Vietnam to have regional-standard stem cell center
By Thoa Nguyen - The Saigon Times Daily
HANOI – The National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion is to put its stem cell center into operation in the next quarter to serve hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, the most advanced blood disease treatment at present.
The biggest difficulty in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the limited source of donors since the country’s population policy encourages each family to have only two children, said Nguyen Anh Tri, head of the hematology institute. Stem cells can only be collected from blood siblings, making it difficult for patients who were previously in need of homologous bone marrow transplants.
When the center starts operation, it will facilitate the national stem cell program, mobilizing some 200,000-300,000 people to sign up for donation, solving the shortage of stem cell reserve.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been applied in many countries. However, most countries follow the traditional method, meaning to completely remove the bone marrow of the recipient to create environment for stem cells to develop.
Meanwhile, the national hematology institute is applying minimum marrow removal method, then transplanting the stem cells that will develop under the immune mechanism. This method generates big economic efficiency with the cost for a case of stem cell transplant equal to 30-50% of the expenses in other countries, or some VND150-350 million each case.
In addition, the number of patients going abroad for stem cell transplant will sharply drop, reducing foreign currency drain out of the country and fetching more revenues for Vietnamese hospitals.
Tri said the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation technology has been transferred to several hospitals such as Military Hospital 108 and Viet Duc Hospital. Technology transfer will be promoted in the coming time for widespread application in hospitals across the nation, offering more chances for blood disease patients.