About National Stem Cell Registry
- It will be a government managed database of unrelated bone-marrow donors.
- The database will be created by linking 5 existing stem cell registries in India.
- It is being set up primarily to find matching donors for treating patients with blood-related disorders such as
- blood cancers (lymphoma, leukemia)
- sickle-cell anaemia,
- The database will not contain stem cells but only buccal swab samples from cheek. (See HLA Match below)
- The registration to the database is voluntary.
Need for National Stem Cell Registry
- Some diseases cured only using stem-cells
- Blood-related disorders like thalassaemia require frequent blood transfusions.
- The only cure for blood related disorders is bone-marrow transplantation.
- Demand-Supply mismatch
- According to estimates, about 3.5-5.0 lakh people in India suffer from life-threatening blood-related disorders.
- As a result, there is a demand of more than 2.5 lakh stem cell transplantations in India.
- However, the number of matching donors is extremely low.
- Only 30% of the patients are being treated because of sibling match. (sibling match is a perfect match)
- Only 10-12% of the patients find donors through private registries in India.
- High Cost
- The global stem cell registries have very few Indians registered.
- Thus, even if an unrelated match is found in a foreign country, the cost of transplantation becomes very high.
- As a result a national level registry will increase the probability of finding unrelated matching donors.
Matching Donors: HLA Match
- For bone-marrow transplantation, human leukocyte antigen match must be established between donor and patient. In simple words, the donor and patient should have exactly the same white blood cell type.
- Siblings usually have the exact HLA match and thus suitable for bone-marrow transplantations.
Basics on Blood-Related Disorders
- Blood-related disorders are classified under rare-diseases in India.
- Major life-threatening blood related disorder are given below.
- Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that reduces the production of haemoglobin (oxygen carriers) in the RBCs of the blood.
- Excessive destruction of red blood cells leading to anaemia.
- Haemophilia is a blood-related inherited disorder that restricts the ability of blood to clot.
- Males are most likely to be affected by Haemophilia.
- Prolonged bleeding
About Sickle-cell anaemia
A detailed note on Sickle-cell amaemia was provided in an earlier post: