Spilling the beans, renowned stem cell experts on company’s panel revealed in a press conference on November 23 that money invested in traditional private cord blood banks are going down the drain and would rarely come handy when their children needed them. Breaking from the practice so far, Cellugen Biotech has introduced the concept of ‘Mycord Precious Pool Plan’ to create a large pool of umbilical cord blood units to be used in blood related ailments. Cellugen has claimed that its way is the only scientific way of doing it and usable when the time demands.
Lured by Bollywood divas like Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty being clients of such fishy cord blood banks, mothers are coming in droves to invest for their babies’ cord blood banking. Private stem cell banks in India are making a huge killing on the emotions of vulnerable mothers and laughing all the way to banks. By an estimate, they are coughing up over 500 crores annually to protect their newborn against blood-related disorders. But new revelations about futility of such banks are sure to give them run for their money. These banks, 7 in number in India, allegedly raised false hopes that one’s own cord blood stem cells can be used for more than 80 medical conditions.
Facts emerging point to a monumental fraud played on thousands of mothers. It could turn out to be the biggest bank scam. It is queer case of banks where you only deposit but draw nothing in return. Hope selling was done through triggering guilt feeling in mothers.
Lalit Jaiswal, Founder-Director, CelluGen Biotech, says, ‘we have redefined cord blood banking thoroughly scientifically. Our concept envisages that all cord blood units stored as part of private banking be made available in a cord blood pool to find the best matched cord blood unit for all clients. Matching is a must process in cord blood banking.’
He further says, ‘ ours is a revolutionary break from run of the mill private cord blood banks that allow persons access to only their own cord blood, making stem cell transplants unviable in a majority of cases. It is a scientifically proven fact that one’s own Cord Blood cannot be used for transplant in most blood related disorders as majority of conditions is genetic or inherited. In fact, the cord blood in such a case needs to be discarded.’ Jaiswal claimed that Mycord Precious Pool Plan is all set to revolutionise the treatment of hematological disorders in India for those who decide to bank their cord and become a part of the pool. As the pool continues to grow, so does the likelihood of finding the best matched cord.’
Dr. S P Yadav, Pediatric Hematologist, Medanta Hospital hit hard on current practice of stem cell banking. Without mincing words he said, ‘Private stem cell banks have been growing in India with parents investing over 500 crores annually to protect their newborn against blood-related disorders. Unfortunately, the private banks have been propagating that one’s own cord blood stem cells can be used in more for more than 80 medical problems, which is totally false.’
He further said, ‘The fact is that the possibility of utilising one’s own UCB for transplant in blood related disorders is less than 5 per cent. It is a well recognised scientific fact. To make umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants a viable option, accessing another person’s cord blood (allogenic) is the best solution.’
Umbilical Cord Blood Transplant (UCBT) has gained popularity as an efficacious treatment modality for various malignant and non-malignant hematological disorders, since the first successful UCBT was done in France in 1988. More than 35,000 successful cord blood transplants have since been performed worldwide.