Stem Cell technology, a rapidly developing field
In the latest development, the change in the policies for medical research has been introduced to help India excel in the field of stem cell technology. A technology, which even being into nascent stage has been found effective in various types of serious health complications.
The organization, SCSI, which held its 3rd annual national conference, asked the health ministry to amend new rules and regulations on stem cell research, which may even put an end to the different sets of stereotypes in medical world.
Experts there also believe that if said thing will be done, India will not be left behind from the countries like US, Japan, or China. As these are the countries, which excel in stem cell technology research, only due to the policies which have supported the research.
For 10 years, Kartik and his parents would every fortnight brave the battle condition state for a blood transfusion. Kartik was diagnosed with leukemia when he was five months old and needed the transfusion to maintain the white blood cells levels.
Then, he received a bone marrow donation. A majority of patients suffering from these diseases depend on bone marrow transplantation, but the transplantation is the supportive medication for the disease not a cure of the disease.
But the Medical specialist are predicting that introduction of stem cell therapy in the new world have given doctors and patients a new hope for life. Diseases that are mostly incurable or have expensive treatment can be treated with more ease and with a promising future.
In 2007, The Indian Council of Medical Research in collaboration with the Department of Biotechnology formulated and finalized the guidelines for stem cell use.
What are stem cells?
Known as master cell and responsible for producing all the mature cells in human body, Stem cells are the building blocks of various organs and tissues in the body. These cells, which normally found in bone marrow and umbilical cord, have potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Further, they are also the producing unit for white cells that fight infection and the red cells that carry oxygen, and also the platelets that induce clotting and produce cells in our immune system.
What is Stem Cell Banking?
Start few years back, stem cell bank is a facility, to preserve our stem cells for any urgent future use. After childbirth, the cord which attached baby from the mother for feeding is known as Umbilical cord, and the blood that remains in the placenta and in the attached umbilical cord is known as Umbilical Cord Blood. Medical experts collect the blood from the cord once it was detached from the newborn.
Cord blood is collected because it contains stem cells including hematopoietic cells used for treating genetic disorder, similar to those found in bone marrow. It also contains-red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. That is why it is used as alternative to bone marrow.
The cord blood collected is then transferred to the laboratory and frozen in cryogenic storage tanks for long term preservation. Nowadays the umbilical cord is also stored.
Today, with the uprising of various kinds of diseases, stem cell technology has come out as a efficient therapy in treating them. Now, storing our baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells is an investment towards the future health of the family. It ensures an exact match for the child and a more likely match for another blood-related family member, should the stem cells be needed for treatment. Unfortunately, if a stem cell treatment is indicated, families that has not privately banked their child’s cord blood stem cells end up searching for an appropriate source of compatible stem cells – searches, which can take months and still, be unsuccessful. Cord blood stem cells from a family member are much more likely to be successfully transplanted than those from an unrelated donor. Banked stem cells from cord blood can be more readily available an this can be especially crucial for patients with severe cases of leukemia, anemia or immune deficiency who would, otherwise, die before a match can be found.
Difference between stem cells from cord blood v/s bone marrow
A bone marrow transplant is the process which involves the transplantation of bone marrow of donor into the recipient, so that it generates new stem cells. As compared to bone marrow, stem cells are available in greater proportion in the umbilical cord. And these cord blood cells have more generative capacity as compared to bone marrow cells. Further, adding to few more benefits, once cord blood can be also used for lung, heart and kidney disease where bone marrow cells are to be avoided.
With advancement in technology and new policies, it is presumed that today and in coming future, parents will for sure opt for stem cell banking. Cord blood, which is going to be stred for future use for the family tragedy, have 100 percent matches with the baby and siblings will have 25 percent. This once in a lifetime opportunity helps preserve a biological resource for future use. It helps protect one from incurable diseases like leukemia and thalassemia while trials are in progress for Alzheimers, cartilage regeneration, diabetes, heart diseases, liver diseases, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and even strokes.