We can all understand the importance of having the right insurance policy to protect our property and well-being from potential risks. Science now provides the possibility to invest in protection at a cellular level. Find out how Acorn gives you the best chance to capitalize on the advancements of regenerative medicine.
Experience has taught us that it is a smart choice to plan for future contingencies. It is not a matter of expecting things to go wrong but preparing ourselves in the event that they do. While there is much that we can do to minimize our risk in different situations —passing a driving test to ascertain our skills behind the wheel to prevent car accidents, or reducing our consumption of processed meals to avoid unhealthy weight gain— even the most cautious and health-conscious among us can see the value in auto and health insurance. The same principle applies to life, home, disability, and loan insurance.
Insurance for the 21st century
Recent advances in the field of medicine have opened the door to a new type of insurance that just a few decades ago would have seemed like science fiction: biologic insurance. This is possible via stem cell banking. You may have heard of stem cells before. Unlike adult cells, which have become specialized, stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell in the body.
Up until a few years ago, garnering stem cells required invasive and painful procedures such as bone marrow extraction. Additionally, these types of stem cells are multipotent, but do not have the ability to become any type of cell in the body. Fortunately, researchers have found a way to induce pluripotency in mature cells. This means that they can now take cells from hair follicles and program them to behave like stem cells. Thanks to this process, your cells have the potential to become whatever type of cell you need for medical treatment.
Let’s say you find yourself in need of an organ in a few decades. If you have not thought ahead and banked your cells, you will have to join a waitlist, along with thousands of patients, and hope for a match. Even then, there would still be a risk of rejection. You could simply have your cells banked then, right? You could, but their potential would be severely reduced. As we age, our cells begin to deteriorate. It is a normal process. However, this means that by the time you need them they may be too damaged to function as a healthcare resource.
How you can take advantage of this technology
By banking your cells today, you can shield them from the damage caused by aging. Once you provide a sample that the scientists at Acorn consider viable, they will preserve your cells under carefully controlled conditions. When you need them, they will be as young and healthy as they were the day you took your sample.
So what exactly can this biologic insurance protect against? Taking adult cells and turning them into the building blocks of the human body allows for endless applications. There are over 1,000 clinical trials taking place at the moment that aim at treating a multitude of conditions. These include musculoskeletal and spinal cord injuries, as well as diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Just like any other field of study propelled by advancements in technology, regenerative medicine is constantly expanding and we are barely scratching the surface of its potential. Scientists now have the tools to theoretically treat any disease imaginable. It is just a matter of time before treatments become widely available. When that happens, those who have banked their cells in advance will be in a better position to take advantage of these treatments.
Investing in the future
This is not the first time that we as a society have had the opportunity to invest in scientific and technological advances that seem far-fetched at first but become commonplace later on. Forensic police departments, for example, have come a long way. In the 1970s, forensic departments were unsure about the value of preserving biological samples found at crime scenes. At the time, technology only allowed them to determine blood type. It still was not advanced enough to identify a suspect.
Years later, once DNA technology advanced, forensic departments around the world that decided to invest in preserving samples could identify suspects with 99.9% certainty. In many cases, this technology helped to vindicate people that were wrongly convicted. Justice was served only because certain groups had the foresight to invest in something they knew had value and could make a difference in the future.
There is one simple lesson we can learn from instances like this. It is to prepare ourselves for the next wave of advances in science and medicine that is surely coming. While there is no guarantee that you will ever need to use your home or auto insurance —we certainly hope not— we are sure you would agree that having those resources at your disposal brings peace of mind. Imagine how much more meaningful it would be to know you have secured access for yourself, or your loved ones, to potentially life-saving therapies that will become available in the future.
To take advantage of cell banking, head to Acorn’s lab headquarters in the MaRS Centre in Downtown Toronto. You can also sign up to order the world’s first affordable, accessible, live-cell home collection kit.