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Banking Stem Cells Could Save Your Life

Banking Stem Cells Could Save Your Life
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By    |   Wednesday, 26 August 2015 09:35 AM

It seems that every week brings news of a study showing that stem cells have the potential to treat yet another dire health condition.

In recent months researchers have found evidence that stem cell-based therapies hold promise for treating or curing diabetes, arthritis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s, and even baldness.

Adult stem cells have the amazing ability to transform into many different types of cells under the right circumstances. Think of stem cell therapy as a way of growing spare body parts.

Stem cells can replace cells that have been harmed by disease, injury, or age.

After they are in place, they renew themselves, continuing to divide in a healthy way, explains Alan J. Russell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

The potential is so promising that many experts are now recommending that people bank their stem cells for future use.

Unlike other tissue introductions, there’s no risk of rejection because stem cells come directly from the person who needs them, notes Dipnarine Maharaj, M.D., medical director of the South Florida Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Institute in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Dr. Maharaj, a pioneer in stem cell treatment and research, says there is little to lose and everything to gain from stem cell banking.

“When you consider the mortality and risk associated with other donors, the risk is almost zero with using your own stem cells,” he tells Newsmax Health.

Proactively putting stem cells aside as part of a wellness program enables you to use them as a type of medical insurance, he adds.

So far, stem-cell transplants are being used to treat certain cancers (such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma) and blood disorders.

The treatment is also showing promise for heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and other conditions.

Adult-derived stem cell therapy is being investigated as a way to better engineer joints that may be diseased.

“The ultimate goal is to repair or replace damaged tissues using cells as a starting point,” explains Russell. “That may slow its progress or cure disease, as opposed to just treating symptoms.”

Every organ contains adult stem cells, though the bone marrow is the most abundant source, Dr. Maharaj says.

Adult stem cells can be harvested at a physician’s office or a medical center that offers the procedure, which is completed over seven days.

After injecting the patient with a stem-cell stimulating agent, which increases the stem cells that are circulating by 100-fold, on the seventh day, the stem cells are collected over a four-to-six hour period, then banked for future use.

The cost is about $15,000 for the initial collection with storage going for about $1,000 a year. It is not covered by insurance.

“On an annual basis, there are thousands of healthy people who donate stem cells to someone else — that’s a very good thing to do — but you can also help yourself and store your own cells in case you need them in the future,” says Dr. Maharaj.

Stem cell banking is increasing in popularity and companies that offer storage services to individuals are moving into all parts of the country.

Some stem cell banks include Next Healthcare in Grand Forks, N.D.; BioLife Cell Bank of Dallas, Texas; NeoStem of New York; BioEden of Austin, Texas; Cryo-Cell International of Oldsmar, Fla.; and LifeBankUSA of Cedar Knolls, N.J. Your doctor may also be able to help you find a stem cell bank.

Dr. Maharaj says that people are never too old to bank their own stem cells as long as they’re healthy.

“If you don’t use your own stem cells, you can donate them to a family member,” he adds. You may save a loved one’s life, if not your own.

The full version of this article appeared in Health Radar newsletter. To read more, click here.


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In recent months researchers have found evidence that stem cell-based therapies hold promise for treating diabetes, arthritis, leukemia, MS, and even baldness. In fact, the potential is so promising many experts now recommend people bank their stem cells for future use.
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2015-35-26
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 09:35 AM
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