Recent advances in medical research and technology are offering potential therapies for diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries. For the past 15 to 20 years, the discovery of both sources of stem cells and immune cell engineering have demonstrated new promises in the fight against immunodeficiencies and cancer, and as a result, our immune cell banking knowledge is growing.
Immune cell banking is the cryogenic storage of one’s immune cells as insurance against fighting serious diseases in the future. Immune cells can be drawn out from the body’s own sources, typically bone marrow or umbilical cord blood and tissue. However, although the process and cells extracted seem similar, there are some key differences that distinguish cells for immune cell banking.
Cord Blood vs. Adult Immune Cell Banking: What’s the Difference?
Stem cells can be lab-engineered to become several different cells through engineering and cultivation, some examples being a number of white blood cells and T cells, both of which are vital to the immune response. Depending on who you are, the choice between adult immune cell banking and cord blood banking is going to present both benefits and challenges.
Adult Immune Cell Banking
The cells for adult immune cell banking are drawn from bone marrow or peripheral blood (which can be drawn either through a leukapheresis process or a smaller collection method involving drawing blood through bags or tubes).
Cord Blood & Tissue Immune Cell Banking
Cord blood contains both T and NK cells that can only be stored and preserved at the time of a child’s birth. However, adult immune cells can be harvested, preserved, and stored at any time. For the best results, it is important for adults to preserve their immune cells as early on as possible.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that the long-term benefits of immune cell banking could save your life one day. With today’s technology, immune cell banking is more accessible than ever. While T and NK cells are available in cord blood, they are only preserved if the child had private cord blood storage. However, for adults, currently FDA approved immunotherapy are all autologous (meaning, using your own immune cells). Now, people of all ages that want to take advantage of the latest cell therapy technology advancement, can use an adult immune cell banking service.
Reviewed by Paul V. Holland, MD