Narayana Hrudayalaya Tissue Bank & Stem Cell Research Centre to invest Rs 1.50 cr for expansion

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Narayana Hrudayalaya Tissue Bank and Stem Cell Research Centre (NHTB-SCRC) has slated an investment of Rs 1.50 crore for the facility expansion this year. The Centre which commenced operations in October 2009, now intends to further increase its research efforts in chord cell therapies. The facility now requires additional storage and processing units for the same. The expansion will be underway by June this year.

Stem cell applications are approved world wide for all types haematological malignancies that are types of cancers affecting the blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes. Further, there are also conditions like Thalassemia, Aplastic Anemia and Severe Combined Immunodeficiency which have ample evidence on the successful treatment with stem cells. It has potential to treat over 80 types of diseases such as stroke, spinal chord injuries, auto immune diseases, leg ischemia, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, Dr Prem Anand Nagaraja, CEO, Narayana Research Centre and director, Narayana Hrudayalaya Tissue Bank and Stem Cell Research Centre told Pharmabiz at the sidelines of Clinicon 2010.

“We are now looking to provide evidence based medicine with cord blood stem cells to treat these conditions and need to expand the research infrastructure. Cord blood tissues are sourced from across the country and stored at the Rotary Bangalore Health City Narayana Tissue Bank. Any hospital in the country can have access to it. Out of the Rs 1.50 crore investments, a major component is from our internal accruals and for the remaining Rs 50 lakh would come from Rotary International,” he added.

Stem cells are sourced from autologous and allogeneic transplants. The former is not preferred to treat blood disorders. The latter has the risk of rejection or graft versus host disease. “In order to provide safe and quick access stem cells to treat many of these life threatening conditions, we are now depending on cord blood cells which are ethically approved. These waste biological tissues sourced from the umbilical cord and placenta can be easily obtained without any risk. Going by the promising therapies with cord blood cells, we would focus considerably in this field,” he added.

The biggest challenge for the treatment using stem cells is a serious lack of awareness and unscrupulous money spinning activities emerging out of cord blood banks in the country. This is where NHTB-SCRC has started creating a massive education programmes on cord blood banking and its benefits for future therapies to the public and medical professionals through workshops and seminars across India.

“Our effort is to provide affordable chord blood banking to all because this is biological insurance for medical therapies of the future. Since stem cells or regenerative medicine can repair or restore the function of the damaged tissue, umbilical cord and its umbilical blood cells are worth being stored,” said Dr Nagaraja.

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