Magic Of Stem Cells: Boon For Women

I am neither an expert in the area of regenerative medicine nor a researcher of stem cells. I am a passionate parent and women issues enthusiast.

My interest in the well-being of my child made me find out more about stem cell banking. Stem cells are magical cells which have the potential to develop into specialized cells of different types which can then be used for replacement IF our normal cells get damaged. We get stem cells from embryos at the time of a baby’s birth which can be stored for future use in case that baby suffers from any disease like malignant tumours/cancer/arthritis, after growing up.

Stem cells are unspecialized. They are like potatoes in Indian curries. Potatoes have no specialty of their own but start functioning with every vegetable, rice dishes or savoury delicacies. Similarly, unspecialized stem cells give rise to specialized cells like heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells.

Why / how is it useful ?

Stem cells taken from embryos during invitro fertilization are clinically grown for future use. Any woman using IVF treatment to become a mother must insist on storage of these cells as they could be used for treatment of cardiovascular disease, brain disease and diabetes in future.

Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord and placenta after childbirth have hematopoietic cells which can treat diseases like leukaemia, sickle cell anemia and other immunodeficiency’s.

We should consider this expenditure as an insurance plan for the future of the child and his/her siblings.

Its not too late

While reading about stem cells, I came across another method of taking and storing stem cells from adults. It was a surprising, exhilarating and liberating moment for me. These stem cells are found in menstrual blood of women and need to be stored as a valuable source of treating fatal diseases. The uterine lining, excess blood and tissues that the body discards during menstruation are rich sources of mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells have the ability to differentiate into almost all types of cells in the body. The unbelievable part is that these mesenchymal cells can cure ailments like blood cancer, arthritis and to regenerate decaying organs.

As women and mothers, we should make efforts to store our menstrual blood as well as that of our daughters. The research about generative qualities of menstrual blood are going on at various medical institutes.

Dr. Shunichiro Miyoshi, a cardiologist from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, collected menstrual blood from 6 women and harvested endometrial stem cells. They were able to obtain 30 million stem cells from a single menstrual blood cell.

Cryo cell is the world’s largest stem cell bank while Lifecell International launched menstrual blood stem cell banking service in India in 2011.

Though I am not an authority on stem cell, I certainly wish to ensure that future of my daughter’s as well as my health remains bright. Lifecell, a stem cell storage service provider started its service Femme for women in order to make them aware about menstrual blood storage. Lisa Ray, the cancer survivor, got cured using her adult stem cells and she started promoting Femme.

I am still surprised that I never heard about this wellness breakthrough in last five years. No gynaecologist or oncologist or paediatrician ever spoke to me about storing my own menstrual blood. Though storing it with the help of a menstrual cup will not be comfortable, it is better than losing our own lives.

Let us try to find out more to ensure a healthy future.

By Dr. Swati Lodha
Founder, Life Lemonade