What is Cell Banking?

You may or may not have heard of cell banking. Many parents will have a portion of the umbilical cord blood from their infant sent to a cell bank. These cells would be available if the child would develop a childhood leukemia.

However, few people have done cell banking or tissue banking for themselves.

At Pittsburgh Stem Cell we offer a program called Cells on Ice. In this program, a person can choose to have a sample of their adipose tissue harvested and cryogenically stored for future use. If autologous mesenchymal stem cells would be required in the future they can be retrieved from the specimen.  

There are two options available

One option is to cryogenically save the adipose tissue and when needed, expand cells to use for patient administration. With this option, you could, in theory, obtain multiple samples from the same tissue.  Say for example a person required mesenchymal stem cells for treating osteoarthritis, congestive heart failure, or COPD. A call would be placed to American cryo- stem which is the FDA-registered clinical laboratory, where the tissue is banked. They would retrieve the tissue, remove the stem cells, and expand them from a few thousand to 10 or 20 million. This expansion process could take one to two months to obtain the required amount of mesenchymal stem cells. These cells would then be sent by overnight courier, to my office and I could administer them to the patient the next day.

With this option, you could use one treatment of stem cells this year for right knee arthritis, the second treatment in five years for erectile dysfunction, another treatment seven years from now for congestive heart failure, and so on.

With the second option, which is called bio-insurance, when the tissue arrives at Cells on Ice it is immediately expanded to provide 50 million mesenchymal stem cells. These cells are then cryogenically preserved. This option would be extremely important if stem cells are required immediately. One or two months are not required for expansion as this has already been accomplished before the cryopreservation. This form of therapy, also called bio-insurance, is best used when a person has had a stroke or heart attack. With these emergencies, cell therapy is required to be given within days of the event to have the best result.

Both of these options are only available to affiliates of the Cell Surgical Network.