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India's first menstrual blood bank to develop stem cells

May 26, 2009 15:51 IST

For the first time, the country will have a menstrual blood bank which would be used for developing stem cells to treat various disorders. Scientists say menstrual blood, which is discarded from the female body once a month and is often considered impure and unhygienic, is a rich source of stem cells.

Chennai-based LifeCell International, which brought cord blood banking to India, plans to launch its new project 'menstrual stem cell banking' in July.

"We are planning to launch the project in the month of July. It is a richer source of stem cell in comparison to bone marrow as it regenerates every month. Women can store their blood by paying a fee and this can be used when they need it for any treatment," Mayur Abhaya, Executive Director, LifeCell International said.

Menstrual blood can be used to develop nine different types of cells including heart, nerve, lung, muscle, liver, pancreatic, fat, bone and nerve cells that form the lining inside the blood vessels.

It is a painless non-invasive manner as compared to some other stem cell sources such as bone marrow," said Dr Ajit Kumar, chief scientific officer, LifeCell International.

"They could be used to treat patients without the fear of tissue rejection, and they avoid the ethical questions associated with embryonic stem cells," Dr Ajit added.

Disclosing the collection procedure, he said, "The collection kit constitutes a silicon cup that can collect up to 30 ml blood. We need only 10 ml blood. This is like any other sanitary napkin or tampon and it can last up to eight hours."

LifeCell International has already roped gynecologists to spread awareness about this new bank and its facilities. "Already 50 gynecologist have used the kit to check its efficacy. Any woman interested in putting her menstrual blood in the bank would consult her doctor first. That is why they have been involved in this." Dr Kumar explained.

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