San Diego, CA, USA, July 18th, 2018 – Steminent Biotherapeutics Inc. (“Steminent” or “Company”) a private, clinical-stage cell-therapy company with offices in Taiwan, San Diego and Shanghai, is pleased to announce that the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has raised no objections to the Company’s Investigational New Drug (“IND”) application. This allows the Company to initiate its Phase II clinical trial for polyglutamine spinocerebellar ataxia (“PolyQ SCA”) to enroll patients at clinical sites in the United States. This is a key milestone for the Company’s international Stemchymal® SCA Phase II clinical trials program. [Read more…]
Stem cells are often in the news these days, and among the ways to obtain them, cord blood banking stands out for several reasons. However, some parents express concern that given the already high price of raising a child – a prospect that can run tens of thousands of dollars in the first year alone – the additional cost of cord blood banking may prove too taxing.
The question of how much it costs to save umbilical cord blood, either with a private or a public cord blood bank, is a good one. Additional questions to ask include why stem cells are important, what are the benefits of saving them, and how to accomplish the cord blood banking process.
Understanding the Cost of Cord Blood Banking
In this article:
- What Is Cord Blood Banking?
- What Does It Mean to Bank Cord Blood?
- What Are the Benefits of Banking Cord Blood?
- Where Can You Preserve Cord Blood?
- How Much Money Are We Talking Here?
- Why Does Cord Blood Banking Cost What It Costs?
- Should You Bank Cord Blood?
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
The excitement over cord blood centers around the cells it contains. Cord blood is the blood that flows through the umbilical cord of a newborn, which physicians can drain via a simple process after the baby is born. This blood contains a range of important cell types, including blood progenitor cells known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Doctors can use the blood to treat patients suffering from a variety of diseases, including lymphoma and anemia.
Cord blood banking refers to the process of gathering this blood and placing it into storage, either in a public or private facility. There it will stay until someone needs it. Depending on whether the cord blood is privately stored for a fee or publicly donated at no cost to the donor, it could be used by a member of the infant’s family or someone in the general population.
What Does It Mean to Bank Cord Blood?
Parents can choose to bank cord blood for a number of reasons. First, they may wish to preserve the blood for the sake of the baby, who may need these precious stem cells later in life. They might also want to keep them on hand for brothers, sisters, or other relatives. Stem cells in the family bloodline are far more likely to be a match in case of a transplant or transfusion.
Furthermore, some cord blood banks will also store umbilical cord tissue, which is they physical matrix of the umbilical cord. The primary component forming the umbilical cord tissue is a gelatinous substance called “Wharton’s jelly.”
In comparison to cord blood which is rich in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), cord tissue is rich in a different type of stem cell known as a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC). For this reason, parents may elect to store both umbilical cord blood and tissue for their newborn.
The main reason to bank cord blood lies in the fact that the stem cells it contains can treat more than 80 diseases. Regenerative medicine is a medical specialty devoted to restoring or renewing body parts and functions that patients have lost. It relies on stem cells for many of its treatment approaches.
Why? Because stem cells have a unique ability that other cells do not. Whereas a skin cell can turn into other skin cells, for instance, it cannot turn into a variety of skin cell types or into a blood cell. Stem cells, on the other hand, are capable of transforming into many different types of cells, potentially allowing them to replace lost cells within a patient’s body. Some stem cell types can also hone to sites of injury and exert therapeutic effects on tissues that may need repair as a result of injury or disease.
For example, mesenchymal stem cells, such as those found in umbilical cord tissue, are known for exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic (anti-scarring) effects and can support immune system function.
What Are the Benefits of Banking Cord Blood?
The main benefit to banking cord blood is it allows parents to safeguard stem cells against a future disease or injury. Many parts of the body do not regenerate, so they are at risk of failing when exposed to cancer or devastating treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy.
For instance, if a child is diagnosed with leukemia, they might need to undergo radiation to ensure their blood and bone marrow were completely free of cancer. Unfortunately, these treatments also pose the risk of harming the healthy tissue. Some patients cannot recover from this damage. Having access to stem cells, however, allows the patient to repopulate that lost blood or tissue so they can go on to have a normal life.
Cord blood also offers the ability to avoid reintroducing a disease. If, for instance, a patient needs to undergo chemotherapy to kill off cancer cells, they would want to introduce fresh blood or bone marrow tissue that didn’t bear the potential seeds of cancer. Thus, instead of harvesting stem cells from themselves before treatment, they could use the banked cord blood as the source of stem cells instead.
Banked family cord blood also reduces the risk of graft-versus-host disease. That is when a stem cell transplantation appears to the body as a foreign invasion, so it fights the transplant instead of working with it.
This is avoidable by using donor tissue from people more closely related to the patient. They can also use the patient’s own banked stem cells collected at birth.
Again, because family bloodlines are close, there is a much greater chance of the patient’s body accepting those treatments than if they came from an outside donor. This means a greater chance of fighting off those life-threatening diseases, rather than fighting the transplant.
Where Can You Preserve Cord Blood?
When it comes to choosing blood banks, you have two choices: public and private banks. The latter, as the name indicates, means you will have private access to the blood and stem cells you store.
A public blood bank, on the other hand, offers your baby’s cord blood to the general public, which makes lifesaving treatments possible for strangers. This could prove a tremendous gift for someone and their family, especially considering how rare stem cells still are.
If you are curious and want to read more about public and private blood banking, you can do so here. Moreover, it is possible to bank cord blood from a home birth, so those who wish to deliver their babies at home still have options.
How Much Money Are We Talking Here?
Now let’s talk money. Many parents worry about what they perceive as an often prohibitively expensive cost. The up-front cost of umbilical cord blood collection and processing is approximately $1,500 – $2,000 in the United States. As a point of reference, the largest U.S. cord blood bank, Cord Blood Registry, charges $1,500 for the collection and processing of cord blood only or $2,795 for the collection and processing of both cord blood and tissue.
Over 18 years, cord blood storage can cost another $2,500 – $3,000. This is because the average cost per year for cord blood storage is $150, which totals approximately $2,700 over 18 years ($150 x 18 = $2,700).
Therefore, the total cost of cord blood collection and processing, as well as 18 years of storage, will cost most parents over $4,000.
When both umbilical cord blood and tissue are stored, the ongoing storage cost doubles, typically costing parents $300 per year ($150 for cord blood storage and $150 for cord tissue storage).
Therefore, when both cord blood and tissue are stored over 18 years, the total storage costs averages around $5,400 ($300 per year x 18 years = $5,400).
When the upfront costs of collecting and processing cord blood and cord tissue are combined with the ongoing storage costs over an 18 year period, parents will typically pay over $8,000.
The numbers range around the world, but these cost averages around 2 percent of American household income for one year. This is based on the incomes of families in the top 10 percent. In Latin America, this figure averages near 8 percent of household income. On the other hand, in some Asian countries, the cost can hit as high as 20 percent.
For obvious reasons, not all families will find the cost worthwhile. That leads many parents to ask what exactly makes the process so expensive. Fear not, there is a good reason for the cost of cord blood banking, explained next.
Why Does Cord Blood Banking Cost What It Costs?
Parents also have the option to donating to a public cord blood bank at no cost to themselves. In these cases, the public cord blood bank covers the costs of collection, processing and storage. In the case of private cord blood storage, parents must pay for:
- Screening the blood for infectious disease, which if found, can make the blood ineligible for storage: $150
- Processing the blood to remove the stem cells from the rest of the blood components runs between $200 and $300
- Measurement of nucleated cells, a stem cell measurement that helps physicians make better decisions in using the blood, runs about $35
- Checking the sample to ensure no bacterial or fungal infection is about $75
- Checking the sample to ensure the stem cells it contains are actually able to produce new cells costs between $200 and $250
Although public banks do not charge anything to parents to bank newborn blood, they are subject to much more rigorous standards for banking blood. This means they have to run many tests before they even bank the blood, 80 percent of which they must discard due to low quality. This substantially raises the cost requirements for public cord blood banks.
Naturally, parents can save a lot of money by donating cord blood to public banks. However, they lose the assurance of having that blood preserved to help their baby later on, should they need it. Also, public banks do not store cord tissue, so that tissue will be discarded as medical waste.
Should You Bank Cord Blood?
In the end, donating cord blood is a very personal decision. Some parents worry about putting their child’s genetic material out into the world, even in a public bank. Others fear that if they do not take the opportunity now, they might never have the opportunity again.
In addition to the cost of cord blood banking, it is valuable to understand the process. To learn more, watch this informative video by Cryo-Cell International.
As described in this article, stem cells from the umbilical blood and other human tissues are likely to play an increasing role in the future of medicine.
Do you still have questions about cord blood banking? Share them here and we will do our best to answer them.
The American Association of Stem Cell Physicians (AAOSCP) is an organization created to advance research and the development of therapeutics in regenerative medicine, including diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease related to or occurring within the human body.
The AAOSCP aims to serve as an educational resource for physicians, scientists, and the public in diseases that can be caused by physiological dysfunction that are ameliorable to medical treatment.
The organization’s annual summit will be held this year at the Mandarin Oriental Miami, Florida, from Friday, August 10th to Sunday, August 12th, 2018.
Reasons to Attend AAOSCP’s 2018 Summit
The conference will feature three days of educational and social events with leading physicians and pioneers in the fields of stem cells and regenerative medicine.
It will be an opportunity to meet, workshop, and network with prominent doctors and scientists from around the world.
It will also feature two hour interactive workshops with small participant-to-instructor ratios and a customized curriculum focusing on developing hands-on skills. Each technique will be taught by experts in the field, using didactic sessions with dynamic multimedia presentations, live demonstrations and scanning on live model, as well as phantoms.
Physicians will have the opportunity to earn up to 24 CME credits. [Read more…]
Can stem cell therapy be used to treat an ACL tear or torn meniscus? As a long-time rugby player, I have seen my fair share of ACL and meniscus injuries, including experiencing them myself. While these injuries are traditionally treated using invasive orthopedic surgeries, stem cells are now emerging as a therapeutic alternative.
In this article:
- Stem Cells for ACL or Meniscus Tear
- Are Stem Cell Treatments for Knees Safe
- Regenexx Review
- Stem Cell Institute Review
- Can Stem Cell Therapy Regrow Meniscus
- Does Stem Cell Therapy for Knees Work
A diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be alarming, but thanks to stem cell treatments for COPD, the situation may not be as dire. Once a patient develops COPD, it means that he or she has developed complications to existing breathing problems. The chronic disease happens when inflammation in the lung interferes with airflow. Not being able to breathe properly and having frequent chest tightness can be distressing, especially when it is caused by a chronic disease, rather than a temporary illness like bronchitis. Thankfully, new options for treatment emerge every day. Among these options are stem cell treatments for COPD. [Read more…]