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Current Affairs

Stem cell banking

Date: 28 January 2020 Tags: Biotechnology


Stem cell banking or preservation is the extraction, processing and storage of stem cells, so that they may be used for treatment in the future, when required.



Stem cells

  • Stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood are like those taken from bone marrow, capable of producing all blood cells: red cells, platelets and immune system cells.

  • When used, stem cells are first concentrated, and then injected into the patient. Once transfused, they produce new cells of every kind.

  • They're capable of producing all types of blood cells: red cells, platelets and immune system cells.

  • The stem cells can treat around 70 blood related disorders and genetic disorders including thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia, leukaemia, and immune related disorders.

Harvesting stem cells

The blood collected from the umbilical cord of the newborn is a rich source of stem cells. This blood is collected and sent to a cord blood bank, where the stem cells are separated, tested, processed, and preserved in liquid nitrogen. Technically, there is no expiry date and these stem cells can be preserved for a lifetime.



  • The primary disadvantage of cord blood banking is that it isn’t a cheap procedure and many families may not be able to afford it. 

  • The odds that any given child will need their cord blood are only about 1 in 217. So it may prove to be unnecessary expenditure.

  • Current research suggests that cord blood can be stored for a maximum of 15 years. New technologies in this field may extend that timeframe in the future, but how that would affect current samples stored is unknown.