January 17, 2009

Kolkata gets cord blood bank

KOLKATA: A cord blood bank - a source of stem cells for transplantation to cure a range of diseases - was opened here Tuesday.This is the first Indian facility launched by Cordlife Ltd, a Singapore-based cord blood banking group.
'The first Cordlife facility in India, with a storage capacity of up to 1,50,000 cord blood units, has been set up at Bishnupur area on the outskirts of Kolkata. There are two additional centres - at Siliguri town in West Bengal's Darjeeling district and Durgapur in Burdwan district - for blood collection,' group CEO Steven Fang told reporters here.Fang said stem cell therapies will also be developed at the Kolkata centre.'Cord blood has become a very common source of stem cells for transplantations. Permanent cures are possible for some diseases using stem cell therapies,' he said.'
At present, the Rs.100 million facility will be used only for storing and preserving cord blood. But within 18 months we will develop stem cell therapies for treating various diseases like heart ailments, diabetes, skin trauma, certain cancers like leukaemia and breast cancer, and blood disorders like thalassemia major,' Fang said.
Cordlife will invest Rs.300 million in 18-24 months to set up similar facilities across India.'First, we are targeting the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore followed by tier-two cities,' said Meghnath Roy Chowdhury, managing director (MD), Cordlife Sciences India Pvt Ltd.Cord blood, which is also called 'placental blood', is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth and after the cord is cut. Cord blood is routinely discarded with the placenta and umbilical cord.However, the cord blood, with its rich sources of blood stem cells, can be used to treat over 80 diseases.

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