Gaborone could have stem cell storage facility this year

Gaborone could have stem cell storage facility this year

LAWRENCE SERETSE Correspondent

Speaking to Mmegi this week, Mngqibisa said Parliament was set to pave the way for the facility by means of legislation in July and that Cryo-Save intended approaching government about storing stem cells for every Motswana.

"Stem cells are the basic building blocks of our bodies and are often referred to as 'master cells,'" she said.

"And because stem cells have the potential to become almost any other cell in the body, stem cell therapies are the way of the future."

Stem cell treatment is applied to over 70 diseases and disorders, among them leukemia, lymphoma, blood cancers and bone marrow disorders like aplastic anaemia and sickle cell disease.

Mngqibisa said patients requiring a haemopoietic stem transplant will receive cells from one or three sources of bone marrow, circulating blood or umbilical cord blood.

"It is much easier to match transplant patients with immune naive cord blood stem cells than with the other sources of stem cells," she explained. "Umbilical cord blood stem cells are the most naive stem cells, hence they are best harvested from the baby at birth before they are exposed to infections and immune reactions."

She said transplant patients recovered better when they received stem cells from a related donor rather than from an unrelated donor. Brain tumors, lung cancer, plasma cell leukemia, anaemia and osteopetrosis.

Multiple sclerosis and diabetes can also help in tissue building like skin burn repairs. The newborn may be able to use his or her cord blood for some of the conditions on a long list, but not all. In some cases, a matching sibling stem cell would be the first choice.

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Gaborone could have stem cell storage facility this year

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