Hemabank recently celebrated its fifth anniversary as the combination laboratory and storage facility for cell materials, where scientists create technologies for isolating stem cells from the cord blood, which is collected at delivery. Today, only 0.33% of child deliveries in Russia are accompanied with the extraction of cord blood for further isolation and storage of stem cells. This figure is significantly lower than Germany (1.9%) and the United States (5%).
According to a Hemabank spokesperson:
Russia now has four banks of stem cells. First is the donor bank, containing “anonymous” cells for transplanting to any recipient who fits them genetically. Cell collection of the Russian donor bank is not very large and finding genetically compatible material there can often be quite difficult.”
The stem cells of cord blood containing a newborn’s genetic material are stored in special containers at 193 degrees centigrade below zero. This material is vital for the treatment of burns, injuries and leukemia. It seems feasible that in the very near future, stem cell technologies will play a major role in the treatment and possibly even the cure of diabetes, ischemic heart disease, heart stroke, apoplectic attack, autoimmune diseases and liver cirrhosis.
A Russian oncology science centre began the storage of stem cells some five years ago. Although more than 8,000 transplantations of stem cells from cord blood took place all over the world, and 900 of them were in Europe, only 12 transplantations have been performed in Russia since 2001, and only four medical centers have the necessary facilities. The reason for this is because until 2003, there were no official regulations pertaining to this issue in Russia. Even today, the laws are not clearly defined as far as clinical practice is concerned. Many transplant centers have no experience working with cord blood banks, and the state doesn’t financially support these centers.
Russian scientists have patented the technology for the extraction of stem cells from cord blood and are constantly striving to push their findings forward.
Will stem cell research always be a topic of great controversy?
It would appear that the answer to that question remains to be seen.