Achieves landmark milestone within four months of launch of revolutionary banking model
CHENNAI, August 7, 2017 – In spite of being a highly populated country, India has lacked availability of donor cord blood samples and registered bone marrow donors. The number of cord blood units preserved with public banks in India is collectively around 5,000. The probability of finding a matching unit from this small inventory is low, leaving over 70% of Indian patients requiring donor stem cells in the lurch. According to an ICMR study only when the inventory increases to >250,000 would almost every patient find a match.
In order to address this challenge, LifeCell had earlier this year, launched the community stem cell banking model that works on the concept of sharing of stem cells among a community of families banking with the company. Within just four months of launch, the registry has recorded preservation of over 5,000 qualified units available for sharing with an unrelated patient within the community. While LifeCell has surpassed the collective number of available samples across public banks in the country, this is however just the beginning, as the company expects its existing customer base to upgrade to the community banking model and grow this number 10 times larger by the end of the year. Combined with its organic growth rate it’s only a matter of a few years when soon every patient will have access to a well-matched cord blood units vital for a life-saving transplant.
Importantly it’s not just quantity that matters but also the quality. All the units in the registry meet the current US FDA standards for listing, thereby addressing the concern that the medical fraternity world over has on the quality of samples stored in private banks. LifeCell will also undertake the high-cost, high resolution HLA typing of samples, based on next-generation sequencing. This brings a host of benefits as against the relatively low-cost, low-resolution HLA typing, including:
- Greater chance of finding a match. Traditional HLA sequencing can lead to incomplete HLA information hampering the chances of finding a match
- Better matching leading to better treatment outcomes giving transplant physicians, the confidence on the quality of the sample
Speaking about the milestone, Mr. Mayur Abhaya, CEO, LifeCell said, “The community banking model amalgamates the open access of a public bank with the availability of precious, vast yet underutilized stem cell resources of a private bank, all this at no additional cost and within the framework of a community. This has laid the ground for the creation of an unprecedented, Indian origin stem cell registry. We envision a time, in the not too distant future, when families in need of stem cells for transplants have to look no further than our registry for matching samples. Our hi-resolution sequencing of HLA typing would escalate the standards in the search of matching units for transplants. A country with such a large population deserves this and we believe our endeavour would ensure that in the coming times, patients would have no inferior access to high quality, well-matched samples.”
LifeCell, established in 2004, is India’s leading provider of preventive healthcare services for family wellness, such as stem cell banking and diagnostic testing, with facilities at Chennai and Gurgaon with a network spanning over 200 cities in India and abroad.
BabyCord, LifeCell’s umbilical cord stem cell preservation services, is the world’s second largest with over 50,000 parents preserving their baby’s stem cells with it each year and over 2,00,000 parents already having trusted LifeCell. With the recent launch of BabyCord Share, a community-based approach towards stem cell access, is a global first and aims to provide families in India better future access to stem cells than even currently possible in advanced countries such as the US. LifeCell’s processing, storage and testing facilities are the most accredited having received recognitions from domestic and global bodies such as the AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks), College of American Pathologists, National Accreditation Board for Laboratories, World Health Organization, amongst many others, and is also US FDA registered.
BabyShield, LifeCell’s preventive genetic screening and diagnostic testing services, is India’s market leader for newborn screening services and recently forayed into prenatal screening.
To learn more about LifeCell, read our interview with LifeCell’s CEO and Managing Director, Mr. Mayur Abhaya.