Iran home to largest cord blood bank in Mid­dle East

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE -

TEHRAN — Iran has the largest store of cord blood sam­ples in Mid­dle East by hav­ing col­lected 110,000 sam­ples, an­nounced the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Royan In­sti­tute for Stem Cell Bi­ol­ogy.

A cord blood bank is a fa­cil­ity which stores um­bil­i­cal cord blood for fu­ture use. Cord blood contains hematopoi­etic stem cells and are cur­rently used to treat blood and im­mune sys­tem re­lated ge­netic dis­eases, can­cers, and blood dis­or­ders.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Morteza Zarrabi, Iran is now among the top ten con­tain­ers of hematopoi­etic stem cells, IRNA re­ported on Thurs­day.

Zarrabi added that stor­ing cord blood sam­ples have started in the coun­try since 2005 and cur­rently 400 hos­pi­tals are con­tribut­ing to the col­lec­tion process.

“There are both pub­lic and pri­vate cord blood banks in Royan, but Ira­nian Blood Trans­fu­sion Or­ga­ni­za­tion and Shariati Hos­pi­tal only have pub­lic banks,” said Zarrabi.

Pub­lic cord blood banks ac­cept do­na­tions to be used for any­one in need, and as such func­tion like pub­lic blood banks. Pri­vate cord blood banks store cord blood solely for po­ten­tial use by the donor or donor’s fam­ily.

Ac­cord­ing to Royan’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, the in­sti­tu­tion’s pri­vate bank charges 32 mil­lion ri­als (around $760) for the col­lec­tion and around 400,000 ri­als (around $9.5) a year for stor­age of cord blood sam­ples.

Pri­vate banks typ­i­cally charge $2,000 for the col­lec­tion and around $200 a year for stor­age.

“We also have of­fices in the United Arab Emi­rates and Iraq and ac­cept cord blood sam­ples from them as well,” Zarrabi fur­ther re­marked.

■ Few cord blood trans­plants are hap­pen­ing

“De­spite our large stor­age of stem cells, there are un­for­tu­nately few trans­plant and cell ther­apy cen­ters in the coun­try,” Zarrabi re­gret­ted.

“Up to now, we have done 30 cord blood stem cell trans­plants for pa­tients with blood dis­or­ders and 120 clin­i­cal­trial trans­plants for pa­tients with brain paral­y­sis.”

“An­nu­ally, we need around 3,000 bone mar­row trans­plants, but there has been only a to­tal of 3,500 bone mar­row trans­plants in the coun­try over the last ten years. There are a num­ber of rea­sons for such few trans­plants, in­clud­ing the small num­ber of trans­plant cen­ters, the short­age of doc­tors, and the high ex­penses of such pro­ce­dures.”

“As for trans­plant ex­penses, the for­mer health min­is­ter be­lieved that the trans­plants must be free of charge; how­ever, it in­curs high costs on the hos­pi­tals; sub­se­quently, many of them are re­luc­tant to do such pro­ce­dures.”

Ac­cord­ing to Zarrabi, ev­ery cord blood trans­plant costs around 60 to 70 mil­lion ri­als ($14,000 to $16,000).

Stor­ing cord blood sam­ples have started in the coun­try since 2005 and cur­rently 400 hos­pi­tals are con­tribut­ing to the col­lec­tion process in Iran.

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