Smart Cells establishes base in Italy
25 March 2009
London-based Smart Cells International, the UK's longest-established
cord blood stem cell processing and storage organisation, has
established a base in Milan, Italy, with a joint venture with Laborest,
one of Italy's leading pharmaceutical businesses.
Cord blood stem cells are extracted from the umbilical cord at birth,
and can be stored and used to treat illness or disease in the future.
"The launch of the partnership is timed to coincide with the opening
of Smart Cells' new processing and storage facility near London's
Heathrow Airport. We are now able to collect cord blood samples anywhere
in Italy and swiftly deliver them to the UK facility, which is
acknowledged as being perhaps the most advanced in Europe," said Dr
Peter Hollands of Smart Cells International.
"This venture will therefore provide every family in Italy with the
opportunity to store their baby's cord blood stem cells. There is
enormous benefit to be gained from cord blood stem cell collection. Cord
blood stem cells collected at birth can be transplanted and used as a
method of treating many diseases, and they can be used to help either
the donor or other family members.
"Cord blood stem cells are currently used in the treatment of blood
related disorders such as leukaemia and thalassaemia — there being a
much higher incidence of thalassaemia around the Mediterranean, and
certainly in southern Italy and Sicily.
"But ongoing scientific research has also shown the potential of
umbilical cord blood stem cells in the possible treatment of a wide
variety of medical conditions which may benefit from tissue repair or
regeneration, such as nerve or tissue damage.
"However, we have as much of an educational challenge in Italy as we
have everywhere else in the world: many new parents don't appreciate
that there is only one short window in which to collect arguably the
most valuable source of stem cells — from the umbilical cord, at birth.
"There is still some confusion over the different sources of stem
cells. They can be collected in several ways — from blood or bone marrow
— but cord blood is vastly more valuable as a source of stem cells than
other known sources of cells.
"If the umbilical cord, and the cord blood, are disposed of at birth,
then there will never be another chance to collect these stem cells.
"Stem cells are highly-specialised cells which, when stimulated to do
so, have the capability to produce many types of cell and tissue found
in the human body."
Smart Cells has stored more than 16,000 cord blood stem cell units
from babies' umbilical cords collected immediately after birth.
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