Cryonics is Far, Cord-blood is Near

by gwern2 min read8th Dec 201111 comments

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Personal Blog

Wired, "Inside the Strange Science of Cord Blood Banking" (Wikipedia):

In a nondescript commercial park on the outskirts of Las Vegas, a large cryogenic stem cell storage facility is ready to accept your baby’s blood. Cord Blood America in Las Vegas is one of dozens of private cord blood banks in the United States that, for a fee, will store stem cell-rich blood taken from a newborn baby’s umbilical cord.

Over one hundred thousand families save or donate cord blood annually, in the hopes it will one day provide medical help to their child or someone else.

“My vision is within the next 10 years we’ll see organizations like this develop into cellular therapy labs,” said Dr. Geoffrey O’Neill, vice president of CorCell, the subsidiary company that runs Cord Blood America’s Las Vegas facility. It’s beginning to happen now in countries like China and Mexico, he says.

...Reality is different. Leukemia, bone marrow failure, immune deficiency, metabolic diseases and sickle cell anemia — the diseases cord blood is typically needed for — require transplants of healthy cells. The cord blood of a child with leukemia would also carry the disease.

“If you have the money, and you want to bank your child’s own cord blood, you’re essentially investing in one of two things,” said Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, director of the Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program. “One, the possibility that another child in your family will need that cord blood, and that it matches. Or two, that somewhere in the future there will be new developments and new uses for your child’s cord blood — say in regenerative medicine or cell therapy. But to date, none of those exist.” While a few rare diseases, such as multiple myeloma and lymphoma, use stem cells taken from a patient’s own body, the chances of a child having these are vanishingly small.

...Parents pay $2,075 for the kit, courier fees and one year’s storage. CorCell charges a $125 annual storage fee after that. Some insurance companies offer discounts. CorCell has been in business for six years and stores about 30,000 samples; Geoffrey O’Neill, the vice president, says he recalls seven or eight samples being pulled for use. A CorCell customer service representative later estimated this at 25 to 30 samples. [30,000 / <30 = <1 in 1000 = <0.1%]

Inside the Cord Blood America facility, quotes painted on the walls are the first thing to capture the visitors’ attention: “The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies,” proclaims Ayn Rand on one wall. “Do or do not, there is no try,” says Yoda on another. On another wall, Micky Rooney offers some advice: “You always pass failure on the way to success.”

See also Near / far thinking, cryonics estimates, & "Normal Cryonics".

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"The cord blood of a child with leukemia would also carry the disease." Really ? AFAIK leukemia isn't a birth disease. Kids (and adults) can develop it at various ages. And environmental factors such radioactivity or heavy metals poisoning can increase the risk significantly. There probably is a huge genetic factor in the odds of having leukemia, so taking your own cord blood may contain a risk of having a new leukemia a few years afterward. But still, that's far from already carrying the disease.

Or I am wrong somewhere ?

Umbilical cord blood cryopreservation also holds many similarities to cryonics. Like cryonics, cord blood banking is hedging on possibilities of future innovation: ‘‘[Parents] invest in the possibility that cord blood will achieve the plasticity of embryonic stem cell, with their apparently endless, pluripotent possibilities for multiplication and recapacitation’’ (Waldby 2006:65). Waldby examined private cord blood preservation (in contrast to donation to publicly shared banks) as a future-oriented, self-serving investment that may or may not yield returns for the family holding the account, likening it to forms of venture capital. Waldby argued that private cord blood banking is indicative of neoliberal shifts in society and medicine, in which individuals are responsible for their own well-being, risk-management, and the management of their own futures.

--"Extreme Life Extension: Investing in Cryonics for the Long, Long Term", Romain 2010

[-][anonymous]10y 2

Cord blood may be Far, but how does that make cryonics Near?

ETA: This comment was in reference to the post's original title, "Cryonics is Near, Cord-blood is Far".

Look at the wiki summary:

All of these bring each other more to mind: here, now, me, us; trend-deviating likely real local events; concrete, context-dependent, unstructured, detailed, goal-irrelevant incidental features; feasible safe acts; secondary local concerns; socially close folks with unstable traits.

'socially close folks with unstable traits' - hm, I'm sure that has no connection with cryonics and the 'hostile wife phenomenon'.

What the stable vs. unstable distinction refers to is that in far mode a person's behavior is more likely to be seen as resulting from the person's general, stable dispositions (their traits) while in near mode the person is seen as responding more flexibly and variably to the particulars of the situation. "Unstable traits" is a misleading phrase, because near-mode thinking involves seeing others as less trait-like.

For instance, Trope & Liberman (2003) write that "According to CLT, global traits constitute high-level construals of behavior, whereas situation-specific states constitute lower level construals of behavior" and describe a study which, "[c]onsistent with CLT, ... suggests that people are more likely to use abstract, decontextualized trait concepts in predicting distant-future than near-future behavior."

Trope, Y., & Liberman, N. (2003). Temporal construal. Psychological Review, 110, 403-421.

I see. I was initially titling this post the opposite, 'Cryonics is Far, Cordblood is Near', but then after looking through the list and thinking about hostile-wives, decided to swap it. Well, regardless of which label fits on which practice, the contrast is still striking. (I'll swap it back, unless you think that'd be even more wrong?)

[-][anonymous]10y 17

Your willingness to swap the labels around like that suggests that you're trying to force in a near-far distinction that isn't actually there.

Or the willingness suggests I am able to admit that I made a mistake.

It's not clear to me that the two practices differ on the near/far dimension. The passage suggests that cord blood is more popular than cryonics, so maybe that should be the headline (unless you have more to say about why you think they differ in popularity).