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Saneron sets up Indian arm for stem cell research

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Mr S. Abhaya Kumar (right), Chairman, Saneron India, with Mr Prasad Mangipudi, Vice-President - Marketing, LifeCell, at a press conference to launch its operations in India, in Mumbai on Thursday. — Paul Noronha

Chennai , Dec. 29

SANERON CCEL Therapeutics Inc, an affiliate of CRYO-CELL International Inc, a leading cord-blood bank in the US, has launched its Indian arm, Saneron India, to set up stem cell centres in major cities, according to a release.

The Indian arm will be based in Chennai and its Chairman will be Mr S. Abhaya Kumar, who is the CEO of LifeCell and co-Chairman of Saneron Asia.

LifeCell, a company in stem cell banking, research, and therapy, has a collaboration and licence agreement with CRYO-CELL International for umbilical cord stem cell banking.

Quoting Dr Paul R. Sanberg, Chairman and Founder of Saneron CCEL, the release said that the company would bring world-class stem cell research and therapy to India.

According to the release, Saneron India will work on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and stroke trial patients.

ALS is a common form of motor neuron disease that affects over 30,000 people with 5,000 new cases being identified every year in the US alone.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, and the third in the US.

Saneron Asia and Saneron India will work with Tzu Chi General Hospital of Taiwan for clinical trials.

The patients will initially be treated in India and then in Taiwan. The first trial for ALS will evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments and will begin early next year.

Saneron India will begin accepting patients in mid-2006 at the stem cell centre in Chennai and will work closely with LifeCell. Thus, LifeCell will go beyond cord blood stem cell banking or storage and bring research and treatment to India, the release said.

Saneron will introduce readily available, non-controversial, ethically acceptable cells, stem cells, and other types for cellular therapies, the release said.

Saneron India is also setting up a proprietary allogeneic bank of GMP-manufactured human umbilical cord blood stem cell suspensions designed for treating neurological and cardiac disorders.

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