Stem cells are a valuable resource for modern cell therapy. Newborn cord blood contains young, vital stem cells that can be obtained without invasive measures and are virtually free of any pathogens and environmental influences. These stem cell are cryogenically preserved in stem cell banks for decades and stored for medical health care.
Private stem cell banks store stem cells for a child and its family, with parents paying for this service. Public banks retain these stem cells for use by third-party recipients as a service for the general public. This service is funded by donations or public resources. Establishing a nationwide public donation system would be difficult and perhaps unfeasible due to costs, and based on a very high rejection rate of up to 80%, it would not make much sense, either.
Vita 34 in Germany, one of the ten most influential stem cell banks, has created a combination of both models. As part of this process, public registries will also have access to some of the privately stored cord blood. With VitaMine&Yours, Vita 34 has developed the first true hybrid product, combining private health care and public donation.
A stem cell transplant from your own body or from another person is often the only lifesaving measure for various hematopoietic disorders, immune system diseases, and for reviving the hematopoietic system after certain cancer treatments. Databases around the world are searched for a donor with compatible tissue markers (HLA type) for a stem cell transplant from another person (e.g. for leukemia). If no compatible bone marrow donor (HLP type) is available, one of the public registries can be searched for a cord blood specimen.
Up until now, it was possible to store cord blood as a public donation or for private medical care. With VitaMine&Yours, Vita 34 can store cord blood as two complete and independent stem cell deposits if there is sufficient cord blood. The portion intended for personal medical care is available for individual use at all times. The second deposit is made available to the general public. Vita 34 checks the general suitability of the specimen for public donation and also determines the tissue markers (HLA typing). If the results meet the legal and regulatory requirements, the information is entered in a donation registry and is accessible for searches around the world.
With VitaMine&Yours, more high-quality preparations of stem cell specimens can be provided for registry searches. This also increases the likelihood that patients will find a compatible stem cell deposit that can then immediately be provided for transplant.
Thanks to a steady increase in the number of core blood stem cell specimens available, valuable time and money can be saved during a transplant. This recovered time plays a much more crucial role for the patients concerned since their condition is typically critical and oftentimes, they urgently need a prompt donation.
In the future, a hybrid banking product like VitaMine&Yours should be offered by all cord blood banks around the world in order to help provide compatible donors for vital stem cell applications.
Nearly 750,000 cord blood specimens ready for immediate use can currently be retrieved from public banks via global donation registries. The likelihood of finding your genetic twin in one of them is 1:1,000,000. If the specimens from private cord blood banks could also be accessible to the public, we would already have roughly 4 million more specimens available for global searches.
Vita 34’s free donation option add-on allows parents-to-be to also help provide more stem cell deposits for the general public in the future. This improves the availability of specimens with a wide variety of tissue markers and allows even more stem cell recipients to find their genetic twin. Innovations like VitaMine&Yours have the potential to actively shape solutions for future health care work with collaboration between private cord blood banks and public stem cell registries and to create a solid foundation for modern cell therapies using stem cells.