New discoveries in deriving stem cells opens door for storing and preserving for future health emergencies

March 5, 2009

Stem cell banking is going to be something we are all going to need to consider in the future

ChattahBox — The private stem cell/family banking market has been primarily focused on umbilical cord blood but new options are becoming available which may be of interest to every individual looking to protect their future health. We’re going to focus on companies providing stem cell banking in this post and future articles and today we also want to introduce a few of the new developments in deriving cells. The full story on New Developments in Umbilical Cord Blood Technologies, is published on our sister site LifeSciencesWorld.com writen By Sally Robbins but here some excerpts.

Most stem cell banks worldwide have focused primarily on the storage of umbilical cord blood specimens, which can only be harvested immediately after birth. The other principle sources of adult stem cells are bone marrow, peripheral blood (circulating throughout the body), adipose (fat) tissue, and recent discovery of stem cells isolated from menstrual blood. In contrast to cord blood stem cells, adipose-derived and menstrual-derived stem cells can be harvested at any point of an individual’s life for regenerative medical purposes.

Recent scientific studies show cells taken from menstrual blood can be converted into major tissues of the body, can be cultivated in the lab and used like stem cells in repairing damaged heart tissue, and address major issues including routine and safe cell harvesting of renewable cells that maintain their differentiation capacity and can be scaled for widespread clinical use.

“The recent discovery of the novel stem cell population in menstrual blood and related findings are scientific breakthroughs that are opening the doors to a new dimension in private stem cell/family banking, which has been primarily focused on umbilical cord blood,” said David Koos, Chairman and CEO of Bio-Matrix Scientific Group, Inc. (OTCBB: BMSN; http://www.BMSN.us), an emerging San Diego, CA-based research and development biotechnology company. BMSN opened its commercial cryogenic stem cell banking and processing facility in 2008 focusing on stem cells derived from cord blood and peripheral blood.

Collection Service Aimed at Women

In the private cord blood bank sector, among the oldest and largest is Cryo-Cell International, Inc. (OCTBB: CCEL; http://www.cryo-cell.com), based in Oldsmar, FL. Cryo-Cell expanded its blood bank focus and services to menstrual blood and marketing to women in November 2007 with the introduction of C’elle. It is touted as the first available service that enables women to collect and cryopreserve highly prolific stem cells harvested from menstrual flow in a manner similar to stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

A Look at U.S. Private/Family Banks

In the private/family cord blood banking sector there are 30-some companies located in 14 states, with four or more headquartered in Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and California. These companies started out since the early 1990s in response to the potential of cord blood transplants in treating diseases of the blood and immune system. Some of these companies also have separate operations focused on public cord blood banking and several are international.

Only a few family banks are regional or statewide. In recent years there has been a tremendous number of acquisitions in this sector of mostly publicly-traded companies by diversified entities in related businesses in the life sciences industry. Or, in the case of Cord Blood America, Inc. since 2006 the company has merged several cord blood banks around the country into its CorCell cord blood banking business headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. CorCell stores cord blood stem cells for approximately 20,000 customers, according to the company. CorCell’s laboratory partner is Progenitor Cell Therapy LLC, a client-based services company in Hackensack, NJ that supports the development of cellular therapies.

More than half of these public companies collect, process, and store cord blood stem cells in their own cryogenic facilities as well as offer transplantation services to be used for transplants and therapeutic treatments. Many of these companies also have highly qualified consumer marketing groups to sell their services, as well as related businesses of their parent company, to an array of target audiences in the neonatal, prenatal and other areas.

Among the biggest companies is ViaCell, Inc. (http://www.viacellinc.com) and its Viacord cord blood banking service (http://www.viacord.com), based in Cambridge, MA with cryogenic storage in Hebron, KY, outside of Cincinnati, OH. As of May 2008, Viacord claimed an inventory of 150,000 cord blood units stored. Two years after being listed on Nasdaq, parent ViaCell was acquired in November 2007 by PerkinElmer, Inc. (NYSE: PKI; http://perkinelmer.com), a global leader in health sciences based in Waltham, MA, in a $300 million deal. One aspect of PerkinElmer’s business is genetics-screening to pregnant women and newborn children.

ViaCell is probably best known for developing new drug therapies from stem cells. Since the acquisition, the company now markets the ViaCord Research Institute with its efforts focused on investigating new potential future uses of cord blood-derived cells in five key areas: cord blood technologies, emerging stem cell therapies, genetic screen, product development and related transplants.

The only large private bank that continues to be privately-owned is Cord Blood Registry (http://www.cordblood.com) based in San Bruno, CA with its storage facility in Tucson, AR. In December 2008, CBR, one of the original family cord blood banks, claimed an inventory of 250,000 cord blood collections, and has released over 100 for transplants.

The balance of the companies in this sector are primarily set-up to market a full range of services, but usually handle one aspect of the process in-house called “acquisitions.” These companies have contractual agreements with other entities for laboratory processing and cryogenic storage. They aggressively market their cord blood preservation services to expectant parents and the medical community. And in some cases, health insurance providers, anticipating if or when the day will arrive when insurance companies begin to cover the collection and storage of one’s stem cells.

The average cost of private cord blood banking in the U.S. for an individual is approximately $2,000 for the collection and approximately $125 per year for storage, according to industry figures. There are often other fees involved. Many of these companies offer potential donors incentives, like payment plans and special discounts for military personnel, students, and multiple births.

While the concept of private cord blood banking started in the U.S., there has been tremendous growth worldwide in recent years. A global educational web site dedicated to informing expectant parents with unbiased and current information about how to choose a bank, and all the issues involved, is Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood (http://www.parentsguidecordblood.org), based in Brookville, MD. The site includes listings and snap-shot histories of each U.S. private and public cord blood bank. There are also descriptions of 150 cord blood banks located in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

One of the greatest ironies of cord blood banking in the U.S. is that while most of the transplants come out of the public banks, most of the inventory is stored in private banks. As of June, 2008, the Association of Family Cord Blood Banks estimated that about 750,000 cord blood collections were stored in family banks in the U.S. At the same time, the U.S. public inventory resides primarily in the NMDP cord blood bank network (73,111 collections) and the New York Blood Center (36,638 collections), amounting to about 110,000 collections for public use. The disparity is considered economic; in private banks a client pays the processing fee, whereas most public banks are supported by government funding.

Advances in Cord Blood Collection, Processing, Transplantation

In cord blood banking, whether in private or public entities, the major problem is the limited amount of blood extracted by using the only technique known today – gravitation into a blood donor bag. This small amount of blood enables transplants only to about 36kg body weight patients (pediatric) and not to adults.

SituGen Ltd., a research and development company based in Tel Aviv, Israel (http://www.situgen.com), part of the Rad-Bynet Group of multi-national technology companies, believes it has developed a solution. A disposable device and kit for CBSC collection. They are specifically designed to solve the problem of blood quantity and enables to maximize the volume of UCB and number of stem cells harvested.

SituGen completed clinical trials in 2008 of its innovative patent-pending service for the collection of umbilical cord blood. The trials show that the device increases the number of stem cells collected by an average of 81 percent, to 1.51 billion Total Nucleated Cells (TNC), compared to the world average of 0.83 billion TNC.

SituGen reports this significantly increases the quantity of stem cells that can be transplanted into adults. (TNC is the main indicator for the quality of cord blood collected. The number of nucleated cells is a significant factor in transplantation success and is a major predictor of recovery speed after transplant.) The device reportedly will undergo international trials during first quarter 2009 in the U.S. and Europe and be available to market by the end of the year. The regulation process (FDA + CE) is expected to be completed by third quarter 2009. Following successful completion of clinical trials, Situgen plans to manufacture and market the device to cord blood banks worldwide.

In developments for cord blood processing, BioE (http://www.bioe.com), a St. Paul, MN-based biomedical company that provides enabling cord blood stem cell tools and technologies, reported in January 2009 that it received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for its PrepaCyte-CB Processing System for umbilical cord blood. PrepaCyte-CB provides private and public cord blood banks a simple and cost-effective method for processing umbilical cord blood to obtain potentially therapeutic cells – TNC and CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells – for eventual transplantation in humans.

An initiative for transplantation is underway at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX., supported by PerkinElmer and its ViaCord Research Institute in an extension of their collaboration. As announced January 2009, M.D. Anderson is conducting a clinical trial to explore a cord blood expansion technology called “Co-culture.”

The trial seeks to determine whether the use of “co-culture” will be safe and result in more rapid engraftment in adults receiving cord blood transplants, hoping to unlock the full therapeutic promise of umbilical cord stem cells by increasing the total number of cells available from a single cord blood unit. Based on the results of this trial, PerkinElmer’s Viacell cord blood banking business and M.D. Anderson will determine the feasibility of using Unrestricted Somatic Stem Cells (USSCs) derived from cord blood in the Co-culture of cord blood for transplantation. USSCs, proprietary to ViaCord, Viacell’s cord blood banking operation, (patent pending #09/985,335), are a type of stem cell found in umbilical cord blood, which have he ability to differentiate into many cell types, including endothelial cells, fat, bone, cartilage and neuronal cells.

In another PerkinElmer support initiative with its ViaCord Research Institute, the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) announced in January, 2009 that it will explore the potential use of umbilical cord blood-derived from stem cells in treating Type 1 Diabetes.

The UMMS initiative, led by chief investigator Dale L. Greiner, Ph.D., of UMMS’ Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center, will enable the institution to continue efforts to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes and other immune disorders. The primary goal is to study the ability of these cord blood derived cells to modulate a human immune system in a pre-clinical animal model. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., affects more than 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8 percent of the population, and is estimated to have a total annual economic cost of $174 billion.

Credits: Sally Robbins is an author and freelance writer in New York City. (sally.robbins4@gmail.com)


Comments

3 Responses to “New discoveries in deriving stem cells opens door for storing and preserving for future health emergencies”

  1. David Granovsky on March 5th, 2009 10:14 pm

    You missed a huge alternative to banking cord stem cells that is available both if you missed the opportunity to store your child’s cord and if cord storage is out of your price range!

    “Wait! Before you plan for the tooth fairy to come and take away your child’s tooth, consider preserving it for future use. Believe it or not, the human tooth contains healthy pulp tissue which contains stem cells that can be utilized to regenerate your child’s health if needed. Sounds like a Sci-Fi movie, but it’s not. It works along the same principles as preserving the cord blood when your baby is born. Stem cells extracted from the healthy tissue within your child’s tooth can help fix medical ailments, grow new organs, repair bone, and much more…” http://www.workingmother.com/web?service=direct/1/ViewBlogPage/dlinkBlog&sp=S1406

    “StemSave harvests stem cells from teeth already pulled by your dentist, which are delivered to its lab in a patented transportation kit that keeps cells alive by chilling them. All stem cells aren’t created equal, but StemSave CEO Art Greco claims that cells from teeth are particularly versatile — and the younger the tooth, the better. The service costs $590 to join, and $100 per year after that.” – http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/banking-stem-cells-for-future-use-stemsave-and-fast-company-magazine/

    “Potentially, they’re incredibly miraculous,” said Dr. Bob Pensack, who had his daughter, Miriam, save her cells. “They’ve already been miraculous in the lab.” “They are what is called very plastic, which means they can become different kinds of tissue,” Greco said. “That’s what makes them very valuable.” – http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/local-oral-surgeon-harvests-stem-cells-for-patients/

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  3. Stem Cell harvesting and storage series - NeoStem Inc. : ChattahBox on March 8th, 2009 7:00 pm

    […] Smith, MD, CEO of NeoStem, as part our series on stem cell harvesting and storage series started here, to find out more about what NeoStem does. First a quick intro on the company. NeoStem, Inc. (NYSE […]

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