LifeCell is strengthening its diagnostics and biologics business divisions

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on April 21, 2021

The company sees a surge in demand for these specialised services

LifeCell, a pioneer and market leader in stem cell banking, is strengthening its diagnostics and biologics business divisions amid surge in demand for these specialised services even as its core business - cord blood banking - is facing headwinds due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing accelerated growth in diagnostics business despite the Covid-19 pandemic. We continued to operate without a single day shutdown of business which is very important,” Mayur Abhaya, Managing Director, LifeCell International, told BusinessLine.

LifeCell, which is India’s first and largest stem cell bank, entered into the diagnostics division in 2017 and introduced Biologics division in 2018. Currently, the cord blood storage business accounts for about 60 per cent of the company’s revenue while the diagnostics business accounts for 35 per cent. Other services, including biologics division, contribute the remaining 5 per cent.

Abhaya explained that cord blood products are for the baby and their health which involves very high engagement with parents for decision making. However, with the lack of physical interaction opportunities due to the pandemic, LifeCell’s cord blood volumes have fallen by 20 per cent as compared to the pre-Covid period.

“Diagnostics business will be growing faster than the cord blood business. You will see the share of the diagnostics business continue to grow in the next few years,” he added.

LifeCell is one of the largest providers of Genomic testing in the reproductive mother-child space, offering preconception, prenatal and newborn testing services.

“Until a couple of years back, we were servicing only from Chennai but now we have presence in Gurgaon, Pune, Bengaluru and now Kolkata,” Abhaya said, adding, “We will be adding 2-3 centres this year to support the growth of the diagnostic business and we will have a network of 10 labs in the next 12-18 months.”

Abhaya also sees a huge opportunity for LifeCell’s recently launched Biologics products, both in India and overseas markets. Under this division, LifeCell has launched a series of products derived from Placental tissue (a medical waste) which is converted into a dried sterile tissue, which is used as advanced wound care products.

“Despite selling millions plus placental tissues, the market for these tissues in the US is still growing at 30 per cent year-on-year,” Abhaya said, adding, “besides the encouraging initial results in India, we also believe that there is an opportunity for global supply of these tissues.”

LifeCell is the first one to introduce placental tissue-based products in India and it is the only lab outside the US to have The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB’s) accreditation for supply of these tissues.

LifeCell, which closed FY21 with a turnover of ₹240 crore, is also looking to raise external funding in the current fiscal to meet its intended growth plans.

“The company is going to invest behind all the three categories -- storage of tissues, cord blood and diagnostics. The other area where the company will have more service launches available within the next few months is in the pre-pregnancy area,” Abhaya said.

Published on April 21, 2021

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