By GABRIEL OLAWALE
A team of scientists from Smart Cells International, United Kingdom, has urged Nigerians to embrace the practice of preserving their children’s stem cells at birth.
Speaking in Lagos, Chief Executive Officer, Cytogene Services Ltd, Dr. Diana Hamzeh said preservation of umbilical blood could preserve stem cells that have proved to be a potential source in restoring and giving a new life for possible treatment of life – threatening diseases such as bone marrow transplant in the future to patients who have little or no hope.
The event – the 2nd Annual Medical Seminar organised in partnership with Cytogene Services Ltd., Hamzeh said: “As a mother, you can store your baby’s stem cells immediately you put to bed. The trouble is that cord blood has to be prepared and frozen soon after birth of your baby and storing child’s stem cells at birth is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Hamzeh noted that stem cells have recorded success over cancers, genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia, and irreversible tissue damage.
“Blood from your baby’s umbilical cord contains stem cells. Stem cells are the building blocks of other cells in your baby’s body. Stem cells can develop into blood cells which fight infection, carry oxygen around the body and help with blood clotting. These same blood cells are the ones which are affected in diseases such as leukaemia and other conditions of the blood, such as sickle cell anaemia.
“Storing a child’s stem cell would be a great advantage for such child in case of any complication and the chances of it being a match for your other children is relatively high,” she observed.
Metabolic and immune system disorders such as leukemia, high risk solid tumours, traumatic brain injury, autism, cerebral palsy, sight restoration among others can be treated with stem cells which can develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth.
They are unspecialised cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions.
Head of Human Dermatology and Coordinator of Stem Cell Transplant Unit, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Dr. Godwin Bazuaye regretted that if the practice of preserving stem cell had been embraced for long in Nigeria, the issue of people searching for a match during bone marrow transplant would have been a thing of the past.