TN gets its own public stem cell bank

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Chennai, Jan 4 (UNI) Tamil Nadu's first public stem cell bank will become operational here by the end of March this year.

The bank would collect, test, preserve and make available stem cells for recipients, who require transplantation.

A venture of Jeevan Blood Bank, a not-for-profit community bank, it would collect not less than 40,000 units of stem cells gathered from umbilical cord blood in five years.

Seventy per cent of its capacity would be for public storage, which would be subsidised by the remaining 30 per cent to be used for private banking, Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre (JBBRC) Managing Director P Srinivasan told reporters here last evening.

Explaining the process of collection and storage, JBBRC Medical Director Saranya Nandakumar said cord blood was derived from the umbilical cord, usually discarded as waste. It contained stem cells capable of developing into any other cell type.

According to studies, 93 per cent of patients with standard risk factors showed a three-year survival rate after cord blood transplantation, she added.

While units stored in a private bank could be used restrictively, cord blood in the public bank would be available to those in need of stem cell transplantation after HLA typing was done. When a match was detected, the required unit of frozen stem cells would be transported to the hospital where the transplantation was scheduled.

Dr Srinivasan said the units would be provided free of cost to the poor, but others would be charged Rs one lakh, which was far less compared to Rs 11 lakh levied in Singapore for the same units.

A small per cent of the stored units would also be made available for research.

He said Jeevan Stem Cell Bank would get ready a bone marrow donor registry within the next few weeks. It hoped to sign up with international registries and publish on a website the contents of a stem cell registry so that a matching unit could be identified by any hospital across India and the globe.

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