Forget about cash—start banking your body.
Using a technology that echoes science fiction movies, a French company is offering people a "bank" to store their own stem cells for years in a bet that those cells may be used to grow replacement organs and possibly save their lives someday.
"It's a personal deposit of your cell," said Dr. André Choulika, CEO of the biotech company Cellectis, which is launching the stem-cell bank known as Scéil this month.
Given the rate of developments in stem-cell research and their potential for curbing health costs, Choulika thinks Scéil's model of creating and storing stem cells one day will become so cheap that it will become mandatory for people with medical insurance.
"This pace of science currently goes so fast, probably in a few years, less than 10 years, everyone will have their own cell backup, and it will be a requirement," said Choulika, whose company is named after the Gaelic word for "story," and is pronounced "sail" by Choulika.
"We believe that regenerative medicine is the future," he said.
In the present, though, it is anything but cheap. Scéil's services cost $60,000, Choulika said, adding that it is "a one-time payment, for your life."
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Choulika said he expects enthusiastic adoption by wealthy clients, as has been seen with other new technologies. Then, system improvements and competition could drive the initial price down considerably.
"It's expensive, or it seems expensive, for one reason," Choulika said. "We don't know how many people are going to sign up, and it's a very complex and sophisticated technology," he said. The number of people now who could both afford the process and be interested in trying it might top 1 million.