Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stem Cell banking- to go for it or not?

Lot many parents are interested in getting stem cell collected for their Kids as apart of 'future Investment'.There is an emotional angle and it leaves parent feel guilty if it haven't got the banking done.Yesterday I attended a CME on stem cell and it made me think that how less do the counsellors and even the doctors who advise you to go for it or don't go for it know about the stem cell banking.
Stem cell is a bright concept with a huge potential to treat many medical conditions.That we are talking about Public banks,where just like public blood banks umblical cord cells are donated and stored as stem cells.The stem cell is released at a price when a person needs it for therapy .
Now coming to the Private stem cells,the idea again is good but then there are few aspects which you need to know before you take any such decision.
  1. If your baby has Metabolic disorder ,he can't be treated by his own blood.Reason being even the stem cells are having the same disorder.
  2. Leukemia can't be treated in the child by the stem cell,as it has been found that these stem cells have the potential to get transformed to cells having leukemic antigens.Moreover when donor cells are given there is a preventive Graft VS tumor reaction,which is beneficial and can fight with the cancer cells.When the child's own sample is used this protective graft vs tumour reaction is absent.
  3. For a good unit of stem cell at least 60 mls of umblical cord blood is needed.Below which the cells retrieved would be less and thus useless.
  4. When needed this 60 mls is sufficient for only one transfusion of the child.For adults this one unit won't be sufficient.Ask you blood bank ,God forbid if you need it will you get more units?
  5. Umbilical cord blood should not be collected in woman who are less than 34 weeks pregnant as the cell retrieval will be very less due to small size of placenta.IN a twin pregnancy the collected sample should be checked for cross contamination.If Lady has uterine infection then sample should be discarded .Goes without saying if mother has HIV or any other blood borne Infection,,,,,collection shouldn't be done.
In India as of now we don't have a full fledged public stem cell bank and till than private banks are better than nothing.
All the Hospitals and Gynaecologists worldwide are paid some collection charges for stem cell, from all of these companies and that is ethical and doesn't come into the category of unethical cuts.

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