FAQ

Collection

How can I prepare for my cell collection appointment?

What is a pluripotent stem cell?

With all the attention around privacy and data security today, how can I trust Acorn with my cells?

What is cryopreservation?

Is cryopreservation of human cells reliable?

Storage

What do you do with my cells when they arrive at your facility?

What does “viability” mean at Acorn?

Will my hair grow back after it is plucked?

What do you do with the data my cells give you after you process my sample?

How secure is the Acorn facility that stores my cryopreserved cells?

How is this different than storing just my digital DNA instead?

Where can I get more information?

Stem cells

What is a cell and why are they important?

What is a stem cell, and how is it different than a regular cell?

Multipotent vs Pluripotent? What’s the difference?

I thought stem cells were only in a newborn’s umbilical cord or in bone marrow?

Why do iPSC’s matter?

Why should my cells be collected and preserved at all - if my body regenerates them why can’t I just extract them when I need them?

How do I know there will be a use for my stored cells one day?

What is genetic analysis and genetic sequencing and how are they connected to cell banking?

Why do I keep hearing about stem cells in a negative way?

FAQ

Everything you need to know about Acorn’s cell preservation service. If you can’t find the answer to your question, please contact us and our team will get back to you.

General

What is cell banking?

Cell banking is the process of collecting and storing cells for future use in therapies and regenerative treatments. At Acorn, we non-invasively collect stem cells from your own hair follicles. The sample is then processed and analyzed at our lab to confirm viability. Once confirmed viable, we freeze the cells at -190°C, stopping their metabolism and the effects of aging.

What is cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation is the most widely accepted, medically-proven, method of safe long-term preservation of biological material. Tissue samples, specifically cells, are kept at very low temperatures to maintain their condition while frozen. The medical community has been relying on cryopreservation to preserve sperm cells and oocytes (eggs) for generations already; and umbilical cord blood banking also uses cryopreservation.

Acorn uses the same reliable processes. We also add our proprietary transport media when shipping the cells enabling lifelong cell preservation and viability. Cryopreservation can safely and reliably preserve cells indefinitely, which means you’ll be able to benefit from future medical innovation for years to come.

Is cryopreservation of human cells reliable?

Cryopreservation is the most widely accepted, medically-proven, method of safe long-term preservation of biological material. Tissue samples, specifically cells, are kept at very low temperatures to maintain their condition while frozen. The medical community has been relying on cryopreservation to preserve sperm cells and oocytes (eggs) for generations already; and umbilical cord blood banking also uses cryopreservation.

Acorn uses the same reliable processes. We also add our proprietary transport media when shipping the cells enabling lifelong cell preservation and viability. Cryopreservation can safely and reliably preserve cells indefinitely, which means you’ll be able to benefit from future medical innovation for years to come.

How is this different than DNA tests?

This is the default rich DNA tests provide insights into your genetic make up, which can reveal ancestry and important aspects about your health. DNA tests do not use live cells, therefore the sample collected in these tests can not be used in cell therapies. Acorn collects and preserves live cells that can be used in future regenerative treatments.

Why wouldn’t I use younger donor cells?

Banking your own cells means that you won’t have to worry about the adverse immune reactions that could come with using donor cells in the future. Immunosuppressants, which are taken by individuals post donor transplant to prevent the rejection of donor cells, are very expensive and can significantly increase the risks of infection and lead to many other complications, so they are unfeasible in most treatments (especially aesthetic ones).

How is this different than storing just my digital DNA instead?

Getting your DNA as a digital file is comparable to taking a picture of a person and not getting all the other information you might get from a live interaction with them. DNA alone doesn’t capture everything that your cells can uncover.

The live cells that Acorn collects through your hair follicles can be converted into iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells). iPSCs are stem cells that can become any type of cell in the human body. This is why they have the potential to be used in regenerative medicine and gene therapies. In addition, your follicle cells can also be leveraged as genetic sources of data to help you make better health decisions based on your genetic make-up. They can be used to analyze 100% of the full genome. In comparison, the DNA obtained from the cells of cheek swabs/saliva in current popular home collection kits is made up of dead cells. The services that use cheek swabs/saliva typically focus on less than 1% of a full genome. Also, cells collected in this way are not viable for use in medical therapy the way that live hair follicle cells could be used from Acorn’s non-invasive process.

What’s the optimal age to bank cells?

There is no specific cut-off date for when you can bank your cells. While no two people are the same, the average person reaches a peak cellular health in their 20s and then begins an arithmetic decline until their 60s, at which point the pace of aging begins to accelerate considerably. You’re never as young as you will be today, so for most patients, we recommend to bank as early as possible.

How it Works

What do you do with my cells when they arrive at your facility?

Once your hair follicles arrive at our facility, they are visually inspected, followed by contamination analysis. Then our technicians will analyze the follicles for viability. Once confirmed viable, the hair follicles are are then suspended in a liquid that helps protect the cells from ice crystal damage. They are placed in a scientifically controlled rate freezer which freezes them at a predetermined rate until they reach -150°C. Your hair follicles and the cells in them are then cryopreserved in vapour phase liquid nitrogen at -190°C in separate vials and stored in two separate cryotanks which creates redundancy of samples for your peace of mind and multiple future uses.

What if I have a failed sample?

If your sample does not meet the viability criteria, we will schedule a recollection appointment free of charge.

Will my hair grow back after it is plucked?

Yes, your hair will grow back after being plucked since pulling out the hair follicle doesn't stop hair growth. On average, most people have anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 hairs on their heads and naturally lose around 100 to 200 hairs per day that naturally grow back. Scalp hair grows in cycles - each hair follicle undergoes a growth stage that lasts anywhere from two to eight years, followed by a two-month resting stage where no growth occurs. At that point, the hair strand falls out and a new one begins to grow in its place. For a healthy person, this means between 80 and 90 percent of hair follicles are growing hair at one time, while the rest of the follicles are resting or shedding.

How can I prepare for my cell collection appointment?

Please allow for about 15 min per person for your session which includes time to process your collection and to set up your client account at Acorn. Starting in the month following your cell collection, and ongoing, you will be billed your monthly cell storage fee of $16 CAD.

Collecting a few plucked hairs from your head is very easy - most people say it feels like plucking an eyebrow. However, we always like to remind people that you need to have some hair on your head - even if only a small amount - for the cell collection session. So if you happen to be someone who shaves their head, you will need to grow just enough hair on a few areas of your head to allow for a set of tweezers to retrieve a few strands of hair. This can be as short as 0.5 cm in length or less and depending on how fast your hair grows this can be grown out fairly quickly. Please keep this in mind when you choose your cell collection date. Its also a good idea to come to your session with recently washed hair, to minimize the amount of hair product that you use, and to limit the hair accessories that you wear that day (elastics, clips, extensions etc...)

How can I access my cells once they are frozen?

When treatments that can benefit from your younger banked cells become available, Acorn will ensure they are ready and accessible for any approved treatment.

When will treatments become available?

Cell therapy is a rapidly emerging area of medicine. Almost every day there is a new medical development in the use of cells as therapeutic medicines. Skin tissues and other organs are already being grown today from cells, we believe that growing entire organs on demand is right around the corner. Stem cell treatments range from cosmetic uses (growing or rejuvenating new skin) to growing new, young complete tissues and organs. As time goes on and research advances, the list will become longer and longer with the potential to cure diseases we never could have imagined. Acorn’s deep-rooted biological science expertise tells us that cells are the therapeutic currency of tomorrow. In our lifetime our own cells will be the future of personalized healthcare. Banking your cells early means you’ll have access to your own younger cells to leverage once these therapies become available.

Security

How secure is the Acorn facility that stores my cryopreserved cells?

Your cells are stored in a world class facility with state of the art cryogenic storage containers that have vault-like security, 24-7 monitoring and back-up systems. Acorn has taken its lead from generations of umbilical cord banking, sperm banking and oocyte (egg) freezing protocols to ensure your cell storage meets the same stringent conditions. The facility is one of the most secure, safe and high-quality bio-repositories in the world. Experienced staff, dual redundant alarm and real-time temperature monitoring systems, video surveillance and high security access restrictions all ensures continuous security. We operate within ISO and cGTP standards for cell processing and storage.

With all the attention around privacy and data security today, how can I trust Acorn with my cells?

Acorn was built on two very important fundamental principles: transparency and consent. We will never share identifiable personal data from your cells to any party - either overtly or surreptitiously; and we will always ask you to opt-in and provide explicit consent to any health-related studies, research or data that could help you or help others that would require your identifiable personal data. Acorn believes strongly that the future of the global digital economy and the communities that thrive in it will be built on transparency and consent. You always need to be fully aware of what is being done with your data and you must always consent to its use. You can read more in our privacy policy and terms and conditions of service on our website (www.acorn.me).

What happens if Acorn was to cease operations?

Acorn is co-located with a research group that services other institutions in our facility. The research group has been in operation for over twenty years providing solutions for healthcare institutions as well as universities. If Acorn was to cease operations, the facility has committed to continuing to hold the samples for all Acorn clients, and aid in transportation to another facility if requested.

Payment

How much will it cost to use my cells?

Acorn charges a $250 retrieval fee. Treatment costs will vary based off the procedure and the provider.

How much does it cost to collect and bank my cells?

The collection procedure is currently available via our clinic partners in Canada and the one-time collection fee starts at $800 and varies by clinic. Your cells then remain in cryogenic storage for our current yearly fee of $190, and would be accessible in the future for applicable regenerative treatments. You can find a list of our clinic partners here: https://www.acorn.me/locations

If you are not located near our clinic partners, you can sign up for our waitlist to be notified as soon as Acorn is available in your area. Sign up here: https://www.acorn.me/

Your Cells

Why the Hair Follicle?

The average person has roughly 100,000 hair follicles on their head, and Acorn only requires 50 for a successful collection. This abundant cell source is also harvested non-invasively and contains cells, like keratinocytes, fibroblast and hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) that have the potential to help rejuvenate skin, regrow hair, repair tissues and even be leveraged in stem cell applications.

Why can’t I bank my blood instead?

Banking blood does not provide the same diverse cell sources as banking the hair follicle. The hair follicle, which is harvested non-invasively contains cells like keratinocytes, fibroblast and hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) that have the potential to help rejuvenate skin, regrow hair, repair tissues and even be leveraged in stem cell applications.

What cells are banked?

We bank the entire hair follicle. This means that the keratinocytes, fibroblast and hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) found in the hair follicle will all be preserved.