Through advances in technology over the last couple decades, great strides have been made in the realm of dealing with diseases that have been troubling humans for centuries. The discovery of stem cells has been a huge leap forward in developing treatment therapies for many diseases that couldn’t be dealt with effectively before, and the ability to engineer immune cells has shown promise in fighting against cancers and immunodeficiency in humans. These advancements have led us to learn more about how to gather and store immune cells and cord blood.
Cord blood banking involves cryogenically storing the blood from the umbilical cord at the birth of a child as a form of insurance against future diseases that could benefit from stem cell therapies for treatment. The tissue can also be stored from the umbilical cord, and a specialist in cord blood banking and immune cell banking, like Health Banks, can separate out the immune cells and stem cells, or can store whole tissues with patented technologies that can ensure it’s available to use decades from the time it’s stored.
Cord Blood vs Immune Cell Banking
While cord blood banking involves banking some immune cells, generally it is focused on storing the stem cells from the umbilical cord, cells which can be differentiated into any type of cell needed for therapy treatments in the future, whether it is white blood cells, T cells, or other immune cells. Immune cell banking focuses on storing the immune cells that are found in your peripheral blood. These can be stored in a similar manner to stem cells, but storing immune cells has its own set of benefits.
Immune Cell Banking
Immune cell banking is generally done as an adult through a process of extracting immune cells from peripheral blood. It can be gathered through a leukapheresis process, or through small collection methods of drawing blood via bags or tubes. Since these cells are extracted as an adult already, they may not be as useful for genetic disorders that are already affecting the immune cells at the time of extraction.
Cord Blood Banking and Immune Cell Banking
When harvesting immune cells as an adult, as mentioned before, you could get cells that have already been affected by a disease, so it’s always best to get them stored as early as possible, but it can be done at any time, unlike cord blood harvesting. Cord blood can only be harvested at the time of birth. It contains both T and NK cells, and they need to be preserved immediately, otherwise they will become unviable.
The uses of cord blood banking and immune cell banking are ever increasing with the advancements in immune cell engineering and stem cell therapy treatment options, so it’s important to get storing the cells as early as possible. For cord blood, this means, storing immediately after birth, and for adults, storing immune cells at as young of an age as possible. However, getting it done means you have that extra insurance against future ailments and diseases.
Health Banks offers lifelong immune cell banking with experienced medical professional staff on hand to ensure proper handling and storage of immune cells and cord blood or tissue. Contact us for more details about cord blood banking and immune cell banking.
Reviewed by Paul V. Holland, MD