Istanbul health company Onkim keeping umbilical cord blood for research
Onkim Stem Cell Technologies, which was established in 2006 at Istanbul Technical University’s Ayazağa Campus, recently realized its 15th umbilical cord blood transplantation at the Çukurova University Balcalı Hospital for the treatment of crescent-cell anemia.
The health center, which banks umbilical cord blood and tissue under Good Manufacturing Practice conditions, is a special firm that supports research and development studies with contributions from Turkish businesswoman Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan. It started collecting cord blood after getting a certificate from the Ministry of Health in December 2008.
Up to now, eight umbilical cord blood samples stored in Onkim laboratories have been used in transplants. Seven of these were used for treatment of thalassemia, while the others were used for autologous transplantation for the treatment of neuroblastoma.
The importance of umbilical cord blood comes from the fact that Wharton’s jelly in the umbilical cord tissue is rich in Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are responsible for producing necessary cells for bone, muscle, cartilage, nerves and connective tissue. When MSCs come to an injured or burned place, they can repair this region.
MSCs can also regulate the immune system, and they are used for the prevention of Graft versus host Disease (GvhD) in patients subjected to blood, tissue and organ transplantations. Rejection of the transplanted tissue becomes difficult when MSCs are transplanted to patients.