– Should you be making a beeline for the nearest stem cell storage facility to insure your health, or should you play the watch & wait game?I recently had the occasion to attend an interesting seminar on stem cell therapy. The speaker, being a most erudite professional from the very same field was articulate and explained at length how stem cell therapy is coming into its own even in India, and how it can help cure a host of diseases, and so forth.
Like all the others in the audience I too was of course agog to know whether I might actually be able to grow a new set of limbs or emerge like the chrysalis from some dreadful old-age afflictions that I might suffer at seventy plus or whenever.
Here is the gist.
What they are: Stem cells are undifferentiated or ‘basic’ cells that have the potential to mature into any type of tissue cell in the body. Stem cells are derived from the umbilical cord or bone marrow. Dental pulp is another popular source of stem cells that can be deposited in a stem cell bank.
The basis of the therapy: Stem cell therapy is based on the principle that stem cells migrate to the site of the disease/injury and transform themselves to form new cells that can replace the damaged tissues. They have the ability to renew themselves and to multiply almost ad infinitum to form mature nerve cells, muscle cells or blood cells.
Diseases that can be treated: The therapy has been used for treatment of anaemia, tumours, and blood cancer. Umbilical cord cells have the potential to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hydrocephalus, liver cirrhosis, strokes and traumatic brain injuries. Other ailments include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and rheumatoid arthritis. Ongoing experiments with treatment for hair loss, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, heart failure.
What the whole thing boils down to is this: the first issue in making stem cells available to oneself or one’s family for later use is that one has to generate them in the first place. If one is past the age of conception and delivery (when the umbilical cord cells may be deposited in a stem cell bank), the next option is to bank your stem cells derived from dental pulp. Here too, the prescribed age limit is 30.
There are agencies that keep your stem cells in storage for your future use. The cells are maintained under artificial conditions where they mature into the type of cells needed for healing a specific type of diseased tissue. For example, after processing, your baby’s cord blood and cord lining will be preserved in a cryogenic storage facility. Once testing is completed, you will receive a lab report and certificate of storage informing you of the status of your baby’s cord blood and cord lining.
It’s important to use only accredited agencies that are approved by AABB, ACT, FDA, HTA etc.
AABB Accredited Cord Blood (CB) Facilities in India
Cryobanks International India Pvt. Ltd. Gurgaon
Reliance Life Sciences, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
Lifecell International Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, Keelkottoiyur
Lifecell International Pvt. Ltd., Manesar, Gurgaon
*Cordlife Sciences India Pvt. Ltd. 24 Paraganas (south)
Being a person with a penchant for practicalities, I piped up with the following two basic questions:
1) What does it cost someone in India currently to deposit one’s stem cells in a stem cell bank?
2) Can one summon the banked cells for use as and when one feels a need for them in the future?
The answers to my above questions were: The approximate cost of banking one’s stem cells is Rs.1.25 lacs for a period of 20 years. They can be requisitioned for use from any part of the world, BUT one can use the therapy only after all other approaches for the specific ailment suggested by one’s medical practitioner have been exhausted and only if and when the doctor advises the use of the stored stem cells, can one actually make use of them. In other words, you can’t make the suggestion or demand it yourself.
This, then friends, is the current status of stem cell therapy in India. I leave it to you to decide whether the technology has reached the level of maturity that warrants your taking action to bank your stem cells right away, or should you do it later.