April 10: Community stem cell bank LifeCell International has initiated genetic testing on all cord blood samples before they are released for use. Reports said that this will make LifeCell the world’s first cord blood bank to add a significant layer of safety to ensure that cord blood stem cells released for transplants do not carry genetic abnormalities and are safe for use in patients.
Human Umbilical Cord blood is one of the preferred sources of stem cells. Its advantages are ease of collection at birth, rapid availability in case of need (not dependent on donor variables), can be preserved for decades, and can be combined with other sources of hematopoietic stem cells to hasten engraftment and improve overall benefit.
As India’s largest stem cell community stem cell bank, LifeCell currently has an inventory of more than 32,000 units, which is growing by double digits each year. Access to such an inventory provides the community of families (those who have preserved their babies stem cells with LifeCell) more than 96% probability of finding matching stem cells for their loved ones – in case the need of hematopoietic transplantation arises.
LifeCell has introduced these genomic profiling tests using cutting-edge next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques. These newly introduced genomic tests will screen for approximately 7,000 inherited diseases and markers of childhood cancers. By screening specifically for genes known to be responsible for inherited diseases and cancer panels screening for childhood cancers, the results will be specific and robust in protecting patient safety.