In less than three years, the package cost of a stem cell transplant procedure in India, that could cure a malignancy or thalassaemia, should come down below Rs 6 lakh, against “an average of $18,000” to simply procure a unit of umbilical cord blood (UCB) in the US.

LifeCell, India’s first exclusive cord blood stem cell banking service headquartered in Chennai holding out this hope, plans to set up its marketing hub in Calcutta by the first quarter of next year, also bringing its cell therapies and public banking services to the city.

It already has UCB banking tie-ups with Woodlands, ILS, Belle Vue and Bhagirathi Neotia Woman and Child Care Centre in Calcutta. Alliances for therapy centres are being worked out.

LifeCell, which launched its Chennai facility, set up at a cost of $4 million, this March, is the result of a collaboration between Asia CRYO-CELL and CRYO-CELL International (CCI).

LifeCell, which has set up the country’s first dedicated stem cell transplant centre at Sri Ramachandra Medical Center of Excellence in Chennai, is planning a cardio-vascular transplant centre by early 2007.

Its public banking services will become operational next month, for which, LifeCell will tie up with leading hospitals across the country. The company hopes to launch the Cord Blood Registry before the year-end with 1,000 samples.

The main objective of a stem cell transplant is the need to reconstitute a patient’s blood and immune system, following treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which destroy blood cells.

The haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are infused directly into the patient’s blood stream, and subsequently migrate to the bone marrow.

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