Romania’s first stem cell compatibility case

“We have had three requests so far, but they were all incompatible cases. We are now processing a fourth request, where the brothers seem to be a perfect match. The case involves a mother from the Republic of Moldova, who gave birth in the northeastern Romanian city of Iaşi for the specific intent to obtain the sampling, as she needs this for her other child,” Sergiu Habago, General Manager of Cord Blood Center (CBC), the first authorized company in Romania able to offer “family banking” placental blood, told Business Standard. The stem cell market could amount to 12,000-15,000 samplings this year, compared to about 8,000 last year.

Increasingly more parents, up to as many as eight percent of births, are choosing to preserve a blood sampling of their newborn, to ensure that in the future, the child or another member of the family will have this available for the treating of certain illnesses. The cost of taking such a sampling is some €800-900, and the annual fee for its preservation, to be paid later on, ranges from €50-70. “Treatment with own biological products is the final frontier in medicine. There are about 70 illnesses which can be treated with stem cells. For instance, 1,700 individuals are diagnosed with leukaemia in Romania every year, one of the highest rates in Europe. In Spain, where the practice of samplings taken at birth is widespread, and part of a program covered by the national insurance system, leukaemia has been taken off the list of terminal illnesses,” said Bogdan Ivănescu, General Manager of Stem Sure Solutions.

There are already six companies operating on the local stem cell market, and most of these process and preserve samples abroad. Local stem cell banks were opened by the CBC market leader, with some 15,000 samples taken over time, and the Unirea Medical Center (CMU) private healthcare service provider, that opened its own bank recently. According to certain U.S. statistics, the probability of a person needing such cells is 1:330 “We take about 900 samples monthly and target 10,000 samples this year,” Habago indicated. CBC registered four requests for using a stem cell sample to resolve the health problems of siblings of the donor. Slovakia reported seven similar requests to date. Although the local market continues to grow, Habago said that the market is maturing, as the growth pace is slower. The players on the stem cell market are Cord Blood Center, Biogenis, Criosave, Stem Sure, and CMU.

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