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India's First Stem Cell Transplant Center Launched in Chennai

LifeCell, a pioneer in stem cell banking and research in India, in collaboration with the US-based Cryo-Cell Inc Wednesday announced// here the launch of the country's first stem cell transplant center at Chennai.

Stem cells, obtained from cord blood cells during the childbirth, has the potential to cure over 75 diseases that humans face today as they can be used to repair specific tissues, according to researchers.

The company has invested $4 million to set up the transplant center at the Sri Ramachandra Medical Center of Excellence, which will be fully operational by the end of this year.

"In India the concept of preserving the stem cell is gradually gaining momentum and the potential for this is huge," said Prasad Mangipudi, vice president (marketing) of LifeCell.

The Rs.70 million company is targeting a turnover of Rs.250-300 million for 2005-06.

"We will be investing Rs.500-600 million in expansion through promoter funding but we are also open to private equity funding," Mangipudi added.

"We plan to open collection centers soon in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore. Our Dubai center will also have its own collection bank and the Malaysian center is going to be our ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) hub."

LifeCell currently has 18 stem cell collection centers across the country and by March 2009 it plans to increase the number to 31. The centers have so far collected 3,600 samples of stem cells.

"Stem cells have the potential to cure diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart attack, Parkinson's and many other ailments that can cost human life," Cryo-Cell chief scientific officer Anthony Finch told IANS.

"Indians are gradually learning about its need and potential. However, a proper education on the benefits of stem cell is needed and a proper regulation of the same is very crucial, otherwise the entire concept can be corrupted," Finch emphasise d.

LifeCell's cord blood stem cell banking facility at Keelakotaiyur in Tamil Nadu has been set up at a cost of Rs.140 million.


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