UAE stem cell bank offers 5-year free storage


UAE stem cell bank offers 5-year free storage

Dubai - "We hope to have 200 children enrolled in this (initiative)"


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Wed 23 Jan 2019, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Wed 23 Jan 2019, 11:30 PM

A stem cell bank is offering free storage for five years for families whose children suffer from blood disorders and may need treatment in the future.

The stem cells will be stored at Cryo Save Arabia free of cost for five years and can be used to treat disorders such as leukaemia and sickle cell anaemia.

Families may be eligible if a family member has been diagnosed with certain cancers or blood, immune and metabolic disorders, which may require a stem cell transplant. They may also qualify if their newborn is at risk of a medical condition like cerebral palsy and autism, for which stem cells are currently being investigated as a potential treatment option.

Mai Ibrahim, COO of CryoSave Arabia, said the stem cell bank would be coordinating with Jalila Hospital and Kids with Cancer in this regard.

"We hope to have 200 children enrolled in this (initiative). We want more people to benefit from stem cell treatment," she told Khaleej Times.

"This programme is a way for us to provide a safety net to children at risk of a number of medical conditions, while helping advance the science of regenerative medicine."

The stem cells are taken from the umbilical cord or bone marrow and the blood and tissue are stored at the facility for up to 30 years at a cost of Dh18,500.

However, patients need to travel abroad for the transplant since it is not allowed in the UAE.

"We also help patients who want to be part of clinical trials, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, for five years, treating diseases such as autism, diabetes and hearing loss," Ibrahim said.

A growing body of published data suggests that a child's own stem cells from the umbilical cord may play an important role in helping the body repair damages to nerve and brain tissue. "Most people have no clue where to go to be part of these trials, especially since diabetes is big here," she said.

The centre has a mix of patients with Emiratis mostly suffering from diseases such as thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia.

It has also done three transplant releases since its opening 20 years ago, 30,000 samples are stored in the UAE laboratory and 350,000 samples are stored for the entire group.

Omar Oumeish, executive director of the Dubai Healthcare City Authority, said: "We believe that stem cells will play a very important role in future medicine and will benefit so many children in our community who are at risk of certain diseases."

The group opened a new laboratory in Dubai Healthcare City on Wednesday that can store a million samples. 

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