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Umbilical Cord Blood Banking of Negligible Value: Experts

New Delhi: Several private companies have established umbilical cord blood banks in India saying they would be a life saver for thousands. But some health experts term this// as "unethical and of negligible value".

The umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells and is believed to be vital in saving the life of people suffering from leukaemia, thalassemia, blood cancer, bone marrow imbalances and many such critical diseases.

However, some haematologists believe that this is just a ploy by a few private companies to exploit Indians by making false promises.

"It's a pure commercial endeavour and does not hold any relevance at this point of time. It's both unethical and of negligible value," said Rajat Kumar, professor of haematology at the frontline All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

"In the name of regenerative medicine and promises to cure all kinds of illnesses, these private bodies are exploiting the emotions of apprehensive parents and thus looting money. There is no regulating body in this field as well.

"India is yet to register any success in stem cell transplants and has even failed to provide first line drugs. So, why are we thinking of third stage treatments? It's really beyond logic," Kumar, who organised an all India haematology conference at AIIMS, told IANS.

There are currently four major umbilical cord blood banks in India - Reliance Life Science in Navi (New) Mumbai, Cryobanks in Gurgaon, Life Cell in Chennai and Cryo Stemcell in Bangalore.

While nearly 200,000 samples have been stored the world over, around 10,000 cord blood samples have already been stored in India for future use.

At Cryobanks, a family can save the cord blood of their baby for Rs.60,000 for a period of 21 years. Cryo Stemcell takes Rs.30,000 as a one time storing charge and Rs.2,500 per year as maintenance fee.

The stem cells collected from the umb
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