ORINDA (KPIX 5) — There are people who will do just about anything to try and live a longer, healthier life. They will try extreme dieting, bio-hacking, or they’ll take vitamins and supplements. The latest trend may be banking their stem cells.
A company called Forever Labs is helping people do just that. The hope is that one day, patients can have their stem cells injected back into their bodies to fight or prevent disease, ultimately helping them live longer.
KPIX 5 was there when 55-year-old Kevin Perrott underwent his procedure with Dr. Chad Roghair at Cal Sports and Orthopaedic Institute in Orinda. It is a one-time collection from a small sample of bone marrow. It is an out-patient procedure and lasts about 15 minutes.
Dr. Roghair uses ultrasound because he says it helps make the procedure more precise, quicker and less painful for the patient.
“I wanted to get the cells that I have in my bone marrow banked as quickly as possible, because I should have done this 30 years ago,” said Perrott.
Perrott, a Novato resident, is one of hundreds of people in the Bay Area who have used Forever Labs to freeze their stem cells. The company operates in 12 states and says the Bay Area is its biggest market.
“As you age, you lose these cells, and the ones that remain become damaged and less effective,” said Forever Labs CEO Steven Clausnitzer. “It’s a huge problem, it’s one of the reasons we age, and you’re going to want to have access to your own cells later in life, because they’re being used in over a thousand clinical trials in humans.”
The procedure costs $5,000 under the lifetime storage plan, or $750 dollars upfront and $250 every year to cover the storage.
“It’s very much like insurance, because we now have the capacity to do these things fairly easily, pain free, the technologies are there,” said Perrott.
The FDA has not yet approved potential therapies that would use such samples. Forever Labs says several clinical trials studying cardiovascular disease and stroke are already in their final phases.
“These aren’t some fringe diseases that are being treated with these cells,” said Clausnitzer. “We are confident that certainly within my lifetime, we’ll be using these cells to treat those things right here in the United States.”
Dr. Arnold Kriegstein has been leading stem cell research at UCSF for the last 15 years.
“The only data so far is in animals, it is still very controversial and it’s unclear if any of this will translate to people,” he said. “So the idea that you can actually bank on this literally…is just based on hope and a prayer.”
Dr. Roghair works with Forever Labs and has practiced regenerative medicine techniques for the last six years.
“Big breakthroughs are made from people who are forward thinking and innovators,” said Dr. Roghair. “I think this is a new science and there [is] tremendous potential.”
Forever Labs says the average age of its patients is between 35 and 55.
The company, which launched in 2016, has raised more than $3 million in funding.