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Cord Blood Banking

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    18th Mar, 2020

Recently, Poona Citizen Doctors’ forum dispels beliefs on commercial cord blood banking. It has warned to-be parents against falling prey to the emotional marketing tactics by stem cell banking companies.

Context

Recently, Poona Citizen Doctors’ forum dispels beliefs on commercial cord blood banking. It has warned to-be parents against falling prey to the emotional marketing tactics by stem cell banking companies.

About

  • Cord Blood:
    • Cord blood (short for umbilical cord blood) is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta post-delivery.
    • Cord blood has an abundance of stem cells and immune system cells, and the medical uses of these cells have been expanding at a rapid pace.
    • As these cells help the body re-generate tissues and systems, cord blood is often referred to as regenerative medicine.
    • Cord blood is currently approved by the FDA for the treatment for nearly 80 diseases, and cord blood treatments have been performed more than 35,000 times around the globe to treat cancers (including lymphoma and leukemia), anaemias, inherited metabolic disorders and some solid tumours and orthopaedic repair.
  • Cord Blood Banking:
    • Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the cord blood and extracting and cryogenically freezing its stem cells and other cells of the immune system for potential future medical use.
    • Globally, cord blood banking is recommended as a source of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for haematological cancers and disorders where its use is recommended. 
    • For all other conditions, the use of cord blood as a source of stem cells is not yet established.

Concerns:

  • Stem cell banking has been aggressively marketed even as its use is still in experimental stages. But these companies charge enormous fees from parents to preserve cells.
  • The concern here is that it is merely by emotional marketing that companies convince parents to bank the cells for several years promising future therapeutic use.
  • Private companies who have forayed into this field offer packages anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh to store and preserve the cells in right conditions.
  • So far there is no scientific basis for preservation of cord blood for future self-use and this practice, therefore, raises ethical and social concerns.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) does not recommend commercial stem cell banking.

Uses of Cord Blood 

  • The umbilical cord fluid is loaded with stem cells. They can treat cancer, blood diseases like anaemia, and some immune system disorders, which disrupt your body’s ability to defend itself.
  • The fluid is easy to collect and has 10 times more stem cells than those collected from bone marrow.
  • Stem cells from cord blood rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected as adult stem cells.
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