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09 Nov 2011 3 Comments

Do I need to store stem cells?

From New Delhi to Trivandrum, parents-to-be are increasingly investing in storing their baby’s umbilical cord blood cells. The private stem cell banking industry in India which stands at Rs.100 crore today is estimated to touch Rs.2700 crores by 2020, with the top ten players in the world establishing a presence here. India will account for 17% of the world’s market. Given India’s birth rate, this is highly probable. But why the sudden interest in stem cells? Stem cell therapy has been in use to treat blood cancers for nearly 40 years. Stem cells were extracted from the bone marrow and the patient received a stem cell transplant. However, the last decade has shown medical practitioners an easier and entirely non-invasive source of stem cells – the umbilical cord. Cord blood contains stem cells that are as powerful as the ones in the bone marrow. They are also easier to harvest, store and expand. However, the most important fact that is driving people to store their cells is that stem cells from one’s body (autologous) or from that of a blood relative have a higher chance of matching. Like all transplants, stem cells too need to match between donor and recipient. If it’s your own there is no question, if it’s a blood relative, the odds are greatly in your favour.

Added to this is the fact that stem cell therapy is finding more and more applications. In fact, it is one of the most researched areas in medicine and the fastest growing. This blog itself publishes discoveries/research progress on stem cells. Slowly, this form of treatment is being used to treat injuries, lifestyle related illnesses and chronic conditions.

In this scenario, more and more aware and educated parents are banking their children’s stem cells at birth, as a form of insurance for not just the little one, but the whole family itself!



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