With awareness low, stem cells freezing yet to catch on in India


The therapy can treat many diseases: Doctor

Most couples in India are unaware about the benefits of storing stem cells. Those who have heard about it say they are not interested in it.
Dedeepya Sai, who recently gave birth to a girl, said: “I am neither familiar nor interested in these processes. Even the doctor I consult with didn’t mention it. The knowledge I gained was from advertisements and pamphlets in the hospital I visited.”
Lakshmi Likitha, who recently gave birth to a boy, said: “We (she and her husband) initially wanted to store stem cells but weren’t aware of how to do this. It turns out we need to register in the early stages of pregnancy.”
Stem cell freezing was found to be preferred only by 24 per cent of people, according to a research paper published by the Department of Biotechnology, National Library of Medicine, India.
Vinod Sakala, who recently became a father, said: “Yes, I have made arrangements to store my child’s stem cells…. In the early months of pregnancy, I started the process and made sure everything was set up correctly. We weren’t given any pointers by the doctor, but I made sure to store them for unexpected scenarios in the future for our baby.”
Less than 2,000 stem cell transplants are being performed in India as per data by Life Cell
Bio Bank, a storage bank with centres all over India.
Gynaecologist Laxmi Vani T explained: “Stem cells are beneficial in a variety of ways. There are an estimated 7,000 diseases that can affect today’s birth parents, but 10 per cent of them are treatable with stem cells. There are many diseases… that are not properly treated but can be cured by stem cell (therapy). That’s the greatest gift anyone can give their babies.”
Pharmabiz, a news website, reported that the government of India has helped set up state-of- the-art stem cell research facilities in 40 premier health research and educational institutions.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has provided Rs 8.13 crore for research projects over the last three years. ReeLabs, a stem cell research and therapy company, has earmarked Rs 50 crore to establish a base near Bengaluru for its operations.
Rajesh K, an area manager at Life Cell Bio Bank, said: “It’s necessary to store stem cells just to be ready for any unexpected situations…. Covid has shaken the entire world; anything can happen in the future. In cases where stem cells are not used by the donors, they can be donated to others based on their requirements. As for the price, they not that expensive. Instead of spending a lot of money on fun activities, we can use it to store stem cells.”
For the past 60 years, over 15 lakh blood stem cell transplants have been done across the world. India’s first successful bone marrow transplantation (BMT) was done in 1983 at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. DT Next, a news platform based in Tamil Nadu, reported that the Drug Controller General of India has approved clinical trials of a stem cell therapy to treat Covid-19. It is touted to help treat Covid pneumonia and acute respiratory distress.


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