Why should I store my cells now, instead of later in life?
Assuming you’re a healthy individual, your cells are at their strongest right now. At Cell Vault, we offer you a chance to bank your cells – specifically your peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) – when they’re most plentiful and viable. Your PBMCs include not only your t-cells, which makes up a majority of your collection, but also includes NK cells, B cells, and stem cells. And with each passing year, your body sees a decrease in the number and viability of these cells. Thus, it behooves you to bank your cells at the earliest possible moment.
What's the minimum age?
You must be 13 years or older on the day of the blood draw in order to cryo-preserve your cells with Cell Vault. Anyone under the age of 18 requires a parent or guardian present.
What's a mobile phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is an individual who’s licensed to conduct blood draws. We’ve partnered with the largest mobile phlebotomy company in the nation with over 6,000 phlebotomists in their network. Once your kit is ordered, we reach out to schedule an in-home or in-office blood draw, to be conducted at your convenience between 7AM and 4PM, Monday through Thursday.
What cells are you cryo-preserving?
We spin down your blood and ultimately cryo-preserve your PBMCs (peripheral blood mononuclear cells). These include your t-cells, NK-cells, b-cells, and stem cells.
How long can my cells be safely stored for?
Your cells can be stored for many years, although we don’t know the exact length of time. Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, the scientist who invented some of the standard protocols for banking cord blood, has thawed cord blood that was cryopreserved more than 23 years and found the recovery of viable stem cells undiminished by time. Additionally, a report from www.bloodjournal.org, evaluated the recovery of stem cells after nearly 24 years. Results showed that there was a highly efficient recovery (80%- 100%). Time and further studies will continue to shed light on this area of science. Should studies show that there is a maximum amount of time that cells can be stored, we will promptly alert our customers and update all existing storage plans to include an expiration date that reflects the newly-recommended timeframe.
How many times can my cells be used? Can I use just a portion of them?
The amount of times you can use your stored cells is dependent on which cells you need and how many of those cells are needed for the specific use We do split your final collection into 5 separate vials, so you can access just a portion of your cells, if needed.
Can my final collection be used immediately in a cellular therapy, like CAR-T or are other steps required?
There are many steps that have to take place before your cells could be used in a cellular therapy treatment including, but not limited to: cryo-shipping your cells to a qualified health care professional, having the cells thawed and separated from the PBMC level, transducing and expanding the cells, analyzing the cells for their efficacy and viability, receiving approval to move forward with the use of your cells, and so on. All of these steps present risks and unknowns and Cell Vault cannot guarantee that your cells will be useable at all. However, we would rather you have access to those cells, should you want them, then risking the alternative: waiting to a point where you need your cells, only to learn there aren’t enough to collect for a successful treatment.
Is Cell Vault's collection and cryopreservation process FDA-approved? Is Cell Vault exploring partnerships with CAR-T manufacturers?
While we work with an FDA-accredited lab for kit production / distribution and cellular processing / cryopreservation, our process for collection and cryopreservation has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for cellular therapy use. We are engaging in conversations with CAR-T manufacturing companies with the goal of eventually having our offering approved – specifically the collection and cryopreservation of healthy, strong, viable cells – for use within their CAR-T manufacturing processes. As we are the first-ever commercial t-cell bank, we’re hopeful that our efforts to collect and preserve healthy, strong cells will ultimately lead to fewer deaths and a higher success rate of CAR-T treatments.
Is this process foolproof? Will it ensure that I can beat cancer in the future? Will my physician be able to use my cells?
No, unfortunately we have no way to guarantee that your cells will be used in a successful treatment. We cannot make any promises on the efficacy, functionality, or strength of the t-cells that you cryo-preserve. We also can’t guarantee that your physician will be able to use the cells, even if they are of viable use. That said, by banking the strongest version of your cells early, we hope to give you a fighting chance, should they be able to be used. And by banking with Cell Vault, you at least have access to a set of younger cells that have the potential to save your life.
Is this service available outside of the USA?
Right now, Cell Vault only offers banking in the United States.
What's the process? How do I actually bank my t-cells?
Check out our How It Works page for more info. Once you order your kit, we schedule a phlebotomist to complete a 5-minute blood draw in your home or office. The phlebotomist then overnights your kit to our lab, where your blood is spun down to the final sample collection. We then store this collection until you reach out to us, asking for the collection to be disposed of or sent to a medical professional.
How much blood is collected?
We collect 50 mLs – or 5 vials – of blood. In comparison, when an individual donates a pint of blood, blood centers collect 525 mLs of blood – more than 10x the amount we’re collecting.
What exactly do you mean by cryo-preserve / cryo-store / cryo-freeze?
Cryo-preservation is the use of very low temperatures (below -190°C) to preserve structurally intact living cells and tissues.
What days / times can I schedule my appointment?
We can conduct a blood draw – in most locations – between 8AM and 4PM Monday through Thursday. We cannot conduct a blood draw on Friday, as your blood needs to be overnighted to our partner lab and our lab is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
What if I need to change the day or time of my blood draw appointment?
We require 48 hours notice to change or modify your blood draw appointment. Changes made after 48 hours will incur a $90 cancellation fee.
How does the blood get from my home/office to your lab?
Your collection will be overnighted using FedEx in a temperature-regulated kit for priority delivery the next morning.
Is my blood safe during shipping?
Our FDA-registered lab has built a return kit that includes temperature-regulating packs to keep the blood at ambient temperatures during the shipment process.
How do I know that my sample is safe in storage?
We alert you once your sample is frozen at our partner lab. The lab is FDA-registered and CAP/CLIA certified under the Biorepository Accreditation Program. This certification requires stringent controls, multiple backup generators, and redundant alarm and temperature monitoring systems. With millions of samples under its care, our partner lab is trusted by some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and the National Institute of Health (NIH). Rest assured that your collection is safely secured with 24-hour around-the-clock monitoring in place.
How do I retrieve or dispose of my sample?
If you’d like to retrieve your sample, you can give us a call and we will coordinate with a medical professional for transport of the sample. If you’d like to dispose of your sample, you can submit a request via your customer portal.
Is there a storage fee?
Yes there is a fee to store your sample. The fee varies depending on the package chosen, as some customers pay annually, whereas others pre-pay for longer storage timeframes.
What happens if I miss a payment?
If you miss a payment, we will still safely store your sample for 180 days. After 180 days, we reserve the right to dispose of or take ownership of your sample.
Is there a fee if I cancel and need to reschedule my blood draw appointment?
If you cancel more than 48 hours before your appointment, then there is no fee to reschedule. If you cancel within 48 hours or less, then there is a $90 cancellation fee. The fee is a pass-through fee that Cell Vault incurs from our phlebotomy partner whenever a customer cancels in under 48 hours.
Is there a fee to retrieve or dispose of my sample?
Cell Vault does not charge a fee to retrieve your sample; however, you would be responsible for shipment costs of the sample to your chosen medical professional. The fee for disposal of your sample is $100.
If my cells are requested from my physician and I am unable to use them, will I receive a refund?
Yes, we will fully refund you for the storage and collection costs incurred if your cells are requested by a health care professional for a life-saving treatment and are unable to be used.