Forever Labs, a startup in Y Combinator’s latest batch, is preserving adult stem cells with the aim to help you live longer and healthier.
Stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell needed in the body. It’s very helpful to have younger stem cells from your own body on hand should you ever need some type of medical intervention, like a bone marrow transplant as the risk of rejection is greatly reduced when the cells are yours.
Mark Katakowski spent the last 15 years studying stem cells. What he found is that not only do we have less of them the older we get, but they also lose their function as we age. So, he and his co-founders Edward Cibor and Steve Clausnitzer started looking at how to bank them while they were young.
Clausnitzer banked his cells two years ago at the age of 38. So, while he is biologically now age 40, his cells remain the age in which they were harvested — or as he calls it, “stem cell time travel.”
Steven Clausnitzer with his 38-year-old banked stem cells.
Stem cell banking isn’t new. In fact, a lot of parents are now opting to store their baby’s stem cells through cord blood banking. But that’s for newborns. For adults, it’s not so common, and there’s a lot of snake oil out there, Clausnitzer cautions.
“There are places offering stem cell therapy and Botox,” he said.
Forever Labs is backed by a team of Ivy League-trained scientists with decades of experience between them. Jason Camm, chief medical officer for Thiel Capital, is also one of the company’s medical advisors — however, the startup is quick to point out it is not associated with Thiel Capital.
The process involves using a patented device to collect the cells. Forever Labs can then grow and bank your cells for $2,500, plus another $250 for storage per year (or a flat fee of $7,000 for life).
The startup is FDA-approved to bank these cells and is offering the service in seven states. What it does not have FDA approval for is the modification of those cells for rejuvenation therapy.
Katakowski refers to what the company is doing as longevity as a service, with the goal being to eventually take your banked cells and modify them to reverse the biological clock.
But that may take a few years. There are hundreds of clinical trials looking at stem cell uses right now. Forever Labs has also proposed its own clinical trial to take your stem cells and give them to your older cells.
“You’ll essentially young-blood effect yourself,” Katakowski joked — of course, in this case, you’d be using your own blood made from your own stem cells, not the blood of random teens.