The first company to commercialize a method by which healthy adults may bank their own stem cells, NeoStem was the subject this past Sunday of the CBS television feature, "Eye on New York City".
NeoStem has pioneered a process by which endogenous adult stem cells that naturally reside in the bone marrow are "mobilized" to migrate into the peripheral blood, from which they are then collected through a process known as apheresis. Routinely used in other procedures such as the donation of blood platelets, apheresis allows stem cells to be easily separated from the other cells in the blood, so that the non-stem-cell cells may then be returned to the individual after the stem cells are removed. Apheresis is a minimally invasive, painless process that typically lasts approximately 3 to 4 hours, during which time the patient is awake and comfortable – all of which is highly preferable to bone marrow aspiration, the procedure for harvesting adult stem cells from bone marrow but which must be performed under general anesthesia due to the high level of pain that it causes. After the adult stem cells are collected via apheresis, the stem cells are then stored via a cryopreservation method and remain available to the individual indefinitely throughout the future for therapeutic use whenever needed.
According to Dr. Max Gomez, medical expert for CBS, autologous adult stem cells "have become the cutting edge way to treat osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, ankle and even back pain", among other ailments. Additionally, he adds, "The promise appears to be so great that more than 1,000 clinical trials are testing (autologous adult) stem cell therapies for various conditions and showing promising results for heart failure, diabetes, lupus and even macular degeneration", among other conditions.
According to Dr. Robin Smith, CEO of NeoStem, "NeoStem is very focused on autologous adult stem cell therapies being developed for multiple diseases." Among NeoStem’s recent acquisitions is an exclusive license for use of the technology which identifies and isolates VSELs (very small embryonic-like stem cells), which are not actually embryonic stem cells but nevertheless resemble embryonic stem cells in their pluripotency, and which are believed to have a number of potential clinical applications to the treatment of various diseases.
According to the company’s website, "NeoStem is the first company to provide adult stem cell collection and banking services to the general adult population. NeoStem’s medically proven process is a minimally invasive, painless and safe way to collect your adult stem cells. … There are tremendous clinical and economic advantages to autologous stem cell transplantation (receiving your own stem cells) as there are no issues with immune rejection. Engraftment with your own stem cells is faster, safer and much less costly than receiving someone else’s stem cells (allogeneic)." Additionally, as NeoStem points out on their website, "Currently, adult stem cell transplants have been successfully used as the standard of care in treating blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphomas and multiple myelomas. Today, over 2,000 clinical trials are being conducted in the United States looking at treatments for other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, vascular disease, autoimmune disorders such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and many more. In addition, adult stem cells are now being used for certain cosmetic procedures and evaluated for further ones."
According to the actress Suzanne Somers, who has utilized NeoStem’s services for banking her own adult stem cells, "Stem cell therapy is the most exciting new breakthrough in medicine. It gives me great peace of mind to know that my own stem cells will be banked as bio-insurance for me. Now I am prepared for my future as the beneficiary of medical benefits while I am alive."
In June of this year, NeoStem signed an exclusive 10-year-long contract with the China-based company Enhance Biomedical Holdings for a collaboration in the development of a network of adult stem cell collection and treatment centers in Taiwan and throughout a number of provinces in China. (Please see the related news articles on this website, entitled "NeoStem Signs Adult Stem Cell Agreemenet in China", dated June 15, 2009, and "NeoStem CEO Invited to Address Medical Tourism at Conference", dated September 8, 2008).