UK’s Smart Cells Brings Stem Cell Storage To Forefront – Published online by Forbes
October 8, 2014 was Stem Cell Awareness day around the world. The topic of stem cells is something that garners both passionate accolades and criticism across the board.
A company called Smart Cells, a private UK stem cell storage company, is now the first to release stored stem cell units for the treatment of children with life-threatening illnesses such as thalassemia, leukaemia and cerebral palsy. They have released 10 samples to date which is the most out of any private company with five sample being releases in 2014 alone. Even though that number seems low, it indicates a small shift in public perception about stem cell storage.
New research by YouGov, commissioned by Smart Cells, shows that 32% of Britons didn’t know it was possible to store and donate umbilical cord blood and tissue, a rich source of stem cells which can be used to treat life threatening diseases.
It’s estimated that 400 patients each year miss out on treatment due to a lack of suitable stem cell donors. But, the research found only nine percent of patients stored cord blood when they gave birth; two percent privately and six percent donated to the National Health Service (NHS)
For patients with blood conditions like leukaemia, stem cell transplants can mean the difference between life and death. Clinical studies continue to explore whether stem cells can be used to treat other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and even reversing blindness.
The YouGov study also showed that 32 percent of the parents interviewed said their child’s health was the number one concern. The survey also revealed that even when people were aware they could store their cells, most choose not to.
Smart Cells began storing samples in 2001 and in 2005, they released their first sample for transplant.