Thumbnail image for SuzanneSomersByPhilKonstantin.jpgActress Suzanne Somers has forged an alliance with the company Neostem for a multi-year awareness program. The idea is to educate the public about adult stem cell collection and storage. As part of the promotion campaign, she will have her adult stem cells (from her bloodstream, mobilized from her bone marrow) collected and stored, complete with filming of the collection procedure. The educational campaign, to start in September 2008, is apparently meant to coincide with the opening of several new Neostem collection centers.

There is certainly an increasing use of adult stem cells for treatments, with one estimate that approximately 11,000 patients in the U.S. have received adult stem cells as part of their conventional treatment in the past two years. The vast majority of these have been for various cancers and blood disorders, but an increasing number of adult stem cell clinical trials are seeing patients receiving treatment for autoimmune diseases and heart damage, which are showing published success in patients.

Still, it's not certain whether it's worth storing your adult stem cells at this point, especially given the cost. In most cases, your own adult stem cells can still be harvested even after diagnosis of cancer (see, e.g., Carol Franz's story with multiple myeloma.) There IS a great need for storing cord blood, though, instead of throwing away the umbilical cord; for cord blood stem cells there is only the one chance for collection.

But Suzanne Somers is excited: "Stem cell therapy is the most exciting new breakthrough in medicine. It gives me great peace of mind to know that my own stem cells will be banked as bio-insurance for me." So I guess having your cells already in the bank gives some people additional reassurance.