Stem cell banking: benefits and challenges
Stem cell banking is the process of isolating stem cells from the body of a donor, processing them, and storing them for potential future use in the context of stem cell research or regenerative medicine. The low temperature of stem cell banks preserves the biological properties of these cells and prevents contamination and degradation.
The establishment of these banks around the globe has been growing rapidly thereby facilitating their effective application in biomedical research as well as in potential disease treatment using cell therapy (1).
Benefits of stem cell banking
The ability of stem cells to self-renew and differentiate into specialized cells helps to treat a wide range of diseases. For instance:
a) Biobank-preserved stem cells can be transplanted in patients with type 1 diabetes to obtain pancreatic stem cells that can replace dysfunctional cells with insulin-producing cells (2).
b) The cord blood and placenta are rich in hematopoietic stem cells and hematopoietic progenitor cells that can differentiate into all other blood cell types, making them useful in treating leukemia and sickle cell anemia (3).
Challenges of stem cell banking
The most challenging aspect of maintaining a stem cell bank is cell preservation. Since each cell type has its own biology, the preservation of stem cells does not follow a universal protocol therefore there’s a constant need to develop new protocols. In addition to this, preservation has multiple steps including adding preservation solution, freezing, storage, and warming and each step can damage the cells.
Proper training should be provided to the ones performing these protocols in order to ensure that they understand how important each step is. Lastly, obtaining high-quality stem cells that are healthy and contamination-free is another challenge; they must also be properly cultured and preserved to retain their potency (1,4).
1. Stacey G. Stem Cell Banking: A Global View. Methods Mol Biol. 2017;1590:3-10. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6921-0_1. PMID: 28353258.
2. Salib A, Cayabyab F, Yoshihara E. Stem Cell-Derived Islets for Type 2 Diabetes. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 May 4;23(9):5099. doi: 10.3390/ijms23095099. PMID: 35563490; PMCID: PMC9105352.
3. Morin V. Stem-cell replication to treat blood diseases. CMAJ. 2014 Nov 18;186(17):E648. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.109-4925. Epub 2014 Oct 27. PMID: 25349011; PMCID: PMC4234733.
4. Sun C, Yue J, He N, Liu Y, Zhang X, Zhang Y. Fundamental Principles of Stem Cell Banking. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;951:31-45. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-45457-3_3. PMID: 27837552.