Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the services offered at Lifeline?
- Where are the samples stored?
- Who is responsible for the collection of umbilical cord blood and/or tissue?
- What do I need to do in order to acquire the Life-Kit (collection box)?
- Should labour take place late at night or on a public holiday is there something I should do?
- What is the umbilical cord blood?
- Why are the umbilical cord blood stem cells unique?
- What are the future potentials of haematopoetic stem cells?
- Why is it that at Liifeline the umbilical cord blood doesn’t get cryopreserved at two separate locations?
- What is the Umbilical Cord Tissue?
- Why are the umbilical cord tissue mesenchymal stem cells considered to be special?
- What are the uses of Mesenchymal stem cells and what are their potentials in Regenerative Medicine?
- What is it, which makes the endothelial progenitor stem cells special?
- What are the potentials of endothelial stem cells in regenerative medicine?
- What are Lifeline’s advantages in the cryostorage of umbilical cord tissue?
- Why choose Lifeline?
- How come certain samples get rejected following their evaluation at Lifeline?
- Are there any differences between public donation and family banking?
- Could someone use my child’s sample(s) without my knowledge?
- Beyond Lifeline personnel who else has access to my personal information?
- What is the validity of the client agreement?
- What will be the cost of renewing the storage agreement once the twenty years have elapsed?
- What will happen to my child’s sample in the event where Lifeline goes bankrupt?
1. What are the services offered at Lifeline?
Lifeline has been offering young families since 2002 the umbilical cord blood processing and cryostorage services whereas recently in 2010 the umbilical cord tissue service. Parents may choose merely one service (the umbilical cord blood service), or two services (the umbilical cord blood and tissue services).
2. Where are the samples stored?
The processing and cryostorage of samples are performed in the state- of- the- art facilities of Lifeline’s laboratory in Cyprus. The laboratory team receives and processes the samples almost immediately (many times a few hours following birth) something which satisfies the agony of new parents regarding maximum cell viability.
3. Who is responsible for the collection of umbilical cord blood and/or tissue?
The umbilical cord blood and tissue collection is performed by the obstetrician or by a well trained midwife in the maternity ward. The procurement is performed post birth without any contact to the newborn. The obstetricians are informed of the collection procedure whereas the consumables for the samples’ collection are included in the Life-Kit (collection box) which you can get at Lifeline.
4. What do I need to do in order to acquire the Life-Kit (collection box)?
Following communication with Lifeline, on the phone (7777 2000) or via e-mail you may if you wish, set up a consultation appointment for briefing on the umbilical cord blood and or tissue services. The appointment is of a purely briefing nature and is by no means binding but aims in an in-depth education of future parents. In the event, where parents choose to enrol, they will be provided with the Life-Kit which will be subsequently handed over to their obstetritian for their samples’ collection. Upon client registration and purchase of the Life-Kit parents pay the amount of 85.00 euro.
5. Should labour take place late at night or on a public holiday is there something I should do?
Lifeline receives units of blood and tissue seven days a week, 365 days a year. In the event where labour takes place late at night there is no need to alarm yourselves since the Life-Kit is manufactured of a thermally insulated material appropriate for the preservation of biological samples whilst at the same time it ensures the continuous recording of temperatures. As a result the Life-Kit maintains the proper temperarure thus consequently the integrity of the sample’s stem cells is safeguarded during their short overnight stay at the clinic up until their arrival at Lifeline’s laboratory in the morning.
6. What is the umbilical cord blood?
The umbilical cord blood is that amount of blood which remains in the newborn’s umbilical cord after the infant’s birth. The haematopoetic stem cells contained in the umbilical cord can be used in medical therapies in post chemotherapy treatments for the building of a whole new immune system and could be applied as an alternative graft just as in the case of bone marrow grafts.
7. Why are the umbilical cord blood stem cells unique?
The umbilical cord blood stem cells are haematopoetic stem cells similar to the stem cells of the bone marrow which are entirely necessary to the human body since they produce our blood:
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body
- White blood cells, which compose our immune system
- Platelets, which assist in the clotting of blood
Graft compatibility between patient and recipient is a prerequisite for the transplantation of bone marrow. The umbilical cord blood can be applied as an alternative graft since it can be used with partial compatibility whereas at the same time it is:
- Readily available to the family
- Tested for its safe transfusion
The umbilical cord stem cells, when compared to the adult bone marrow stem cells are comparatively younger more versatile while they haven’t been exposed to factors such as diseases or the environment. In the last twenty years doctors have been using the umbilical cord blood in the treatment of various diseases whereas in the past, only grafts from the bone marrow would be used.
8. What are the future potentials of haematopoetic stem cells?
The umbilical cord blood stem cells are used in the medical treatment of serious diseases such as leukaemia and other types of cancers. Furthermore, clinical researches have given positive feedback on the use of cord blood for the treatment of diseases which are nowadays considered to be incurable. This new field is called regenerative medicine and experts examine the use of cord blood on experimental treatments like brain injury loss of hearing vision impairment spinal cord injury etc.
9. Why is it that at Liifeline the umbilical cord blood doesn’t get cryopreserved at two separate locations?
Lifeline, like the vast majority of accredited blood banks worldwide abiding to the international standards, cryostores its samples in one place (location) but in two inseparable - sections (image). The basic parameter in following this practice is the fact that each unit is destined for a single application only, due to the limited number of stem cells it contains. If one sample is dissociated in two distinct segments and the need arises for its use in a transplant, both parts will have to be used by the transplant center. In most cases half of the quantity doesn’t suffice. One should contemplate that the majority of units which are cryosaved at Lifeline would have been rejected for banking, had they contained only half of the quantity of the stem cells necessary for cryostorage.
Furthermore, Lifeline’s current cryostorage practice ensures:
- Provision of quality services
- Guaranteeing of samples’ traceability
- Saving of maximum cells at thawing and during washing prior to application on a graft
- Cryostorage of umbilical cord blood in two separate sections facilitates scientists with multiplication of cells if deemed necessary prior to application
10. What is the Umbilical Cord Tissue?
The tissue is a section (piece) of the umbilical cord from which two distinct cellular therapy products can be obtained, each one containing mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor stem cells. Lifeline has created and uses a unique method of processing through which the isolation and the separate banking of these two types of stem cells derived from the umbilical cord tissue is succeeded. In 2010 Lifeline was awarded the Cyprus Innovation Award in the field of services for the scientific methodology it applies in the processing of the umbilical cord tissue.
11. Why are the umbilical cord tissue mesenchymal stem cells considered to be special?
During an individual’s lifetime the mesenchymal stem cells may be found in various parts of the human body acting as “nurse cells” and in particular:
- help and support the blood producing mechanism of the bone marrow
- trigger the body’s repair mechanism
- differentiate in almost all types of body cells
The mesenchymal stem cells derived from the umbilical cord tissue are even more special because even though they possess the above properties they also appear to have the following advantages:
- They are younger (they are merely nine months of age at cryopreservation/freezing)
- They don’t have a long term exposure to the environment or the chain of food and consequently, they have a lower exposure to harmful external factors (e.g.diseases as well as environmental conditions such as different forms of energy etc)
As young stem cells of merely 9 months of age they preserve the capability of differentiating in other types of stem cells with greater flexibility, greater versatility and they get to multiply faster when compared to equivalent stem cells derived from other sources such as that of the bone marrow.
12. What are the uses of Mesenchymal stem cells and what are their potentials in Regenerative Medicine?
The Mesenchymal Stem Cells have been coinfused in Haematopoetic Stem Cell transplantations. Researchers have proved that Mesenchymal Stem cells subhelp in a transplantation:
- By reinforcing the absorption of the graft in the recipient’s bone marrow.
- By controlling the reaction of the recipient’s stem cells against the graft, in other words the rejection of the graft
At the same time the positive outcome from researches and therapeutic applications has led to the expansion of researches in the treatment of other serious diseases such as:
- Cardiac muscle restoration following a heart attack
- Applications for the treatment of diabetes Type I and diabetes Type II
- Tissue engineering of skin and connective tissue
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
In January 2013, 500 approved clinical trials using mesenchymal stem cells were underway a number of which (300) concerned cells obtained from umbilical cord tissue.
13. What is it, which makes the endothelial progenitor stem cells special?
The endothelial progenitor stem cells (endothelial stem cells) are a population of cells which circulate in the blood and have the capability of producing endothelial stem cells which in turn compose the texture of the epithelial layer e.g. the blood vessels or the lungs of the human body. The endothelial stem cells basically make up the circulatory system from the heart to the tiniest blood vessel. The progenitor endothelial cells of the umbilical cord tissue are considered to be extraordinarily special since they play a vital role in regeneration (the creation of blood vessels).
14. What are the potentials of endothelial stem cells in regenerative medicine?
The endothelial stem cells are another type of cells which can be found in the umbilical cord tissue and in specific in the vein as well as in the arteries. Researchers have demonstrated that they play a significant role in regeneration and the reconstruction of tissue of:
- The heart
- The brain
- The skin
15. What are Lifeline’s advantages in the cryostorage of umbilical cord tissue?
The umbilical cord tissue processing is performed by a pioneering method for which Lifeline was awarded with the 2010 Cyprus Innovation Award. Lifeline is the first tissue bank worldwide which separates and cryosaves separately the Mesenchymal Stem Cells from the endothelial cells a methodology which offers clear advantages as opposed to existing practices such as:
- banking of individual cells rather than chopped sections of tissue
- possible individual use of all types of cells according to the recipient’s future needs
- the cryopreservation of individual stem cells rather than chopped tissue offers better cryopreservation conditions with more viable cells at thawing
- the processing and tissue dissociation in individual cells is performed with the use of chemical additives/substances
(It’s worthwhile noticing that the release of tissue in individual cells may also be achieved through other practices but the dissociation procedure is carried out with the use of foreign substances to the individual without anyone’s real knowledge as to the real consequences of the use of these substances in the stem cells biological activity. Lifeline with its state of the art technology succeeds in the separate banking of mesenchymal and endothelial stem cells derived from the umbilical cord tissue in their purest form)
16. Why choose Lifeline?
- Accredited with AABB International Standards
- A novel Life-Kit for more viable cells during transit
- Processing of units of blood with the use of the automated Sepax technology
- Innovative tissue processing protocol for the cryostorage of two distinct cellular therapy products
- Laboratory bears a CYS EN ISO 15189:2007 accreditation as well as other external quality controls carried out by individual organization
- Detailed Storage Certificate for each service (Cord blood certificate/ Cord tissue certificate)
- Financially safe & sound family bank
17. How come certain samples get rejected following their evaluation at Lifeline?
The aim at Lifeline is the cryostorage of quality cellular therapy products hence the rejection of samples at processing by the laboratory which do not abide by the minimum quality standards. Statistically 10% of the samples are found unsuitable for banking. The most usual causes of samples’ rejection are:
- Small number of stem cells which would neither suffice for a potential application nor for multiplication
- Low cell viability (the number of live stem cells is insufficient thus approval of storage is denied)The sample’s storage is rejected due to the lack of viable stem cells
- Bacterial infection
- Presence of viral infection
18. Are there any differences between public donation and family banking?
By choosing a public bank the units are donated for public use. Once a transplantation center claims a client’s sample deemed necessary for the transplantation of HSC’s those samples which were donated to public banks are at the disposal of transplant centers and in particular to all patients through the worldwide donor registry.Only 30-to 50 % of all samples donated to the public banks may eventually proceed to cryostorage whereas the rest are rejected due to poor quality units standards and restricted financial means. When choosing family banking the family applies and purchases the service whereby the units are cryopreserved for the family’s sole exclusive use. (The units belong to the family)
19. Could someone use my child’s sample(s) without my knowledge?
Lifeline can release the sample(s) only through the parents or guardians written consent and following a written release application/petition by an accredited medical center. The regulations of the existing legislation as well as the accredited standards of the AABB organization followed by Lifeline ensure the proper release procedure as well as the correct use of stem cells in a transplant.
20. Beyond Lifeline personnel who else has access to my personal information?
The personal information of families who put their trust in us is handled by all Lifeline personnel according to the rules and regulations of the Cypriot legislation on data protection. Learn more on the code of ethics which is followed by all staff at Lifeline.
21. What is the validity of the client agreement?
The storage agreement is valid for a twenty year period. As with regards to the agreement the child is recognized as the legal beneficiary and his/her parents as the common guardians. Once the child is of legal age following the first twenty years the agreement can be renewed this time in the child’s name. Lifeline also offers the option whereby following the processing and the storage of units parents get to pay the cost of cryostorage fees on an annual basis.
22. What will be the cost of renewing the storage agreement once the twenty years have elapsed?
Clinical testing is carried out once, upon a sample’s reception at the laboratory. Once the initial twenty year period has exceeded only the cryostorage fees will have to be paid which today make up approximately half of the total price of the cryostorage fees.
23.What will happen to my child’s sample in the event where Lifeline goes bankrupt?
Lifeline was established in 2002 and is worldwide one of the first family banks which was set up for the cryopreservation of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood and tissue. The processing and cryopreservation services offered at Lifeline are covered by professional indemnity insurance; the later is directly linked to the company’s financial stability. According to Cypriot legislation and the E.U. directives, Lifeline has entered an agreement with another tissue establishment which has the relevant license for the provision of cryopreservation services with the ultimate goal of continuing to provide the aforesaid agreements in such a remote instance. (Family bank goes bankrupt)We refer to this event as remote because apart from the above mentioned agreements, a provision is made for each unit cryopreserved at Lifeline for its future cryostorage.