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Our humble submission regarding ICMR's recommendation to suspend commercial banking of stem cells from cord tissue, menstrual blood and few other biological materials

The Fundamental Right To Protect

We at ReeLabs firmly believe that every individual has the right to protect their family and do what is in the best interest for them. Multiple studies from leading scientists from developed nations like the US, EU and Japan have shown beyond doubt the potential of stem cells to treat a multitude of medical conditions. India has seen a rapid growth in stem cell research and banking. Besides cord blood, highly potent and viable stem cells are available from sources like the cord tissue, placenta, amniotic sac, amniotic fluid, dental pulp, adipose tissue, menstrual fluid and bone marrow. Millions of families have reposed faith in stem cell banking as a form of biological insurance for their loved ones.

However, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recently made recommendations in its national guidelines for stem cell research (2017) and is looking at suspending commercial banking of stem cells derived from biological materials such as cord tissue, placenta, tooth extract and menstrual blood. Where internationally acclaimed regulatory bodies such as USFDA, AABB have acknowledged and accredited cord tissue banking, in India these guidelines severely and negatively impact the future potential of stem cell treatments.

Sources like the placenta, amniotic sac and amniotic fluid, which some consider to be the best sources of stem cells due to the quality and quantity of stem cells available, may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many parents. In fact, the first amniotic fluid banking facility was set up in the United States where the laws on stem cell banking are much tightly regulated. These new ill-conceived guidelines mean that these sources will be discarded as 'biological waste'.

In the end, we have to realize that stem cell banking means just 'storing of stem cells' to be used in future if required. If the guidelines were concerned about other aspects like treatment, it would have made more sense to regulate the issue of banked stem cells rather than banning storage itself.

We humbly request ICMR to reconsider the new guidelines in the interest of the people.

Further read: Clinical Trials of Cord Blood and Umbilical Cord Tissue