Stem Cells|Stem Cell Collection

Stem cell collection

The process is simple, non-invasive, and delayed cord clamping compatible.

Smart Cells preserves your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells at birth in case they or their sibling need them for treatment later.

You can choose to store cord blood or tissue – or ideally both. While cord blood stem cells are the most popular type of sample collected currently, research and clinical trials underway on cord tissue show great promise for the future of stem cell treatments.

A healthy future can be planned – it only takes five easy steps

Step 1
Order your stem cell
collection kit

Order online or by calling
01895 424430.

Step 2
Inform your
phlebotomist

In the UK, a trained and licensed phlebotomist from a dedicated service will perform the collection.

Step 3
Your kit is
collected

Once your baby’s sample has been collected, call Smart Cells. They will send a courier to collect and transport the sample to the laboratory near Heathrow Airport.

Step 4
Samples are
processed

Your baby’s sample is tested, processed, and cryogenically frozen at the laboratory.

Step 5
Samples are stored
for 25 years

Smart Cells will call you to confirm the successful storage of your baby’s sample. This sample will be stored safely for 25 years.

Step 1
Order your stem cell
collection kit

Order online or by calling
01895 424430.

Step 2
Inform your
phlebotomist

A trained and licenced phlebotomist will perform the collection. Liaise with them directly to ensure they attend the hospital to take the cord blood sample from the umbilical cord after birth. The process is quick, non-invasive, and delayed cord clamping compatible.

Cord tissue can also be very easily isolated from a section of the umbilical cord collected at birth.

Step 3
Your kit is
collected

Once your baby’s sample has been collected, call Smart Cells. They will send a courier to collect and transport the sample to the laboratory near Heathrow Airport.

Every cord blood (CB) and cord tissue (CT) sample is transported to the laboratory as quickly as possible in approved, validated, and temperature monitored transit containers to preserve the stem cells during this process.

Step 4
Samples are
processed

Your baby’s sample is tested, processed, and cryogenically frozen at the laboratory using Sepax TM technology.

Samples are safely stored in vapour phase nitrogen at temperatures so low all metabolic processes of the cells cease. When correctly handled, these cells can be thawed and restored to grow and multiply in a patient undergoing transplant treatment.

Step 5
Samples are stored
for 25 years

Smart Cells will call you to confirm the successful storage of your baby’s sample. This sample will be stored safety for 25 years.

BioSafe SepaxTM Processing Methodology

Smart Cells uses SepaxTM to process cord blood – the globally-trusted, leading technology in the field of stem cell banking. Many thousands of successful transplants have been undertaken worldwide using Sepax TM-processed cord blood units.

The closed-system processing produces high-quality, stem cell-enriched cord blood products. These products work with recognised cryopreservation and long-term storage techniques and are compatible with end-user transplant requirements.

It is well recognised that both the Total Nucleated Cell Count (TNC) and viable CD34+ stem cell doses in a cord blood unit following thawing for use are critical to successful clinical outcome. Smart Cells undertake regular auditing of cord blood yields following processing and after freezing and thawing processed cells. Smart Cells testing data shows the cell recovery rate for TNC is 86.81% and CD34 cell recovery rate is 75.3% – both well above industry standard.

Quality Assurance and Testing

All samples are fully traceable throughout the journey, including testing, receipt, processing, cryopreservation, storage, and release for treatment if required.

Samples are tested and validated for sterility in accredited UK NHS laboratories.

Cord blood

All samples are tested in-house for full blood and viable CD34 stem cell counts. Processing and cryopreservation procedures are validated at least twice annually by thawing test aliquots to check cell numbers and viable cell recovery. Smart Cells participates in independent UK External Quality Assurance Schemes (NEQAS) to ensure these tests are accurate.

Cord tissue

Following processing, small test segments are reserved for each sample. Representative segments are sent to an independent laboratory for viability and cell culture testing, and immunophenotyping which checks the type of stem cells in the tissue. These validation tests are run at least twice per year and can be arranged should a sample be proposed for use.

FAQs

Collection must be performed by a trained and licensed healthcare professional. This could be a private obstetrician or midwife or an assigned phlebotomist.


The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) requires the person who performs the collection to be appropriately trained in the Smart Cells collection process and hold a valid Third-Party Agreement to do so. Smart Cells can arrange for a fully trained and qualified medical professional to carry out the collection at your birth.

Yes, Smart Cells has a fully trained team of phlebotomists* who are able to visit your home to collect the sample during a home birth. They will discuss your options with you and make sure they have a safe and sterile area to collect your samples.


*Specific to the United Kingdom only.

You can either wait for the placenta to deliver naturally or the delivery may be induced via an injection. Either method does not prevent Smart Cells from collecting your sample.

“HLA” is short for Human Leukocyte Antigens, which are proteins in the immune system that determine whether a patient will react against a donor transplant or if the donor transplant cells will react against the recipient. A very good basic tutorial about HLA types is on the Stanford Website, and the national Be The Match program (aka NMDP) has more info on the role of HLA type in transplants of stem cells from bone marrow or cord blood.


The HLA type of cord blood is always assessed by public banks at the time of storing cells, and then the type is listed on a registry that can be searched  for patients worldwide who need  a transplant. Family/private banks typically do not measure the HLA type at the time of banking, as the actual test specification varies depending on the proposed clinical use and the testing can always be checked later using a testing segment of the stored cells.


In the case of sibling transplantation, individuals have 25 per cent chance of having a sibling who is HLA matched.

No. After cord blood and/or tissue is collected at birth, the samples are delivered, processed, and stored in the Smart Cells UK laboratory. If you ever need the cord blood or tissue for therapy, the product will be shipped in a constant temperature monitored frozen state in a special container designed for the purpose of international cell shipment. Cord blood can travel anywhere in the world with no loss of viability because it travels frozen. It is only thawed at the clinic where it will be used immediately prior to infusion. Smart Cells have successfully shipped samples within the UK and to Europe, USA, India, and the Far East.

Most UK and international cord blood banks, both public and private, process cord blood to reduce levels of the plasma and the red cells, and cryo-preserve the remaining buffy coat portion which contains mononuclear cells. This mononuclear cell fraction contains the critical CD34 positive stem cells. It is valid for cord blood storage banks to use volume reduction techniques as such units are clinically preferable to whole blood, red cell replete products. This is based on large cohorts of international data from respected and accredited transplant centres who use cord blood regularly as a therapeutic tool. The plasma and red cells in cord blood are not deemed to be useful clinically. By reducing the volume of the sample, while retaining the critical stem cells, it is possible to minimise the volume of cryoprotectant solution required in the freezing process. The cryoprotectant contains a substance called DMSO that can cause reactions in patients so it is sensible to reduce the volume as much as possible.


The reduction of red blood cell content is very important as it is well recognised that red blood cells burst or lyse during the freezing process. This results in release of free haemoglobin and red cell debris which can cause complications to patients at the time of infusion.


There are whole cord blood units in-store that was mostly banked before preference for volume reduction became a factor and some of these are used for transplantation if there is no better match available in the volume-reduced format. Under these circumstances, key worldwide organisations which issue standards of practice recommend washing the units to remove lysed red blood cell material to avoid clinical complications. However, this can result in the loss of some stem cells.


Information taken from the following sources:

The Joint Accreditation Committee-ISCT (Europe) & EBMT (JACIE) : The Hematopoietic Cellular Therapy Accreditation Manual 6th Edition which accompanies the FACT-JACIE International Standards for Hematopoietic Cellular Therapy Product Collection, Processing, and Administration.

The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), ( USA)

Transfusion. 2012 Jan; 52(1): 207–208

The Circular of Information for the use of cellular therapy products (AABB publication) http://www.aabb.org/aabbcct/coi/Pages/default.aspx Ballen et al. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015 Apr; 21(4): 688–695.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359657/#!po=0.617284

The majority of maternity hospitals allow Smart Cells to perform this service for you. If you would like to discuss your individual hospital, then please contact the Smart Cells.

No. If you have a Caesarean the collection can take place after the delivery of the placenta, as it would with a natural birth. Either birthing scenario is fine for the collection of cord blood and cord tissue stem cells.

No. Cord blood and tissue collection is painless, convenient, and safe for both mother and new-born. The cord blood and tissue samples are collected after your baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. The samples collected are normally discarded after birth as medical waste.

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