Offer to put time on hold an easy cell

By Andrew Cave, Nick Collins

These are frozen at -180C and stored to potentially repair damaged organs, rebuild tissue and fight disease in the future. Photo / Thinkstock
These are frozen at -180C and stored to potentially repair damaged organs, rebuild tissue and fight disease in the future. Photo / Thinkstock

Forget prestige cars, yachts and private jets.

From tomorrow, British business executives, sports stars, celebrities and anyone else with £38,400 ($75,300) to spare will be able to freeze a backup of their adult selves for potential use decades later.

Claiming to be a world first, the service has been developed by Sceil, part of Cellectis, a French genome technology company.

Launched in Switzerland, Dubai, Singapore and the US two months ago, it involves taking cells from a small sample of the skin under local anaesthetic at a dermatologist, shipping them to Sceil's laboratories and "rebooting" them into induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells.

These are frozen at -180C and stored to potentially repair damaged organs, rebuild tissue and fight disease in the future.

The service is based on Nobel Prize-winning medical research by Professor Shinya Yamanaka in Kyoto, Japan.

"Shinya Yamanaka broke a paradigm of science," says Cellectis chief executive Dr Andre Choulika. "He discovered that you can take any cell of the body, put a cocktail of things inside and it then forgets the state it is in and comes back to the first stage of life, nine months before birth.

"These cells have the potentiality to give any kind of tissue of your organism. You freeze time at the second a sample is taken and the cells won't age after this moment."

Sceil's service differs from cord blood banking, in which blood is taken from the umbilical cord for later use to reconstitute blood. "We believe it's going to be very popular with a certain class of people who have everything they want but cannot go against ageing," said Choulika.

Cellectis specialises in genome engineering and stem cell treatment. Since its foundation in 1999, Choulika says the company has developed new classes of products in biopharmaceutical production, agrobiotechnology, induced stem cells and alternative fuels.

"People should be able to 'live young' no matter how old they grow," said Choulika.

"We're offering the potential for people to use their cells for their cure as soon as regenerative medicine treatments become available."

Sceil says IPS cells can be derived from adult cells at any time of life. However, due to human cell DNA degeneration over time, Sceil recommends that interested people should give their skin samples sooner.

Choulika said Britain had been chosen for launch because medical regulations allow it to function.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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