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Life-saving umbilical cord blood repository arrives in Andhra Pradesh

Bank your baby's cord blood with Cord Care A.P's first Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking

Hyderabad|India|February'2010: Birth is a one-time opportunity. Make a choice on the day your baby is born which will impact the future health of the child and even your other children. Banking life saving umbilical cord blood of your child will offer a potential resource for treating a growing number of ailments, including cancer, leukemia, blood, and immune disorders.  Since 1988, stem cells have been effective in treating more than 80 life-threatening diseases including different types of Cancers, Thalassemia, Blood and Metabolic disorders, Immunodeficiency Ailments and Autoimmune disease. 

This most talked about life saving umbilical cord blood bank arrives in Andhra Pradesh.  Now parents can bank their baby's cord blood with Cord Care (A Division of PathCare Labs (P) Ltd.,) - Andhra Pradesh's first Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking disclosed Dr. G.V. Prasad, Managing Director and CEO of PathCare Labs (P) Ltd. addressing a Press Conference in city today. It is South India's second and India's fifth facility

Cord Care is a division of PathCare Labs, a Hyderabad based Futuristic Diagnostic Service Provider with a state-of-the-art Central Clinical Reference Laboratory at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh offering full range of speciality diagnostic facilities resulting in a higher degree of clinical excellence and accuracy in reporting.  

PathCare has embraced a policy of stringent quality standards, ethical practices, professionalism, innovation, optimism and dedication for carrying it into the realms of global leadership in providing accurate clinical referral testing services.   

Cord Care’s Cord Blood Stem Cell Storage facility is designed to meet global norms for processing and cyro-preservation of samples efficiently, aided by the most advanced technology and computerization. The only stem cell bank with national coverage supported by Regional Laboratories and more than 600 Collection Centers spread across the country. 

Cord Care’s Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank has been set up at PathCare Labs, Hyderabad with the state of the art facilities such as  • Fully Automated Stem Cell Processing Section • Testing Laboratory  • Cryo-Preservation Centre  • IT and Logistics support centre • Power Back-up etc.

The Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank is established would be affiliated and certified by a key Governing Agencies such as DBT (Department of Bio-technology), DCGI (Drug Controller, Government of India), US-FDA and American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). The quality and operational procedures of bank would confirm to the guidelines recommended by these agencies.  

CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS:

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the newborn's umbilical cord after the cord has been cut and discarded. The blood is not drawn from the baby, but rather drained from the umbilical cord after the baby is born. The blood along with the placenta is otherwise discarded.  Doctors have identified that cord blood, like bone marrow, is a rich source of stem cells, which can be used in medical treatments. Cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives.  A variety of cell types exist in cord blood including Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSC), Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) and Epithelial Stem Cells (ESC). Cord blood is routinely discarded after birth, but a process known as cord blood banking allows families to save this valuable resource for potential future medical use.  

Stem Cells have opened a whole new area of thought in the history of medical treatment. Stem cells are the body's "master" cells that regenerate and turn into the cells that form all of the tissues, organs, and systems in the human body. The first use of stem cells in medicine was to regenerate healthy blood and immune cells in cancer patients after they received chemotherapy. In an exciting new area of medicine called regenerative medicine, scientists are focusing on using cord blood stem cells for the treatment of brain injury and juvenile diabetes

·         Stem cells can be roughly described as the all-rounders of our body. They can be called over to bat, bowl and field on behalf of other cells in case of emergencies.  

·         They can regenerate into over 200 types of tissues. Every stem cell divides in to a potential muscle cell or red blood cell or nerve cell.  What is more exciting is the discovery that cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. 

·         Research into stem cells is very promising and indicates that numerous other diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Cartilage Regeneration, Liver Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Cord Injuries etc can be treated with stem cell therapy.  

·         Trials are on to treat lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, liver disorders and heart aliments. 

Patients requiring a stem cell transplant will receive these stem cells from one of three sources: embryonic, bone marrow, circulating blood, or umbilical cord blood. The first two exist in all healthy adults, but cord blood can only be harvested and stored at birth. It is easier to match transplant patients with cord blood than with the two sources of adult blood. Hence, establishing bank to preserve cord blood can save many lives.  

Cord blood stem cell transplants have better success rates than bone marrow transplants and are preferred because these cells are young.  It has also been scientifically found that cord blood stem cells have better tolerance of HLA mismatches. Thus cord blood can make a difference between life and death in difficult transplants. 

Stem Cell are so tiny that it would take a million of them clustered together to form a pin head.  Yet as their name denotes all other cells 'stem' from them. They have the capacity to reconstruct, repair and make good damaged cell structures/ailing organs such as brain, the heart, the spine, the limbs, the muscles, the skin and everything else that constitutes the human body. 

Once the body is fully grown they lie dormant in the marrow of our bones, in the cavities in our eye, under the nose, in our stomach and even in our skin waiting for the signal for transform into whichever tissue or organ that is needed. They are the body's hidden biological repair system--the super mechanics with a warehouse stacked with everything you need to make your body new again.   

Cord Blood is a Bio-Genetic Insurance against diseases - since these stem cells may be lifesaving to their family. Recognizing the current and future potential many families are seriously considering  storing newborn's cord blood so that they can fall back upon this biological resource should the need arise. Most of the families, who have no family history of disease, but recognize the current and future potential of their newborn's cord blood stem cells as a biological resource if ever needed. Families know that there is only one opportunity - at birth - to collect these genetically unique stem cells and if not taken, the cord blood is simply discarded. 

These banks are large scale cryogenic facilities that preserves cord blood at around -196ºC.  It takes just 5 to 10 minutes to collect Cord Blood since the cord blood is collected after the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. It is a very simple and painless process for both mother and child.  

Cord Care has a facility to store upto one lakh samples said Dr. G.V. Prasad. The collection, processing and preservation of cord blood is done at a fee of Rs. 75,000 and the samples are stored in cryogenic vaults for a period of 21 years.  This is certainly a lifetime investment which can make a difference between life and death.     

Since the first successful stem cell transplantation took place in 1988, when French researchers took umbilical cord blood from a newborn and gave it to a 5 year old sibling who had Fanconi's anemia, a severe type of anemia that causes skeletal defects. To date, there have been more than 10,000 umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants reported worldwide.

According to latest edition of India Today, The L.V. Prasad Institute has treated over 700 cases of Corneal regenerative procedures using stem cells with much success said Dr. G.V. Prasad.

Stem cell banks are well developed business concept in developed nations and it is rapidly gaining ground in India. Stem cells were in the limelight when recently US President Barak Obama lifted an eight-year-old ban on Government-supported funding for embryonic stem cell research, opening floodgates for millions of dollars in research.  

In the Indian too, stem cell banking is gaining momentum. "In India the industry put-together has banked about 25,000 cord blood units over the last three years. This number is set to increase substantially with increased market reach and awareness, increase in regulatory approvals for stem cells based products and lowered resistance to private banking will together encourage more clients to choose stem cell banking, Dr. G.V. Prasad said.  

Stating further Dr.G.V.Prasad added that with more than 80,000 births a day or 26 million births a year, India is poised to be the largest source for umbilical cord blood in the world. It's no surprise then that leading stem cell banking companies are keenly eyeing India. The investments are considerable and mostly run into millions of dollars. Due to high birth rates, India presents lucrative opportunity for stem cell banking business.  

Stem cell preservation is a huge business opportunity in the international market and as per estimates the global stem cell market is expected to become USD 10 billion opportunity over next 10 years. Analysts estimate that Indian stem cell banks, which are currently at Rs. 100 crore, would generate Rs. 2,700 crore in revenues by 2012, accounting for 17 per cent of the world market. "Companies with foreign funding are entering the market and are planning to capture at least 21 per cent of the total market,". 

The world market for stem cell therapy is projected to increase from an estimated Rs 1,44,000 crore ($ 30 billion) in 2009 to Rs. 4,60,800 crore ($96 billion)  by 2015.   

Further, India offers unmatched advantages in terms of land and manpower cost competitiveness, availability of technical workforce with high skill sets and regulated market. The Country has all the essential ingredients to emerge as a key repository of cord blood for companies across the globe.  

With rapid economic growth, widening base of high income group couples, the Country has huge target population that could be enticed towards the benefits of cord blood storage. Estimated cost of cord blood storage cost around USD 1,500 to USD 2200 for a 20 year period and India has huge customer base which could afford this said Dr. G.V. Prasad. 

Presently, lack of awareness and highly technical nature of the process is the key reason for a small customer base in the Country. However, the market has tremendous potential that could be tapped by initiating an awareness campaign and a customized marketing plan observed Dr. Prasad. 

As of now, there are four players in this five-year-old market. Most of these cord blood banking companies are having an overseas parent company which is responsible for the initial investment. Leading private players in area of cord blood banking are: Life-cell International, Chennai; Cryo banks International India, Gurgaon; Reliance Life Sciences, Mumbai and Cord-life Sciences India, Kolkata. 

The pharmaceutical clusters at Hyderabad would offer various operational and infrastructure benefits to the Cord Care Stem Cell bank. Since the city is housed with several pharma, biotech, CRO’s and R&D companies as its prospective tenants, it would offer significant options for operational and technical collaboration. Further, the envisaged Clinical Trials would facilitate testing of pioneering stem cell therapies. Joint research collaboration between biotech firm and stem cell bank would expedite the process wherein the bank would extend its hi-end storage facilities to be used for trials in the vicinity. Thus the cluster would assist the bank realize various growth avenues arising out of such a configuration said Dr. Prasad.  

Established in January 2008 within a span of 18 months PathCare Labs has established 8 regional processing laboratories across India.  PathCare Labs in Hyderabad is spread in over 20,000 sft, area adhering to CLP, CLSI, FDA and WHO guidelines.  It is certified by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), Government of India. PathCare Central Clinical Reference Lab is equipped with State of the Art equipment certified by US FDA and CE marked and is backed with highly skilled professionals comprising of Pathologists, Bio-chemists, Microbiologists, Genetists and support staff for sample accession and handling.  

Path Care Labs is also all set in a road map to expand in the field of diagnostics and the infrastructure. It proposes to expand its services to the segments like 

·         PAN India presence through Regional Labs (20 Labs)

·         Hospital Lab Management at Small Hospitals and Clinics (100 Labs)

·         Supporting Clinical Trails for diagnostic tests 

Stem Cell Therapy through preservation of Cord Blood in a bank certainly has great and promising future for many. 

Reachout's News Bureau
 February' 2010

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