Netcells Biosciences, Africa’s leading stem cell laboratory and cryogenic biobank, has confirmed that it has released its first cord blood unit for transplant. Not only is this a first for the Johannesburg-based facility, it is also the first cord blood unit to be released by a private stem cell bank in South Africa.
Netcells is the only bank in Africa to be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), which allowed the unit to be accepted by an American facility. In fact, all cord blood stem cells released by Netcells should be accepted by transplant centres across the world as they are processed, tested and stored according to validated international accreditation standards.
The stem cells were released to treat an eight-month-old baby boy at Duke University in North Carolina, USA. The patient is being treated for an emerging therapy and the stem cells have already been successfully infused. More details regarding treatment, however, cannot be given in order to protect the family’s privacy.
This milestone comes during Netcells’ tenth year of providing umbilical cord blood and tissue stem cell banking services, as well as a variety of related products and services.
Umbilical cord blood and stem cell banking is still a relatively novel concept in South Africa. However, new parents are increasingly opting to have their newborn babies’ stem cells extracted from their umbilical cords in order to safeguard their children’s future health. Stem cells are already widely used in the treatment of blood-related diseases and research into their use in everything from skin regeneration and neurology, to cardiology and reconstructive surgery continues to uncover future treatment possibilities.
More than 38 000 umbilical cord blood transplants have been carried out worldwide and this number is expected to grow exponentially as new treatments and therapies are developed and more parents become aware of the unique opportunity that umbilical cord blood preservation represents. Stem cells are available to be harvested from the adult body but this is often a more complicated procedure. Stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood, however, are abundant, healthy and have not yet developed an immune system, which makes them preferable for transplant.
Since its establishment in 2005, Netcells has spearheaded the movement for cord blood stem cell banking in South Africa and has introduced numerous innovations to the local market. Besides being the only provider in Africa to obtain international accreditation, the company was the first and only to carry out highly specific NAT testing on maternal bloods, as well as the first to introduce automated processing of cord blood stem cells. In addition, Netcells is the only local stem cell bank in South Africa offering Adipose tissue stem cell banking, semen cryopreservation, human heart valve preservation, amniotic membrane biological dressing and cord blood serum eye drops.
Besides its many medical innovations, Netcells Biosciences is leading the way when it comes to client service. Netcells was the first to offer its clients easy automated online registration and transparent all-inclusive pricing, plus interest free payment plans. Company policy demands that a Netcells representative meets with every client to ensure they are fully informed of the process – another unique first for the industry.
Netcell’s commitment to innovation, excellence and its client service, combined with its track record in the biosciences arena, has resulted in the company becoming Discovery Health’s preferred partner of choice for umbilical cord stem cell storage.
During the decade that Netcells has been in operation, the advances made in stem cell research have been astounding. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in the field of stem cell storage,” comments Dr Michelle Mason, Medical Officer at Netcells Biosciences. “All of us at Netcells are proud that a cord blood unit from our facility is being used for what we hope will be a life-changing treatment and we wish the family all the best.”