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January 23, 2023

Can Adults Bank Stem Cells?

What if we told you that babies are not the only ones with stem cells and that this powerful cell type also exists in adults? This article will help you identify various stem cell sources, evaluate stem cell usefulness, explore harvesting and storage methods, and illustrate how they could be used in the future. 

Did you know that it is possible to use stem cell therapy to heal your body, regenerate skin, or treat age-related hair loss? The idea is that your own cells, such as bone marrow or hair follicle cells, can be extracted and manipulated to provide many health and cosmetic benefits. Parents do this by banking their newborn babies’ cord blood and embryonic stem cells for regenerative treatment later in life. 

What if we told you that babies are not the only ones with stem cells and that this powerful cell type also exists in adults? This article will help you identify various stem cell sources, evaluate stem cell usefulness, explore harvesting and storage methods, and illustrate how they could be used in the future. 

Areas of Stem Cell Populations

Adult stem cells are present in most major organs and can be isolated from a wide range of tissues in the body. Mesenchymal stem cells were first isolated from the bone marrow but have been found in adipose tissue (fat cells),  peripheral blood, skin, and hair follicles. Their location determines the ease of access to stem cells; for example, extracting stem cells from the bone marrow requires an invasive and painful procedure involving inserting a needle into the bone, and liposuction surgery is required for adipose stem cell collection. 

Adipose stem cells are isolated from fatty tissue, which is abundant in the body and provides many options for extraction sites. Stem cells from this source have shown promising results in clinical trials for patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries. However, the proportion of stem cells to other cell types highly depends on the area they are collected from, which affects stem cell yield. Research is required to find the most reliable option for extraction sites as it varies from person to person. 

As mentioned above, the hair follicle houses mesenchymal stem cells in the dermal papilla (involved in hair growth regulation) and connective tissue sheath, which can be differentiated into several cell types. The bulge region of the hair follicle also contains stem cells which generally function in epidermis and other hair follicle structure regeneration. They are abundant, can be accessed non-invasively by plucking hair, and are easily isolated with various materials and reagents. The hair follicle is the most reliable and least invasive source of stem cells that can be stored for tissue repair, hair regrowth, and many other uses.

Stem cells can also be found in urine or feces, but these sources are unreliable with high risks of contamination. Researchers have found four different cell populations during urine evaluation, showing that the urine-derived stem cells are available in small quantities, complicating the isolation process. 

Stem Cell Harvesting Methods

All the identified stem cell sources have harvesting methods that vary significantly in invasiveness and ease of extraction. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can be collected from the bone marrow through a surgical procedure that involves drilling into the bone with a needle and extracting the marrow. They can also be separated from the peripheral blood through a two-to-three-hour process where blood is removed from circulation, and stem cells are isolated; then, it is returned into circulation. This is a risky method as it does not produce consistently viable stem cells and involves a complex isolation procedure.

Adipose tissue (fat cells) adult stem cells can be collected through liposuction surgery or direct excision, which has been shown to yield the most stem cells when extracted from the abdomen but is highly invasive.

Epithelial stem cells
are collected with a punch biopsy, where a small sample of all layers of the skin (epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue) is obtained with a tiny tube to allow the isolation of the required cells.

However, not all harvesting methods require long surgical procedures and needles. Some techniques are non-invasive and much quicker to perform. Hair follicle extraction is the least invasive method of obtaining stem cells with no risks. Unlike procedures requiring injections and various drugs, this source simply needs a careful collection of hair follicles. To collect adult stem cells from the hair follicle, you must carefully pluck the hair, and then isolate them in a simple lab procedure.

How are stored stem cells preserved, and what kind of lifespan can they have in the bank?

After the extraction process, effective storage is required to ensure the cells can serve their function optimally when they are needed. Stem cells are stored at extremely low temperatures (cryopreservation) with steps including pre-freeze processing, use of a cryopreservation solution, freezing and providing adequate conditions for long-term storage. Cryopreservation ensures that they are at the right temperature required for safe thawing. Stem cells can be stored for decades with no signs of degradation. 

Future use: Is it worth it to bank stem cells?

The various benefits of banking adult stem cells make it essential to have them on hand for cosmetic and regenerative procedures. For regenerative applications, stem cells should be available in abundant qualities, obtainable with a minimally invasive process, differentiate into various cell types, and be safe to use without the possibility of an immune response. Hair follicle cells meet all the above criteria and can be used for many applications, including regenerating entire hair follicles and creating skin cells for wound healing or skin rejuvenation. 

Where can I get my storable stem cells banked?

To get the most value from banking, you must choose an adult stem cell banking service that processes and stores your preferred tissue type. Acorn Biolabs can help you store your cells through cryopreservation while extracting them from the most accessible source, hair follicles. Click here to start your adult stem cell banking journey today.

Acorn Biolabs