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What is immune cell (iCell) banking?

iCell banking involves the harvesting, processing and cryopreservation of an individual’s healthy iCells for potential future use in immunotherapies. During the processing stage, white blood cells are separated from peripheral blood, which includes T-cells and other iCells. From there, the cell samples are safely stored and kept viable until they are needed. In order to be helpful for immunotherapy, iCells must be harvested with high purity.


iCell banking works as a form of medical insurance against the potential that the patient will require immunotherapy in the future. It can be seen as a long-term investment in your health, in line with taking out an insurance plan. All insurance plans are speculative in nature, requiring you to invest in your health now to protect yourself against the possibility of future health issues.

Why is your immune system deteriorating?

As we age, our adaptive and innate immune systems may cease to function as effectively as they once did. Some of the alterations listed below may have an impact on the immune system:


  • Our immune system reacts more slowly to viruses or chemicals, making us more susceptible to infectious illnesses.
  • iCells become less in quantity, so our bodies may take longer to repair.
  • Our immune system becomes less efficient in detecting and correcting cell alterations, which may increase our risk of cancer.
  • Autoimmune diseases can occur when the immune system loses its ability to discriminate between self and non-self, increasing the risk of harm to healthy cells.


After the age of 50, the age-related decrease in immunological function may be faster. Other factors that might contribute to decreased immune system performance include genetics, environment and lifestyle.

What are the benefits of having a robust immune system?

Your immune system — the body’s natural defence against infectious illnesses – decreases as you become older.


A functioning immune system – comprising specific organs, cells, and chemicals – is necessary to aid in the battle against pathogen infection, to guard against dangerous substances in the environment and to destroy aberrant cells within our bodies (such as cancer cells).

How the Immune System Combats Infections


Bacteria blanket our bodies and suffuse the air we breathe. Bacteria may be found on almost every surface in our surroundings. To assist prevent infection, our skin and interior mucous membranes function as physical barriers. Bacteria can enter the body when the skin or mucous membranes are damaged owing to illness, inflammation or injury. Once in the tissues, infecting bacteria are generally covered with complement – a complex protein network of plasma – and antibodies, allowing neutrophils to quickly identify the germs as something alien. The germs are then engulfed and destroyed by neutrophils.


This mechanism efficiently destroys the bacteria when the antibodies, complement and neutrophils are all operating correctly. Recurrent bacterial infections can develop when the amount of germs is excessive or when there are abnormalities in antibody synthesis, complement and/or neutrophils.



Our bodies protect against viruses in a different way than they do against bacteria. Viruses can only exist and reproduce within human cells. As a result, they may “hide” from our immune system. When a virus infects a cell, the cell produces cytokines to notify other cells of the infection. In most cases, this “alarm” protects additional cells from being infected.


Circulating T-cells and NK cells are alerted to a viral invasion and move to the location, where they destroy the virus-carrying cells. However, many of our own cells may be destroyed in the process, making this an extremely destructive technique for killing the virus. Nonetheless, it is an effective method of eradicating the infection.


At the same time, as T-lymphocytes are destroying viruses, they are instructing B-lymphocytes to produce antibodies. When we are exposed to the same virus a second time, the antibodies aid in the prevention of illness. Memory T-cells are also generated and respond quickly to a second infection, resulting in a milder course of the infection.

The analogy between iCell banking and cord blood bankingThe analogy between iCell banking and cord blood banking

iCell banking is given to healthy individuals as biological insurance. This model is similar to private cord blood banks, where families elect to bank their newborn’s stem cells to preserve their future health.


In the beginning, family cord blood banking was very speculative:


  • From 1995 to 2005, the sole motivation for banking cord blood was in the event a child had paediatric cancer. The cumulative odds of a stem cell transplant by age 20 is only 3 in 5,00025.
  • However, in 2005, something occurred that altered the prospective applications of cord blood in family banks. That year, Dr Kurtzberg’s team at Duke University began using autologous cord blood stem cells to treat juvenile neurologic disorders.
  • In 2017, the FDA approved an expanded access protocol NCT03327467 that allows cord blood infusions for children with brain injuries (allowed donors are both autologous and siblings).
  • In February 2021, Duke University received a patent on the use of autologous cord blood for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The prevalence of ASD is 1 in 54 among school-age children in the United States.


On multiple levels, the experience of family cord blood banks serves as a warning story for iCell banks.


  • It took more than two decades from the launch of the first family cord blood bank before these neurologic indications for use became widely adopted.
  • When the industry was in its initial stages, no one could foresee that neurologic applications of cord blood would completely change the landscape. It is reasonable to say that no one today can predict where banked iCells may be applied even a decade from now, let alone a quarter of a century from now.

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    +61 3 7016 0801

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