What are stem cells?

Stem cells are those cells that have not “specialized” yet – they are not differentiated into a specific, final function yet. In other words, they are “joker cells”, and this particular characteristic makes them extremely precious, since they can potentially “repair” damaged organs and tissues.

How to get the stem cells stored at SSCB back?

Stem cells stored at SSCB are owned by the depositor, or - as long as they are minors - by who exercises their parental authority.
If the stem cells are to be used for a particular therapy, SSCB will immediately make the sample available to the legitimate owner at no extra cost. It is understood that the costs of transportation from the bank to the hospital where they should be used, and which may also be in another continent, will be at customer's charge.

Can the stem cells preserved at SSCB be used more than once?

No. By the present state of knowledge, the amount of stem cells that can be obtained from an umbilical cord does not allow this possibility.

What if another family member needs the stem cells?

Stem cells stored at SSCB are owned by the depositor, or - as long as they are minors - by who exercises their parental authority. Only the owner decides how to use his stem cells, so there is no contractual impediment to the possible use of cells for the benefit of a relative. However, impediments may result from cell compatibility between donor and recipient, which is more likely to be among members of the same family than with an external donor.

How do you reach compatibility?

Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord blood are 100 percent compatible only with a monozygotic donor's twin.
Compatibility - in this case, it refers to histocompatibility - is inherited and therefore decreases in terms of probability by widening the parental radius. Histocompatibility is established by a HLA typing test (Human Leukocyte Antigens, is a first level assessment, called “basic typing“, for which a blood sampling is sufficient).
If a donor-recipient identity is found, the typing is extended to DNA analysis and ultimately to the MLC (MLC) performance that definitively demonstrates compatibility. The compatibility assessment does not imply thawing the cell sample.

What happens at the end of the contract?

The term storage has been determined in relation to be considered reasonably safe in relation to today's knowledge and technology.
At the end of the contract term, SSCB Customer Service will contact the legitimate owner of the sample (who by then will be an adult), who will decide whether to continue with the storage at SSCB, or will request that the sample be destroyed or donated to research.

Are there any cases in which it is not possible to collect blood?

In the event of complications during delivery, the medical team will stop any procedure not intended to protect the health and safety of both mother and child. This could understandably mean preventing the collection of umbilical cord blood.

What needs to be done in case of twin births?

In the event of twin births, it is necessary to use two collection kits, provided by SSCB after registering to the service. It is thus of fundamental importance to specify, when registering, that it is a twin pregnancy.

Is it possible to collect umbilical cord blood in case of a Caesarean birth?

Yes, it is. Umbilical cord blood can generally be collected also in the event of a Caesarean birth.

How is transportation from hospital to SSCB laboratory carried out?

The cord blood sample must be transported properly packaged in a dedicated transportation kit supplied by SSCB.
The transportation kit complies with the IATA PI 650 procedure, the international standard for sending and transporting diagnostic samples and biological material.

Who handles the transportation?

The cord blood sample transportation from the place where the baby is born to the SSCB laboratory is managed directly by SSCB through a dedicated courier that guarantees the delivery of samples to the laboratory in time for the processing phase.

What is the time limit for the blood sample to reach the laboratory?

The FACT-Netcord directives establish that cord blood samples must undergo the separation procedure within 72 hours after the birth.

Are there different types of stem cells?

There are basically two different types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells are those found in an early-stage embryo, about one week old. Science currently considers them to be very interesting, but their use poses serious ethical problems, since their extraction entails the destruction of the embryo.
Adult stem cells are found in some of our organs and tissues generally see to the regeneration of the organ or tissue where they are present.

Is there a reimbursement in case of no stem cell's storage?

Yes, the reimbursement is always guaranteed, but an amount to cover the costs incurred by SSCB will be deducted from the amount paid in advance.
The amount retained changes depending on when the service is interrupted. Call SSCB International Customer Service for more information.

What is included in the price, what is excluded?

The following services are included in the price:

  • information support
  • shipment of the umbilical cord collection and transport kit
  • service of birth announcement active 24/7
  • delivery of the kit from the hospital where the birth takes place to SSCB laboratory by dedicated courier
  • laboratory analysis on the cord blood sample and on the venous blood sample, taken at the same time as the cord blood
  • sample treatment to obtain separation and isolation of stem cells
  • sending to the customer the certifications for processing, analysis and storage
  • storage for 20/25 years of stem cells
  • free counselling on ongoing clinical trials

There are no annual fees or unexpected expenses.

Are there any risks involved in the collection of umbilical cord blood?

Collecting umbilical cord blood is easy, quick and totally painless, and poses no threat to the health of either mother or newborn.
The procedure is carried out by the obstetrics staff present in the delivery room following the guidelines provided with the documents in the kit.

What type of stem cells are umbilical cord stem cells?

Stem cells found in considerable concentration in umbilical cord blood at the moment of delivery are adult stem cells. Therefore, there is no moral barrier to their use for therapeutic applications and research.

Are there any other sources of stem cells?

Yes, there are – the bone marrow, for instance, but compared to umbilical cord stem cells, bone marrow stem cells are less versatile and harder to extract.

What diseases can be treated today with stem cells?

There are numerous pathologies for which the benefits of the use of haematopoietic stem cells are scientifically proven.
Here is the list:

  1. Medullary Aplasia
  2. Acute Myeloid and Lymphoid Leukemias
  3. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
  4. Myelofibrosis with Myeloid Metaplasia
  5. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas
  6. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  7. Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia
  8. Myelodysplasia
  9. Multiple Myeloma
  10. Neuroblastoma
  11. Soft Tissue Sarcoma
  12. Congenital errors:
    • Primary Immunodeficiencies
    • Congenital diseases
    • Lysosomal disorders
    • Non-lysosomal disorders

The scientific community periodically reviews such indications, based on the medical history and the results of clinical trials.

Why store umbilical cord blood stem cells for autologous use?

Because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “set aside” one’s stem cells prior to a possible and ill-fated onset of a disease. It is obviously advantageous to have one’s stem cells available when needed to face a therapy that entails stem cell transplantation. The mere fact of not having to look for a donor and avoiding any risk of rejection or infection broadly justifies this choice.

In the event that the stem cells are needed for a transplant in Italy, will it be difficult to re-import the sample from Switzerland?

Absolutely not. The importation of umbilical cord stem cells in Italy is subject to prior authorization by the Ministry of Health, as required by the Ministerial Order of 4 May 2007 by the Ministry of Health (Article 3) and in compliance with the requirements of Annex 3 to Ministerial Decree of 7 September 2000.
The article 5 of the abovementioned Decree of 7 September 2000, entitled 'Provisions on the import and export of human blood and its products for therapeutic, prophylactic and diagnostic use', states that 'The authorization of importation of blood, blood components of haematopoietic stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells intended for transplantation, is released from time to time by the Ministry of Health [...] in compliance with the requirements set out in Annex 3'.
According to Annex 3, requesting the authorization to the Ministry is a responsibility of the doctor responsible for the hospital structure in which the transplant will take place. The physician responsible for the hospital hematologic structure at which the patient is being treated or the physician responsible for the transfusion hospital structure, each for their own competence, must submit a specific request to obtain the authorization from which it results:

  • the number of containers labeled according to the procedure defined by the protocol formulated by the service manager, including the date of each withdrawal and the manner of storage;
  • search test for antigen and antibodies for infectious agents that are in danger of being infected with blood for blood donors and the indication of the value of ALT;
  • immunohematological controls on the donor;
  • country of destination or origin;
  • receiving healthcare facility;
  • date of transport;
  • border crossing.

In addition, for the purpose of granting authorization, the information specified above must be completed with:

  • generality of the patient(s);
  • immunohematologic controls on the receiver.”

Neither the various ordinances nor the Decree refer to a different procedure if the country from which stem cells are imported is not part of the European Union.

Are particular authorizations are needed?

Yes. If the delivery takes place in Italy, to export umbilical cord blood, it is necessary to obtain a permission from the hospital's Health Department where the delivery will take place. If needed, SSCB Customer Service provides its customers with assistance and instructions on how to obtain the necessary authorization in a short time.

Why rely on a Swiss Bank? And why SSCB?

Because a structure that is committed to preserve for at least 20 years your baby's stem cells must offer guarantees of reliability and solidity, just like a Swiss bank.
Because the sample must arrive quickly at the laboratories and SSCB’s headquartes are in a protected and supervised facility 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, just a few miles from the Italian border.
SSCB offers information, clarifications, instructions and forms in four different languages.

Doesn’t a similar facility exist in Italy?

No. In Italy there is no possibility of conserving umbilical cord blood for personal use, because Italian law prohibits the establishment of private banks providing such a service, monopolized by the public donation bank network.
In these facilities, cord blood donated for allogeneic purposes, or intended for hypothetical transplantation, is stored to treat other people, not the person whose cells were crioconserved. Italian law also provides, in the same facilities, conservation for 'dedicated' use, that is, for the infant or for a family member who has a disease for which it is appropriate to use stem cells from cord blood, or in the case of families at high risk of having further children with particular genetic diseases.

Must the birth take pace in Switzerland?

Absolutely not. The child can be delivered in any hospital in Italy and then the sample collected in the delivery room will be exported to Switzerland. In fact, Italian law, while banning the establishment of private banks for the autologous storage of stem cells in Italy, nevertheless allows the export of umbilical cord blood.

How to subscribe to a SSCB service?

Once they have agreed to join the SSCB service, the future parents must apply for the contract and return it signed together with the duly completed membership form. In the following days, they will receive the kit for the collection of umbilical cord blood.
At the time of the hospitalization, remember to take the kit with you and hand it over to the person responsible for the collection. The blood is taken immediately after birth by the gynecologist or the obstetrician who is assisting in childbirth.
After the collection, you must contact SSCB by telephone and follow the instructions previously agreed for transport.
When the sample is delivered to SSCB laboratories, the blood sample is treated with the most modern 'closed system' technologies, so without any possibility of contamination. Following rigorous protocols, the separation of stem cells is carried out and serological tests are performed to confirm the negativity of the sample, which is then cryopreserved.

Is there a discount for the following conservations?

Yes, contact SSCB Customer Service for more information.