Stem cell banks face shortage as demand rises rapidly

  • 04:25 - 2018/04/02

The clinical application of stem cell therapy in Vietnam remains modest because of a shortage of stem cell products and high costs for research and application.

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The clinical application of stem cell therapy in Vietnam remains modest

In 2017, a four-month-old patient was hospitalized with a severe infection and increased pulmonary artery pressure due to prolonged mechanical ventilation.  The pediatric patient was at high mortality risk as traditional treatments did not work. After three months, the hospital conducted a stem cell transplant operation to treat pulmonary fibrosis by using stem cells from bone marrow and transmitting it into veins and through an endotracheal tube.

The patient survived.  According to Prof Truong Dinh Kiet, former deputy rector of the HCMC Medical & Pharmaceutical University, 18 hospitals in Vietnam can conduct treatment with stem cell therapy.  To date, about 500 patients have been treated with the umbilical cord blood therapy in Hanoi and HCMC, and the treatment process has been recognized by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

To date, about 500 patients have been treated with the umbilical cord blood therapy in Hanoi and HCMC, and the treatment process has been recognized by the Ministry of Health

An MOH report says there are 34 stem cell application centers, including institutes, universities, hospitals and enterprises. Stem cells have been used to treat about 20 different kinds of diseases. In early March 2018, MOH officially recognized the technique of treating osteoarthritis with stem cells.

Prior to that, Vietnamese research on use of stem cells in treating osteoarthritis was made public in Stem Cells Translational Medicine journal in July 2016. Van Hanh General Hospital and Nhan Dan 115 Hospital in HCMC are treating osteoarthritis with fat cells and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) taken from patients to extract stem cells. Nguyen Dinh Phu, deputy director of Nhan Dan 115 Hospital, said that knee osteoarthritis may begin at the age of 35. 

It costs about VND200 million to treat the disease in Asia and South East Asia. With stem cell extract technology, the treatment costs only VND50 million in Vietnam. In HCMC, there are two state-owned establishments that provide storage of stem cells.

The Hermatology and Blood Transfusion Hospital stores umbilical cord blood, while Mekostem accepts both umbilical cord blood and umbilical cord membranes. There are also private centers which store stem cells to provide to the healthcare and beauty care market, including GeneWorld Ltd, Tri PhuocBiotechnology, Van Hanh and Vinmec Stem Cell Centers.

Dr Pham Van Phuc from the HCMC Stem Cell Institute said the demand for using stem cells in treatment and beauty care has increased rapidly.  However, it is estimated that results of only 30 percent of research projects have been applied in real life.

Chi Mai

Source: VietNamNet

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