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Question:

From Amarillo, Texas, USA:

We have read in the paper about stem cells being harvested from baby teeth. My son is five years old and has type 1 diabetes. He will start to lose his baby teeth in the next year. We have contacted a company called BioEden, which will accept his teeth and harvest stem cells from them, then freeze them for future use. Or, this is what they say. Is this a reputable company?

Is this technology sufficiently advanced to make it a high, medium, or low risk investment? It costs $600 so we don't want to do it if it's a bogus agency.

Answer:

Strictly from the viewpoint of a non-medical professional, in my opinion, I would hesitate in enrolling in the BioEden program. First, the technology is not yet shown to provide widespread medical benefits. A study reported on by the American Dental Association points out that while harvesting of stem cells from baby teeth is a technology that is now available, years of research are ahead before it can be shown what benefits would result from the harvesting and storage of such cells. The article points out the difficulty in harvesting viable cells from such teeth when they are left in the child's mouth to loosen gradually and fall out naturally.

Other scientists are quite skeptical of the value of such material in light of the high cost being charged to harvest and store the material. I am also concerned about the vendor, BioEden. Their web site does not list any accreditations or clinical affiliations that I would expect to see from such an entity. For example, many of the cord blood storage facilities are affiliated with nationally accredited blood banks or university health centers. In addition, the cost structure is unusual. According to the BioEden web site, the initial fee is $600 fee and you must pay $89 annually to keep the sample frozen. What happens to your child's material if they go out of business? What additional fees are there for transfer to a medical institution for growing the sample into viable cells? In my experience, young medical technologies like these are the subject of established medical study in which the research institution does not charge a fee to study participants. I think too many questions are yet unanswered.

DSH

DTQ-20060810193154
Original posting 28 Aug 2006
Posted to Other and Research: Cure

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:10:08
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