Pool banking cord blood stem cells to help reduce burden of blood related diseases

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Pool banking cord blood stem cells to help reduce burden of blood related diseases

Pool banking cord blood stem cells to help reduce burden of blood related diseases

Many new parents get preserved their baby's cord blood cell in the hope that it can be used to treat serious illnesses later in the child's life. And, they are assured that it can be used to treat about 80 blood and immunological condition. They spend thousands of rupees a year for the services but they feel cheated when they are in need of this cryo-preserved stem cells. According to a paper published in 'International Journal for Scientific Research & Development', European countries like Italy and France have banned cord blood storage for self-use due to their being almost no autologous (own) usage in the treatment.

However, in 2016, Lalit Jaiswal, Director, CelluGen Biotech, a licensed cord blood bank, through its vertical Mycord (also known as cord pool bank) brought to light the scientifically proven fact that 90 per cent of the blood-related disorders are due to hereditary and genetic conditions. As such the child's own cord blood unit cannot be recommended for self-use. "This is because donor stem cells will be needed to fight diseases like Leukaemia, Thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anaemia and similar blood-related disorders. Therefore, for effective treatment of blood-related diseases, Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) Transplant is recommended to be that of someone else and not your own," said Dr Rahul Bhargava, Director, Haematology, and Bone Marrow Transplant, from a private hospital.

Explaining the limited autologous (self-use) application for private cord blood banking, Dr Rahul Bhargava said, "Child's own cord blood can rarely be used for transplant in blood-related disorders, as the disease is mostly present at the time of birth. This is why private cord blood storage for self-use is not recommended for transplant. However, an older sibling with a treatable condition could benefit from the stored cord blood unit."

When it comes to availability of public cord blood banks, India with less than 5,000 units stored cuts a sorry figure in finding a compatible match. Even the six lakh cord blood units stored in public banks worldwide are of little use to Indian patients due to the ethnicity.

Further, according to Bone Marrow Worldwide annual report 2012, with merely 11 per cent of donors, Asia is far behind rest of the world in terms of stem cells donors. Moreover, of these, barely 0.3 per cent are registered as HSCs (hematopoietic stem cells) donor in international registries. Thereby, making it difficult for patients in India to source matched unrelated donors when in need, say the experts. "With growing awareness around cord blood transplant, all we need to do is to help parents make informed choices by offering them better options. Mycord aims to break the current practice of private cord blood banks that allow access to only own cord blood, which in most cases, is of no therapeutic use," Jaiswal added.

The revolutionary concept will allow its members to have an access to other best-matched cord blood samples. "Mycord advocates that each UCB unit privately banked be part of a pool thereby providing an easy access to the best-matched cord blood unit. This can be achieved only if Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing is done at the time of storage," said Jaiswal.

Dr Rahul Bhargava said, "Banking a cord without HLA typing is like a blood bank without noting the blood group, making the unit thereby effectively useless." He further explains, "Storing cord blood of newborns, which otherwise is routinely discarded, in pool bank after HLA typing, may help treat a large number of children born with blood-related diseases."