04 December, 2020

A Bit Of Me, Frozen For Years

Stem cell banks are sprouting where the cells can be put in the safe deposit. But will it work?

Tribhuvan Tiwari
A Bit Of Me, Frozen For Years
Traditional midwives have always known the salubrious properties of the umbilical cord—they often wrap it in cloth and tie it to the cradle, or have it powdered and fed to infertile women. Medical researchers have discovered more recently that the blood inside the umbilical cord is a valuable source of stem cells. Now private facilities are springing up to help parents bank their newborn's cord blood—for Rs 75,000, they will preserve it in frozen state for 21 years, in case the child someday needs those stem cells to treat a serious ailment. Manu Tyagi, a Delhi management consultant, is one of an estimated 12,000 Indians who have already banked their child's cord blood, making cord blood banking a highly profitable business. But are its claims based on scientific evidence?

Cord blood stem cells have two advantages over donor stem cells: there is no risk of immunological mismatch, and there is no delay while finding a donor. But they have also been found to be...



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