatment. For a long time, sourcing these cells proved to be a difficult task. Researchers could not simply take any cell in the body since, by the time they have matured, cells become differentiated and specialized. Only stem cells retain their potential to become any type of cell required.

There are a few viable methods of stem cell extraction, including bone marrow harvesting and liposuction. However, they are inconvenient, expensive, and painful for the patient. In addition, these types of stem cells were multipotent, but could not become any and every cell in the body. Thankfully, researchers John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka discovered a way to program mature cells to become pluripotent —they received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012 for this discovery. What this means is that scientists can now take adult cells and make them behave like stem cells. This process restores their transformative potential. To learn how cells are reprogrammed read our blog: Have you ever wondered how iPSCs are made in the lab?

Based on this finding, researchers at Acorn concluded that hair follicles are an effective source of cells for banking. They are therapeutically-capable and can be grown consistently in the lab. Their extraction is simple, convenient, affordable, non-invasive, and painless. You can either head to Acorn’s lab headquarters in Downtown Toronto to provide a sample or do it in the comfort of your home. If you order a live cell collection kit, all you have to do is pluck your own hairs, follow the instructions in the box and ship it back to Acorn for processing.

The right time to bank your cells

There is something to keep in mind if you are considering banking your cells: time is of the essence. As we age, our cells deteriorate. This means that their ability to function and perform their jobs slowly diminishes. The result is that they lose some of their therapeutic potential. Your cells at 20 years old are much better than at 50 —likewise, they are much better at 50 than at 80.

Should I bank my cells if I am over 50? Yes, absolutely. They are in a much better state now than they will be in the future. If you decided to bank them today and were to need them at 60, you will have shielded them from 10 years worth of damage. This is because at -190°C, cellular metabolism, and with it the aging process, stops. The best timepoint to bank your cells is today, regardless of age.

Take advantage of the information contained in your cells

What if I never require a procedure that involves stem cells? You will still benefit from next-generation analytics. Most people are familiar with DNA home testing kits. These tests capture dead cells from saliva that are unusable in cell therapy but can reveal ancestry. This is just one of the many layers of information contained within your cells. The other layers are only accessible through live cell collection. That is what Acorn offers.

Our DNA does not normally change, but there are many layers of information in our cells, including epigenetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics that are changing throughout our lives. Having a sample taken today allows you to plot the difference in these layers over time as new analytical tests become available. This can help predict what diseases you may face later in life. Equipped with this knowledge, you can modify your behavior and adopt healthier habits. This would help to increase your healthspan for as long as possible.

In the future, you will even have the possibility to have faulty genetic code edited out with tools like CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). This mechanism is essentially ‘cut and paste’ for the human genome.

Thanks to a multitude of therapies currently in development, it will be possible to eradicate a latent disease long before the first symptoms appear. That is the promise of regenerative medicine and genetic engineering.

The bottom line is this: the sooner you take action and have your live cells cryopreserved, the better prepared you will be to take advantage of the revolution of regenerative medicine that is coming. It is the ultimate investment.