Immune bank cell storage to fight cancer

London: A UK company has opened up a cell “bank” that stores an individual’s immune cells for use against any future illness such as cancer.

Lifeforce Immune System Bank, which is already operating after receiving the regulatory approval of the UK’s Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It already has 170 customers who have paid the initial £ 395 together with the £12 monthly storage charge.

Stem cells from their baby’s umbilical cord are already stored by some parents for use in case of future illness. But the idea behind the bank in Wales is that white blood cells which have been stored in liquid nitrogen at minus 200c can be reactivated and returned to the body via a drip.

White blood cell treatment is already a recognised way of treating cancer in America, where it is being used for melanoma, liver, kidney and lung cancers.

A recent US study on the therapy showed that two out of 15 patients with melanoma treated with adoptive immunotherapy remained diseasefree two years later — despite having been given just weeks to live.

Currently, white blood cells used in immunotherapy are collected from patients after they have fallen ill and are therefore of inferior quality.

But with the immune system bank, healthy people can have their cells collected and stored — the theory being that these cells will be even more effective fighting diseases such as cancer.

The bank is the brainchild of Dr Alison Davies, a respiratory physiologist from South Wales, who set it up with Professor Bradley Stringer, a specialist in bone cell therapy at Cardiff University.

The bank uses the same kind of collection procedure as the National Blood Service. Blood is taken from the donor and put in a centrifuge, where it is separated into three constituents — plasma, red cells and white cells.

Although immunotherapy is still a relatively new science, the American Cancer Society states that it is now recognised as the fourth way of treating cancer (the others are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy).

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