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Is stem cell banking useful?

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Dr. Madhuri N Bagde

OBGYN

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 1390 Questions

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Posted on Tue, 5 Aug 2014 in Women's Health
Question: My Wife is pregnant and i am looking at to bank "Stem Cell" from Cryo Bank.
Just need a suggestion that should i move for this banking or is it wrothless.
Pl suggest...
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Answered by Dr. Madhuri N Bagde 56 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Detailed answer below.

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

I understand your query and will be guiding you.

Stem cell banking is a novel concept that is still undergoing a lot of research. First let me clarify what will be most likely done and the reasons and logic behind it and then you can check it out with your company that you want to get associated with.

We are now in an era where a genetic cure to certain diseases is possible. Certain conditions like bone marrow transplant show best results if the cells that are transplanted come either from the person itself or from a near or dear one. All individuals are unique and yet we do share some similarity with each other as we are all human beings. This similarity and uniqueness both lies in some entities in our genes called HLA. So everyone has some uniqueness in thier HLA while some part is common in every one. People of one family and especially first degree relatives like parents and children or second degree relatives like aunts and uncles share a lot of part of HLA in common. So when there is a need to donate organs or bone marrow etc then it is more likely that donors from a family will match more than other people and the procedure will be successful as the donated part will be less likely rejected by the patients body. So this is the basic of it.

Now about what happens with cell banking. The cells that are present in the umbilical cord are unique as they are the cells that can potentially give rise to different types of cells. So we hope in future that we may be able to produce organs like for example pancreas [ the one that makes insulin that helps to control diabetes] from these cells. So if the person whose cells are banked or a family member gets diabetes this new pancreas can be transplanted inside and remove the need for medicines and the disease will be cured. These are still hypothetical concepts and research is going on. Currently more focus is on bone marrow transplant in case a person needs it and skills for these are available. We do not know the future about how things will span from here on and in future we may be able to develop other organs like heart or liver or lung etc. But when this will happen we do not know.

As you must have understood that the likelihood of needing a bone marrow transplant in any baby or a near and dear family member is extremely low. Also the cost that will be involved in all the process even if a transplant is needed will be very high and so you must be in a position to bear it at that time.

Also many companies keep the cells for a limited time under your name. Most of the time they do it for 10 years which is hardly sufficient time to allow the baby whose stems are stored to develop diabetes or similar chronic condition. Once the fixed time is over they tend to shift the cells to a common pool where they can be availed by any one in need by paying money and so your cells may not be available if you need them in future. This is an unfortunate way that the innocent people are being cheated by these companies as ultimately they sell these cells that you have paid to keep.

A few companies also provide a long term storage at additional cost.

So please check and see the package that these companies are providing. The concept is very good and may be very useful in future as genetics is a branch where maximum research is going on. But the catch is that they should provide you with a long term package that ensures that the cells will be available when needed by you or your family. So talk this out and negotiate this with the cell banker and the decide about it.

I have tried to explain it as best as I could.

I am always here to satisfy any further queries that you may have though I may not be able to comment on individual companies.

Hope this satisfies your query.
Thanks for using HCM.     
Feel free to ask any more questions that you may have.
Dr Madhuri Bagde
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Bhagyalaxmi Nalaparaju
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