December 11, 2008
There’s an old novelty hit that goes, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” This year the song might run, “All I want for Christmas is my own stem cells" – at least if StemSave
, two new cryopreservation companies, have their way.
Scientists have recently discovered that inside healthy teeth there are caches of stem cells – those cells that can naturally repair any organ because they can grow into almost any body part: heart, lung, nerves, etc. According to the New York Times, “Cells collected from a person could one day be used to treat that person without immune system rejection.” BioEden takes it even further with their slogan, ‘One day, the Tooth Fairy could save your child’s life’!
What both companies seek to do is make banking valuable stem cells convenient and affordable. The next time you or your child have a tooth pulled, make sure your dentist is ready to whisk it to a lab (in a patented transport system, of course) where the cells inside can be extracted and cryogenically frozen. Affordable, though, is not the same thing as cheap. StemSave’s enrollment and processing fee is $590 (BioEden’s is similar) and both charge service fees of close to $100 for the first year– and every year thereafter.
On its website, however, StemSave touts itself as the perfect gift, so perhaps the best course of action is to include it in your letter to Santa and see what happens. (Or maybe just suggest it to a doting, and wealthy, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend.) Stem cells may not generate the immediate excitement of a new toy, but they are a gift that may prove more and more valuable as the years go by.