Mumbai: LifeCell International – India’s first & the largest stem cell provider, a pioneer in stem cell research– announced the launch of Baby Cord Share, Community Stem Cell banking to address the need for creating a large inventory of stem cells in the country. BabyCord Share brings together the unique benefits of private and public banks, while effectively addressing the challenges of sourcing matching stem cells in India.
Community Stem Cell Banking is a first of its kind global initiative of LifeCell, which allows sharing of preserved umbilical cord stem cells amongst the community of parents. This provides larger access to donor stem cells within the community and higher probability for finding a matching donor stem cell for treatments. Community banking also helps parents and siblings in accessing stem cells from the community pool, thus providing a comprehensive family benefit for treatments.
According to statistics, individual risks of acquiring a blood or immune related conditions that are eventually treatable by stem cells is 1 in 20. 80% of these conditions would require stem cells from a donor, with the remaining would require their own stem cells. Despite the large need, the transplants that are done are relatively very few, due to lack of availability of matching stem cells for treatment and prohibitive costs in sourcing matching stem cell units.
India has a listing of 1,80,000 bone marrow stem cell donors, which is far less than 1% of the global stem cells donor base, despite accounting for 20% of world population. Moreover nearly 40-50% of these bone marrow stem cell donors are either unavailable or refuse to donate at the time of request.
Mr. Mayur Abhaya, MD & CEO, LifeCell said, “With increasing awareness amongst the parents preserving their baby’s stem cells, community banking could help increase the inventory by more than 50,000 every year. Through community banking of cord blood units, India has the potential to become the largest inventory of stem cells globally, increasing the scope of potentially lifesaving stem cell transplants for babies, their families, their communities and others of Indian origin worldwide.
As per a study funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), if 2.5 lakh stem cell units of Indian origin are made available, chances of patients in India finding a matching stem cell unit will exceed that of even a patient in advanced countries such as U.S. Moreover, the cost of sourcing matching stem cells from public banks from elsewhere in the world could cost around INR 15 to 20 lakhs making it unaffordable to many.
“The conditions requiring donor stem cells for transplants are almost 4 times higher than conditions that use patients’ own stem cells. Hence Community stem cell banking is a welcome move from LifeCell, addressing access to donor stem cells of Indian origin which will help future generations stay protected” commented Dr. Purvish Parikh, Board Member of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Director of Precision Oncology & Research, Asian Cancer Institute.
In order to encourage more people to donate to the Community Bank, LifeCell offers benefits like zero retrieval cost, open access to any matching unit, immediate availability and a large inventory, thereby increasing probability of getting the right match. The cost of stem cell transplant for the donor or sibling would be compensated by LifeCell as token of gratitude for signing up for the community bank. The community member can also avail a full refund of membership fee if the sample is released to another member, thereby incentivizing the donor.
Everyday around thousands of babies are born in India and the availability of an umbilical cord donated and stored could be abundant to treat many medical conditions.
Mr. V. Ravi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, LifeCell said “Community banking is a new perspective where the baby can bless the family with the protection of stem cells. With an addition of 50,000 units to the community bank every year, notwithstanding the existing inventory of 2,00,000 units of existing customers which may get added to the community.’’
The community stem cell banking will be available to customers with immediate effect at a starting price of Rs.16,990 with an Annual Storage Fee of Rs.4,000 per annum. LifeCell also offers additional long-term plans wherein customers can choose to prepay the storage fee.