Chennai-based LifeCell International, India’s largest umbilical cord stem cell bank is looking at raising funds for its new venture public stem cell banking. The company said the funds will be used for infrastructure, expansion and marketing.
The public stem cell banking—which will allow anyone to receive stem cells that match their requirements from a storage facility—is being implemented through LifeCell Foundation, a non-profit venture.
LifeCell has already raised Rs 18 crore. Of this, Shriram group chairman R Thiagarajan, one of the promoters of LifeCell, has contributed Rs 2.5 crore and Mayur Abhaya, MD & CEO of LifeCell, has given 2.5 crore of his own money. Another donor who did not want to be identified contributed Rs 2.5 crore. LifeCell has put in Rs 10 crore.
“We will be investing Rs 30 crore for public stem cell banking. We have Rs 18 crore now and need more funds which will be raised through contributions and institutional funds,” Abhaya said.
The firm is looking at creating an inventory of 10,000 units over the next three-five years, which will be stored in Chennai. LifeCell has estimated that around 100 patients can be saved in one year through this initiative. In ten years the firm is aiming to have 1,000 transplants. The public stem cells will be listed in all the national and international registry.
“Today 80% of people are unable to find a stem cell match,” Abhaya added.
Stem cells collected from the umbilical cord blood and can be preserved at cryogenic conditions and be used for decades. These cells can be used to treat diseases and injury.
“The stem cells collected will be preserved at LifeCell’s Chennai facility. We have enough capacity there,” said V Ravi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, LifeCell.
In 2013, the Tamil Nadu government had allocated a grant of Rs 9 crore to Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre for its public cord blood bank. Tamil Nadu was the second government after the United States to allocate funds for such an initiative.
The India stem cell industry is estimated to be $540 million (Rs 3,250 crore) by 2015.