In A First, Narayana Hrudayalaya Initiates Combined Cord Blood Repository

August 27, 2010

Courtesy: timesofindia

Parents can now donate their newborn’s cord blood for use by any patient or store it for their own use. For the first time, Narayana Hrudayalaya has initiated the combined cord blood repository with both public and private banking facilities.

Cord blood stem cells from a child are used to treat diseases like thalaseemia, a condition where the body has fewer healthy red blood cells and less haemoglobin than normal and Faconi, an inherited anaemia that leads to bone marrow failure. These cells could be used to cure these diseases in siblings and even in parents provided the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type matches.

If they need to bank a child’s cord blood, a decision needs to be taken about 2-3 months before the expected date of delivery. This helps to collect the cord blood and tissue immediately after delivery. The entire collection process has to be completed within 5 minutes of delivery of the child. The process is simple and can be done by any qualified obstetrician or a trained nurse and does not affect the health of either the newborn child or the mother. Otherwise, it’s difficult to collect and store the cells.

Dr Prem Anand Nagaraja, director, Narayana Hrudayalaya Tissue Bank and Stem Cell Research Centre, Bangalore, said: “Cord blood is obtained from the wasted placenta and umbilical cord at the time of childbirth. After the child is born and the cord is divided, residual blood in the placental circulation is collected using sterile procedures. The remaining umbilical cord is delivered and discarded. Stem cells extracted from this cord blood as well as cord tissue can be preserved for a long time in liquid nitrogen and used to treat many diseases and cure patients.”

Wide application

Four-year-old Mayur is suffering from Fanconi’s anaemia. Since he is the only child and bone marrow from his parents doesn’t match his HLA, he has no option but to go on regular blood transfusions to keep up his platelet count.

His mother Prathibha is now eight months pregnant and antenatal tests show that the foetus is free of the dreaded diseases. Newer indications for stem cell therapy are disease conditions like breast cancer, renal cell cancer, heart disease, spinal injury, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Research and clinical trials worldwide prove the success of cord blood stem cells in over 75 such disease conditions.

Dr Sharat Damodar, consultant haematologist, Narayana Hrudayalaya, said: “All these true stories speak volumes about the therapeutic potential of bone-marrow derived stem cells from a matched donor. In the absence of such a donor, cord blood derived stem cells can help cure dreaded hematological diseases like Thalassemia major, Aplastic anemia, Fanconi’s anaemia and over 14 such other conditions.”

Newborns and their power to save lives

August 22, 2010

Courtesy by:

Doctors say blood obtained from a newborn’s umbilical cord can be used to treat many blood diseases.

“Stem cells extracted from this cord blood as well as cord tissues can be preserved for a long time and used to treat many diseases and cure patients,” said Dr Prem Anand Nagaraja, director of Narayana Hrudayalaya Tissue Bank and Stem Cell Research Centre.

Dr Sharat Damodar, consultant haematologist at Narayana Hrudayalaya, said in absence of a matched donor, stem cells could help cure dreaded heamatological diseases such as thalassemia major, Aplastic anemia, Fanconi’s anemia and 14 such conditions.

Four-year-old Mayur, diagnosed with Fanconi’s anemia, has no sibling (to donate bone marrow) and the marrow from both his parents does not match his HLA. He has to depend on regular blood transfusion to keep up his platelet count. But there is hope for him. His mother is eight-month pregnant and antenatal tests have shown his yet-to-be born sibling is free from Fanconi’s anemia. Mayur can get cured from the stem cells obtained from his younger sibling’s umbilical cord. “Cord blood obtained from the wasted placenta and umbilical cord at the time of childbirth is collected using sterile procedures,” said Dr Nagaraja.

The decision to use a child’s cord blood is made three months before the expected delivery date.

Cord blood is collected immediately after delivery and the window of opportunity to collect and store them is very small. The entire process has to be completed within five minutes of the delivery.

Cryo Cell Pakistan

August 10, 2010

Thalassemia is the most common inherited single gene disorder in the world. The thalassemias are a diverse group of genetic blood diseases characterized by absent or decreased production of normal hemoglobin, resulting in a microcytic anemia of varying degree.

Your blood count may be a little lower than other people of your age and sex, but this produces no symptoms. You were born with this condition and you will have it all of your lifetime. There is no need for treatment and most people who have inherited this are not sick and probably do not know they have it. A mild form of Thalassemia minor may be mistaken for iron deficiency anemia. Iron medicines are not usually necessary and will not help your anemia. They could even be harmful if taken over a long period of time.

If you marry a person who does not have Thalassemia Minor, your children may have Thalassemia Minor. If you marry a person who does have Thalassemia Minor, some of your children may have Thalassemia Major. You must decide if you want to take this risk in planning your family.

Symptoms of Thalassemia Major
An infant with Thalassemia Major appears normal at birth. If a child is well for the first five years of life, a diagnosis of Thalassemia Major is unlikely. The double dose of two Thalassemia genes causes an anemia that is so severe that regular blood transfusions must be given throughout life

A newborn with Thalassemia Major appears normal at birth. As they grow, infants with Thalassemia Major exhibit paleness and fussiness. Weakness and slow growth appear in the first or second years of life. The abdomen may swell due to an enlarged liver and spleen. Changes occur in the appearance of the face and head. The eyes appear slanted and the cheekbones become prominent.

Treatment for Thalassemia Major
Treatment involves blood transfusions that must be given every 4 to 6 weeks to sustain life.
Complications that may arise from regular blood transfusions include an overload of iron build up in vital organs causing diabetes, liver disease and heart failure. The spleen may become so enlarged or overactive that it has to be removed surgically. In the past, many patients died in their teens due to these complications.

Management of thalassemia is not enough. Researchers are investigating two potentially curative treatments:  Stem Cell transplantation and gene therapy. Both methods have shown promise.

In stem cell Therapy, there are two ways to go about it.

  1. Bone Marrow Transplant
  2. Cord Blood Transplant

Some children with thalassemia can be cured with a bone marrow transplant. However, this form of treatment is most successful when a donor who is an exact genetic match is available. Generally, a sibling or other family member is most likely to be an exact match. The procedure can cure about 85 percent of children who have a fully matched family donor. However, only about 30 percent of children with thalassemia have a family member who is a suitable donor.

Recent studies suggest that using umbilical cord blood from a newborn sibling may be as effective as a bone marrow transplant. Like bone marrow, cord blood contains unspecialized cells called stem cells that produce all other blood cell.

The beneficial results of stem cell transplantation from HLA identical family members for patients with severe thalassemia are clear. Class I patients have a very high probability of cure with a very low early and late morbidity and mortality. Delay of transplantation until the patient is in a risk category beyond class I substantially reduces the probability of transplant success and jeopardizes the reversibility of liver and cardiac damage. It is reasonable to suggest that patients with β-thalassemia who have HLA-identical donors should be transplanted as soon as possible.

Umbilical cord blood (UCB) has been shown to be capable of reconstituting the bone marrow of the patient with thalassemia after myeloablated pre-conditioning treatment. The major advantage of UCB over other sources of stem cells is the ability to cross HLA barriers, and there is evidence of less GVHD. The use of related – donor UCB stem cells with HLA mismatches at one to three antigens needs to be considered. It would be worthwhile to do a prospective study to evaluate the role of UCB stem cell transplantation in the treatment of the thalassemias and hemoglobinopathies.

Thalassemia is widely distributed throughout the world and is one of the major public health problems. The use of bone marrow transplantation, the only curative therapy for thalassemia, is limited because less than 30% of the patients have unaffected and HLA-identical siblings as donors. Cord blood stem cells, an alternative source of stem cells for transplantation, have been successfully transplanted into patients with several diseases after myeloablative therapy.

Testing for Thalassemia
If a person has Thalassemia Minor, the cause of the slight anemia is known and no other blood tests or treatments such as iron are needed. More important, since individuals with Thalassemia Minor can pass the Thalassemia gene to their children, most people would like to know if there is a risk that their children could inherit this severe blood disease.

A safe and reliable prenatal test to diagnose Thalassemia Major in a fetus as early as 10-12 weeks after conception has been developed. Couples who are at risk may want to consider this possibility.

Success rate of Stem Cell Transplantation (SCT) for Thalassemia?
In low-risk cases (less than 10 years of age, having regular chelation therapy, non liver enlargement and no transfusion-associated diseases like hepatitis or HIV), SCT provides a 80-90% cure probability, with 5% mortality rate and a 10% chance of rejection (thus leaving the child thalassemic).

Cost of storing Umbilical Cord Blood
In Pakistan, one Company namely Cryo Cell Pakistan, with the help of their affiliate in USA, offering collection, extraction and storing services. The normal fee was about USD. 2,000 but they are offering handsome discount on their price in the introductory period. Further details may be obtained from their website

Cord blood service formally launched

June 15, 2010

Hamad Medical Corporation’s Women’s Hospital, which catered to as many as 15,553 births last year, has become the first public hospital in the region to offer a private cord blood banking programme involving extensive patient education.

The formal launch of the cord blood banking services, implemented in partnership with Virgin Health Bank-QSTP, was held yesterday at an event at HMC’s Hajar Auditorium.
Women’s Hospital executive director Nish Patel, VHB-QSTP CEO Dr Rajan Jethwa, Women’s Hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology consultant Dr Arabo and other dignitaries were present.

“We are offering our patients and their families a whole new frontier of medical therapy through the cord blood banking services,” Patel stated on the occasion.

“Our goal is to reach families, especially mothers, and raise their awareness and enable them to make an informed decision,” he explained.

The official recalled that HMC and VHB QSTP had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2009 to offer the service and initiated a comprehensive training programme in January this year for Women’s Hospital staff.

The programme is intended to provide families with the opportunity to purchase high quality cord blood stem cell storage should they wish to do so.

Dr Jethwa pointed out that umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants are today used to treat over 80 diseases, principally for conditions like leukaemias and blood disorders like beta thalassemia major and sickle cell anaemia.

It is also anticipated that in the future stem cells will form the basis of developments in regenerative medicine.
Families, who choose to have their babies delivered at the Women’s Hospital, can contract with VHB QSTP to bank their newborn’s cord blood for an initial period of 20 years, by paying a one-off charge of QR12,950.

“Our multilingual counselling team is available by telephone, e-mail or at Women’s Hospital, which is responsible for about 95% of births in Qatar, and specially trained personnel will collect the cord blood using best practice techniques,” Dr Jethwa said.

Information on the service is also available at Primary Health Centres, where expectant mothers go for antenatal care until the 32nd week of pregnancy, before being referred to the Women’s Hospital.

“The process of cord blood collection does not interfere with our clinical work,” Dr Arabo explained while observing that there is an increased demand the world over to store cord blood stem cells.

It was also clarified that in the process of cord blood banking, only adult stem cells are harvested so there are no ethical considerations and the process has been confirmed as being Shariah compliant.
In a message, HMC managing director Dr Hanan al-Kuwari maintained that HMC is always striving to deliver the highest quality standards of healthcare and the partnership with VHB-QSTP is an integral part of that endeavour. Until VHB-QSTP’s cord blood stem cell processing and cryogenic storage facility is ready by the end of this year, all cord blood units collected from Qatar will be taken to VHB’s facility in London.

StemCyte India Therapeutics to Create Centre of Excellence

May 15, 2010

Courtesy by:

StemCyte India Therapeutics Pvt Ltd (SCITPL) – a joint venture between StemCyte Inc. (USA), Apollo Hospital Enterprises Ltd and Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd – announced operations both as a private and a public bank.

Headquartered in Ahmedabad, SCITPL was set up during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2007, when a MoU was signed to encourage the growth of biotechnology in the state. The new StemCyte India building is located within campus of Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad in Gandhinagar. With both public (donor) and private (family) stem cell banks in USA, Taiwan and India as well as upcoming banks in the Middle East, StemCyte has emerged as a international leader in cord blood banking and a trusted name among transplant physicians, worldwide.

“With more than 20 years’ human safety and efficacy data, umbilical cord blood stem cells are emerging as a prime source of stem cells for regenerative medicine, which repairs injured tissues, nerves and organs. Research and clinical studies are increasing at an incredible pace and this will result in the treatment of some of the most devastating diseases,” said StemCyte’s CEO, Ken Giacin. Said Preetha Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals Group, “With its strategic location in Gujarat, which has the highest frequency of thalassemia patients, StemCyte India is a ray of hope for patients with this life-threatening disease.”

According to Tushar Dalal, President, SCITPL, the company plans to build an inventory of 25,000 ethnically diverse units to help treat critically-ill patients in India and abroad. As part of one of the largest privately-owned public cord blood banks with global operations, StemCyte India will have an edge over other cord blood banks due to its successful transplant experience from the public bank and its patented technique of processing and storage.

Local family on a mission to save son

February 21, 2010

Courtesy by:

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – When you meet Essa Khairi you can’t tell that beneath his playful spirit and infectious laugh, the 11-month-old suffers from a rare genetic disorder with potentially life-threatening complications. He was recently diagnosed with thalassemia major. His body produces dangerously low levels of hemoglobin, depriving his tissues of crucial oxygen.

To maintain his health, Essa is dependent on monthly blood transfusions. While effective, the high levels of iron he receives have potentially dangerous consequences for his heart and liver. The only cure for his condition is a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Essa’s parents were discouraged to learn that there are very few people of Southeast Asian descent in the National Bone Marrow Registry. It is unlikely they will find a bone marrow donor so the Khairis have decided to proceed with a cord blood transplant.

Dr. Talal Khairi contacted a doctor at Duke University specializing in cord blood transplants. He was advised that while there are potential unrelated donors, Essa’s best chance of a match is a sibling. Essa’s parents are now preparing to have a third child in hopes that the umbilical cord blood will be a match for Essa. If not, they will proceed with looking for an unrelated cord blood donor.

While the Khairis are no longer actively looking for a bone marrow donor for their son, they are still hoping to organize a local bone marrow registry drive. They are calling on people of Southeast Asian descent to come forward and register, so that if someone is in need of a transplant there is a potential match waiting.

Dr. Khairi’s colleagues at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield are helping him organize the drive. Stay tuned for more information.

Virgin Health Bank signed an agreement with Al Ahli Hospital

February 21, 2010

Courtesy by:

Al-Ahli Hospital and Virgin Health Bank QSTP have signed an agreement creating a partnership that will assist in the development of cord blood stem cell banking in Qatar. Their collaboration will give guests of the hospital the opportunity to store the umbilical cord blood stem cells of their newborn babies.

The programme that has been developed ensures that guests who are going to have their babies at Al-Ahli Hospital are informed about cord blood banking and can benefit from VHB QSTP’s services through their maternity care. This partnership was announced in a press conference hosted by representatives from both Al-Ahli Hospital and VHB QSTP.

VHB QSTP was established to help realise the benefits of stem cell therapies for the people of Qatar and the wider Gulf region and they began offering their cord blood banking services to Qatar’s families in late 2009.

They have already completed a week long training programme for the obstetrics and midwifery teams at Al-Ahli in support of this initiative.

Mr. Abdulwahed Al-Mawlawi, the Managing Director and CEO of Medicare Group and Al-Ahli Hospital said “Al-Ahli Hospital has undertaken this partnership to assist in its development in Qatar by making it available to our honourable Guests. Teams from Al-Ahli and Virgin Health Bank have worked closely together for a number of months to assure that this service is delivered in a proficient manner.”

Dr. Rajan Jethwa, the CEO of VHB QSTP said, “Virgin Health Bank’s new partnership with Al-Ahli Hospital is a significant and exciting development for cord blood banking in Qatar and the Gulf region. Together we’ll educate families about this area of medicine and provide a high quality ethical service.”

Al-Ahli Hospital’s maternity unit is the largest among the private healthcare providers in Qatar. Having been in operation for over than three years, their maternal morbidity and mortality rates are much lower than the internationally-accepted figures. Their western-qualified and highly experienced team of consultants and specialists led by Clinical Director, Dr. Zeenat Rizvi, perform an average of six deliveries per day.

Dr. Rizvi said, “Cord blood stem cell banking provides families with the opportunity to store the stem cells of their newborn babies. These cells may be used to treat the child, or provided there is a tissue match, another member of their family.”

“Developments in this area of medicine are progressing rapidly; today cord blood stem cells are used to treat blood cancers including leukaemia’s and blood disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia. In the future they are expected to become the basis for advances in the field of regenerative medicine. Through this partnership, we can provide our guests with ethically-compliant cord blood banking and this falls in line with our objective of providing leading edge obstetric care.”

Stem cells are obtained from cord blood collected just after a baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. It is a straightforward and safe procedure that has no impact on the mother or her newly born child. After collection, the cord blood is transferred to Virgin Health Bank’s Human Tissue Authority licensed processing centre in the UK, where it undergoes tests to determine its viability and the number of cells are counted before it is cryogenically preserved at -190C.

Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the eminent Islamic scholar, has approved of the cord blood banking process and has declared that it conforms to Shari’a law. Dr Al-Qaradawi is Chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, a member of the Islamic Fiqh Council and the senior Islamic Jurist.

In 2009 Qatar Foundation and VHB QSTP signed a partnership that has seen VHB QSTP relocate its international headquarters to QSTP where it’s building an advanced processing and cryogenic storage facility that will be operational before the end of 2010.

The new cord blood banking service has commenced at Al-Ahli Hospital and guests are now able to get more information about it by contacting its Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department. The service costs families a one off payment of QR 12,950, paid to Virgin Health Bank, which includes the collection kit, the processing of the cord blood, all the necessary tests and 20 years of storage.

B+ve to A+ve, he beats thalassemia

November 22, 2009

Courtesy by: timesofindia

AHMEDABAD: Exactly 49 days ago, Harshil Nanda was a severely ill thalassemic patient with B positive blood group. Today, he is a healthy infant with A positive blood group and a confirmed evidence of how stem cell transplant can cure thalassemia.

The change in his blood group is in fact proof that Harshil’s procedure, the country’s second stem cell transplant from umbilical cord blood of a stranger child received from a private bank, has worked.

Harshil’s rapid recovery has cheered stem cell transplant surgeons at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI) where the first such transplant was performed nearly a year ago.

“This means that unrelated umbilical stem cell transplant can be termed as an established treatment. As they say, first success could be luck but second is science,” said director of bone marrow transplant department at GCRI Dr Sandip A Shah. The transplant was assisted by Dr Kinnari Patel and Dr Kamlesh Shah.

The first success story was of Rishi, a thalassemic major child from Kutch, who was cured by umbilical cord stem cells transplanted from an unrelated donor as he did not have siblings. Harshil is also the only child of his parents.

“While it took three months in Rishi for the donor blood cells to completely take over and change his blood group, Harshil has recovered within two months,” said Dr Shah.

For children without siblings and suffering from thalassemia, aplastic anaemia and similar blood problems, this is good news. The success rate of such transplants is 70 per cent.

Doctors are now poised to perform a third unrelated umbilical cord stem cell transplant. “The third patient is a girl called Zeel, who has got Rs 10 lakh as donation from Bollywood star Ajay Devgan to perform the transplant,” said Dr Shah.

Cryobanks to step up awareness on stem cell banking

November 12, 2009

Courtesy by:

Cryobanks International India, a leader in umbilical cord blood stem cell banking, aims to expand its network in Orissa by involving more families in the state for storage of umbilical cord blood.

Around 200 families in the state have stored umbilical cord blood so far and the company expects this number to grow as it has lined up awareness programmes on this concept in different parts of Orissa.

Phagun Shah, medical advisor, Cryobanks International India said, “The people of Orissa have shown very keen interest in the concept of umbilical cord blood banking and hence we have seen fast growth in 2008. We look forward to developing more awareness on this subject in different parts of the state and expect more enrolments in 2009-10.”

“The umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells and the bank will store them from any willing family for a certain fee. These cells will be vital in saving the life of a person suffering from leukemia, thalassemia, blood cancer and bone marrow transplant”, added Shah.

The people who opt for umbilical cord blood stem cell banking would have to pay Rs 75,000 for a storage duration of 21 years. The amount can be paid either upfront or through equated monthly installments (EMIs).

Cord blood banking is a process of preserving extra blood in the umbilical cord that is attached from the mother’s womb to the baby. The blood in the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells that can be restored and replenished for future use of the baby and his immediate family.

Ghazi Aasim, marketing head, Cryobanks International India said, “With the availability of cord stem cells, one is free from the hassle of arranging a matching bone marrow donor.

Cord blood stem cell transplantation cures minor girl

September 16, 2009

Courtesy by: samaylive

Chennai, Sept 16 An eight-year-old girl suffering from Thalassemia has been cured by ‘cord blood stem cell transplantation’ at a hospital here.

The doctors used her younger brother’s cord blood stem cells for transplantation and the hospital authorities claimed it was the first time this method was practised.

Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin that results in excessive destruction of these cells and causes severe anaemia that can occur months after the birth. The patient then has to undergo monthly blood transfusion.

Mayur Abhaya, president and executive director of LifeCell International, a leading stem cell bank, told reporters here that Thamirabhurani was suffering from Thalassemia for the last six and a half years.

She went through painful blood transfusion and medication until the stem cell Cord blood stem cell transplantation cures minor girl, he said.

“The stem cell transplantation was recently done by Dr Revathi Raj at Apollo Hospital and it helped the girl get rid of Thalassemia,” he said, adding doctors had recommended that the patient start on iron reducing medication initially.

“The doctors then asked her parents to consider another pregnancy and go for umbilical cord blood stem cell banking”, he added.

Raj said a pre-natal test confirmed that the foetus was not affected with Thalaseemia.

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