The Tamil Nadu Government has given a grant of Rs 9 crore to the Public Cord Blood Bank established by the Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre in Chennai to process and store about 3,000 cord blood donations from Tamil Nadu. The money will be disbursed over three years.
“This will be a major boost to public cord blood banking in India; this area can flourish only with government patronage. I hope other States will follow the TN government’s example,” said Dr. P Srinivasan, Co-Founder and Chairman of Jeevan.
Umbilical cord blood, which is discarded after childbirth, is one of the richest sources of blood forming stem cells and is being used across the world for over two decades for the treatment of blood cancers, Thalassemia and blood disorders, he said.
But for this the HLA (Human Leucocyte Antigen) matching of the donor and the recipient is critical for the successful transplant of stem cells. This depends on the ethnicity of the patient and donor. In the absence of an Indian inventory, the chances of an Indian finding a match is less than 10 per cent across the world.
“Even if one is lucky enough to find a match elsewhere, it will cost the patient close to Rs. 20 lakh to import it”, he added.
Other State governments should come forward to create a larger national inventory so that different groups in India can find a match to cure diseases. Dr Srinivasan said patients from Tamil Nadu will get free of cost stem cells from Jeevan.