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Future Health Biobank Celebrates 20 Years
Future Health began in a single unit in the Faraday Building in Nottingham Science and Technology Park. This May, Future Health celebrated its 20th anniversary and has outgrown its small unit to comprise six subsidiaries in Europe and a global reach of 94 countries.
Future Health was born at a time when cord blood banking was still a relatively unknown concept. The majority of expectant parents were unaware of stem cells and the potential health benefits they held.
The 1990’s was a pivotal decade in which the image of cord blood began to change from a discarded substance to something that had been used successfully in stem cell transplants. In 2002, its first year of operation, Future Health processed just eight units of cord blood. Now in 2022, Future Health has an inventory of more than 200,000 stem cell samples stored for over 100,000 families from around the world.
The success of Future Health was far from guaranteed. Over the past 20 years, the field of cord blood banking and stem cell transplants has completely transformed, growing from a few clinical trials to an international industry with over 80 approved standard therapies.
Future Health has played an active role in this evolution. The company conducts its own research and has participated in a number of research projects in association with universities. These projects include studies of stem cells from cord blood, cord tissue, and dental pulp, exploring improvements in processing and testing methods, and transforming stem cells into specialized cell types.
An early, defining moment in the history of the company, came when a family who had stored their daughter’s cord blood stem cells with Future Health requested their release to help their 16-year-old son, Laith, recover from Fanconi Anemia. The sample was shipped over 3,000 miles to the King Hussein Cancer Centre in Jordan, where the transplant took place successfully. This was the first time a cord blood sample stored with Future Health was released and used in treatment.
Cord blood banking is a form of insurance that hopefully never has to be used. However, should it need to be, the service should be convenient and accessible. Future Health has become a specialist in this area, acquiring multiple accreditations. The company has two storage facilities (Nottingham, UK, and Chȃtel, Switzerland), a physical presence in around 50 countries, and has released 122 banked biological samples for use around the world, with no extra charge for their release or shipment.
In 2022, Future Health is set to open a new biobanking storage facility in Nottingham to meet increasing demand. The new facility will include green technologies as part of the Future Health commitment to our environment and sustainability.
On this special occasion in the history of the company, Chris Bond, the CEO of Future Health, commented on these exciting plans and on being a part of the past, present, and future of cord blood banking: “Knowing we have played a part in that development and changing people’s lives is very humbling. We look forward to seeing what the next 20 years bring.”