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Transporting Stem Cells Around the World


A press release came out on Jan 29th from Newcastle University in Great Britain, announcing the discovery that stem cells can be transported at low cost on a bed of seaweed gel which protects them from their hostile environment outside the body. The article did not mention that the stem cells are transported at 60 degrees Fahrenheit on this seaweed matrix, and that they are stable for 5 days in an air-tight environment. Once they arrive at their destination, the cells are extracted and put into culture medium and allowed to grow.

This is a high-technology effort to preserve stems cells so that they can be used on anyone, not just the person from whom they were taken. The technique can be extremely helpful under conditions of severe tissue damage or surgical replacement of body parts. The paper outlining the technique is the last in a series dating to 2011, so the news has been available for some time.[1],[2],[3]

This is NOT an office-based technology.

I find it ironic that the very cells which we produce within our own bodies have to be harvested, stored, transported and manipulated for use in someone else’s body, while we are told that to harvest the cells for immediate use in our own bodies from which they came is somehow a less acceptable tool in the medical toolbox.

It seems a great shame to pursue someone else’s stem cells half way across the world, in a GMP manufactured package approved by the FDA as a drug, when these same cells are available at much lower cost and immunologic danger, derived from our own bodies.

Do the various techniques of harvesting require medical training? Yes, of course. Do they require steady hands and an enquiring receptive mind to learn? Yes, of course. Do they require three or four years of residency training in a medical specialty? Maybe not so much.

Click here to learn more about stem cell therapy in general. For an overview of the field, click here.

Call us at 480-240-2600 if you would like to check out your options. We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation during which we can determine whether what we have to offer meets your needs.

[1] Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2013 Jul;19(7):568-76. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2012.0489. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

A novel alternative to cryopreservation for the short-term storage of stem cells for use in cell therapy using alginate encapsulation. Chen B1, Wright B, Sahoo R, Connon CJ.

[2] Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2010 Oct;16(5):965-77. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2009.0660. Alginate encapsulation as a novel strategy for the cryopreservation of neurospheres. Malpique R1, Osório LM, Ferreira DS, Ehrhart F, Brito C, Zimmermann H, Alves PM.

[3] Biomaterials. 2006 Jul;27(20):3691-700. Epub 2006 Mar 29. Biocompatibility of alginate-poly-L-lysine microcapsules for cell therapy. Orive G1, Tam SK, Pedraz JL, Hallé JP.