LifeCell’s life-saving bank: Community Stem Cells Banking

With this first-of-its-kind global initiative, LifeCell aims to bring together unique benefits of private and public banks and effectively address the challenges of sourcing matching stem cells in India

LifeCell’s life-saving bank: Community Stem Cells Bank
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  • LifeCell International has announced launch of Baby Cord Share – Community Stem Cell Banking.
  • It aims to address need for creating a large inventory of stem cells in India and to bring together unique benefits of private and public banks.
  • To effectively address the challenges of sourcing matching stem cells in India.
  • This is a first-of-its-kind global initiative of LifeCell.
  • It will allow sharing of preserved umbilical cord stem cells amongst parents’ community.
  • Provide larger access to donor stem cells within the community and higher probability of finding a matching donor stem cell for treatments.

How will it work?

Community banking will also help parents and siblings in accessing stem cells from community pool, thus providing a comprehensive family benefit for treatments.

“With increasing awareness amongst parents about preserving their baby’s stem cells, community banking could help increase the inventory by more than 50,000 every year,” said Mayur Abhaya, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, LifeCell, which is India’s first and the largest stem cell provider as well as a pioneer in stem cell research.

Abhaya added that through community banking of cord blood units, India has the potential to become the largest inventory of stem cells globally. It will eventually increase the scope of potentially life-saving stem cell transplants for babies, their families, their communities and others of Indian origin worldwide.

‘Stem cell banking a welcome move’

Everyday around thousands of babies are born in India and availability of an umbilical cord donated and stored could be abundant to treat many medical conditions.

“The conditions requiring donor stem cells for transplants are almost four times higher than conditions that use patients’ own stem cells. So, community stem cell banking is a welcome move from LifeCell,” said Dr Purvish Parikh, Board Member of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Director of Precision Oncology and Research, Asian Cancer Institute.

LifeCell’s efforts to encourage more people

In order to encourage more people to donate to the community bank, LifeCell has following plans:

  • To offer benefits like zero retrieval cost
  • Open access to any matching unit
  • Immediate availability and a large inventory, thereby increasing probability of getting the right match.
  • Cost of stem cell transplant for donor or sibling will be compensated by LifeCell
  • Community members can also avail a full refund of membership fee if the sample is released to another member

Mr V Ravi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, LifeCell, said, “Community banking is a new perspective where the baby can bless the family with protection of stem cells.”

The community stem cell banking will be available to customers with immediate effect at a starting price of Rs16,990 with an Annual Storage Fee of Rs.4,000 per annum. LifeCell also offers additional long-term plans wherein customers can choose to prepay the storage fee.

Facts you must know

  • 1 in 20 lifetime risk of diagnosis of an individual for 80+ conditions where stem cell transplant is eventually required
  • 80% of these conditions would require stem cells from a donor, with remaining requiring own stem cells
  • 70% of patients are unable to find a match in India due to limited stem cell donors – only 1,80,000 – which is less than 1% of global donor base
  • 40-50% of donors are either unavailable or refuse donation at time of transplant request
  • As per study funded by ICMR, an inventory of 2,50,000 cord blood units are required to provide Indians with a similar or higher matching probability (against current inventory of more than 5000 units at public banks)