India's first stem cell transplant centre to go on stream in June 2006

Chennai: The country's first stem cell transplant centre, LifeCell, will be ready by June 2006 at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai. Announcing this, S Abhaya Kumar, CEO, Asia Cryo Cell Private Limited said, "This will be a joint venture between Asia Cryo Cell and Sri Ramachandra Medical." Asia Cryo Cell is the country's first private cord blood bank and Sri Ramachandra Medical is a deemed university.

As reported earlier (See: Banking on stem cells) the centre will focus on haematological and oncological ailments and expand into other areas. According to Prof. Krishna G Seshadri, vice president, Sri Ramachandra Health International, "We will be expanding our facilities by constructing a seven story building. One full floor (15,000 sq.ft) will be given for the stem cell transplant centre. Stem cells are the master cells responsible for the production of all other cells in the body - that have the ability to regenerate into other cells in the body. Normally, stem cells are found in bone marrow.

According to Kumar, the transplantation will be done be experienced professionals and talks are on to rope many such hands. "The investment for this centre will be around Rs15 crore." The centre will also conduct clinical trials for stem cell based therapies and manufacturing partnerships to India.

He also added that, Asia Cryo Cell and Sri Ramachandra Medical would jointly own the intellectual property rights (IPR) generated in the centre. For research the source of stem cell is an issue and Kumar says they would go for adult stem cells and not the embryonic cells.