About National Stem Cell Registry

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)
  • thalassaemia,
  • sickle-cell anaemia,
  • haemophilia
  • 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.
  • Effects
    • 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.
  • Effects
    • Prolonged bleeding


About Sickle-cell anaemia

A detailed note on Sickle-cell amaemia was provided in an earlier post: