Cord Blood Banking Firms Promise Cure, Experts Say Mere Claims
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7, March 2010
Cord blood banking companies store stem cells at the time of birth for later usage in potential treatments
TERMED as the future of medical therapy, stem cells are painted as the panacea for all ailments. With each encouraging research, stem cells are generating interest among people.
The marketing executive of cord blood banking companies, which store stem cells at the time of birth for later usage in potential treatments, promises hope to expectant parents. But the concrete stamp of experts still eludes this process.
These companies store stem cells, derived from the blood collected from the placenta at the time of the delivery, for 21 years. During this period, these stem cells, it is claimed, could be used in potential treatment of diseases like leukemia, thalassemia and brain injury. Life Cell, a company which has been collecting cord blood in Chandigarh and surrounding areas for more than five years, claims over 1,800 couples from Punjab, Himachal Pardesh and Haryana have registered for the process.
“Though metros like Mumbai and Bangalore are much ahead in awareness levels about cord blood banking, Chandigarh is definitely catching up. The growth in the last couple of years has been impressive. From mere 300 couples some two to three years ago, the numbers have swelled,” Hridesh Jaiswal of Life Cell said.
According to company of ficials, more upper middle class and the working professional couples are opting for cord blood banking.
Reliance Life is another entrant in the region.
Parents who have their elder child suffering from some serious ailment are a major section of those opting for this expensive banking, as chances of matching the stem cells with a sibling are much higher than with those of an unrelated donor.
“I have a five–year–old daughter suffering from leukemia. When we were planning another child, our gynaecologist suggested stem cell banking, in case we needed these cells for my daughter’s treatment later,” a city–based private bank employee said.
Cord blood banking comes with a heavy price tag. To store stem cells for 21 years after birth, companies charge anything starting Rs 59,000.
But even as private nursing homes are replete with promotional matter on cord blood banking, experts refuse to agree.
“These are basically claims, which may or may not come true. There is no research anywhere which proves that the stored cells can be actively used in treatment of a person.
At this moment, these are premature claims with no long term study or research,” a senior doctor involved in stem cell research in PGI told Newsline.
PGI has got a special grant to do research on stem cells. But it reportedly has no plans to start cord blood banking.
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