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Benefits of cord blood stem cell therapy to reach children Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Two Chennai-based research-oriented institutions are coming together to extend the benefit of cord blood stem cell therapy to children with leukaemia and thalassaemia.

Indo-Japanese research house Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) and the newly-launched not-for-profit Jeevan Stem Cell Bank on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding that envisages networking with maternity hospitals across the country and motivating more parents to donate cord blood of newborns.

Consul General of Japan in Chennai Kazuo Minagawa, who presided over the MoU signing ceremony, termed the partnership epochal and said the cooperation between the two institutions would be complementary in nature.

Under the MoU, Jeevan will engage in collection and cryopreservation of cord blood samples while NCRM will use its core strength in nano technology and tissue engineering for in vitro expansion of stem cell lines at its state-of-art laboratory, said Samuel Abraham, NCRM director. “The technology for cell proliferation will resolve the non-availability of enough stem cells in cord blood,” said Saranya Narayan, Medical Director, Jeevan Stem Cell Bank.

Expertise from Japan

Significantly, the partnership will also bring in haematological expertise from Japan, which has taken the lead in harnessing cord blood stem cell therapeutics to treat even adult patients.

“Research groups are evaluating the benefit of cord blood-derived stem cells in the treatment of about 70 disorders,” said P. Srinivasan, managing trustee, Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre. Replying to questions, Ms. Narayan said the Jeevan venture was established as a public cord blood bank and had successfully collected 20 samples from all over the country using cold chain transportation. Samples, which came from as far away as Pune, reached Chennai in thermocol cases that maintained a 21-23 degree temperature, she said.

“Ideally, we should be having a collection of about 60,000 phenotyped and HLA-stapled samples to be able to find a match for a patient in need in the shortest possible time,” said Dr. Srinivasan. “The collaborative programme will also avoid expensive reagents to keep the costs affordable,” Dr. Samuel Abraham said.

- Courtesy The Hindu, 10th February 2009 issue.
*"Nichi" stands for Japan and "In" stands for India. This institute started on an Indo-Japan collaboration now has spreaded further with global alliances
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