Wednesday 08 December 2021

Commercial stem cell bank loses licence after damning inspection

Stem cells

Stem cells. Photo: Wikipedia

Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis has withdrawn the operating licence from commercial Dutch stem cell bank SCBN, saying the ‘security and quality’ of the stem cells being stored could no longer be guaranteed.

The decision follows recommendations by health ministry inspectors, who said in May this year that the stem cell bank in Leusden was not being well run. In particular, the interchange of material between donors could not be ruled out, and there were questions about the use of sterile equipment, Blokhuis told MPs.

The SCBN had been licenced since 2010. It collects blood from umbilical cords for use in future stem technology, such as the treatment of leukemia.

It is unclear how many people currently use the bank, but at the time of the inspection, it was storing some 9,500 samples. The cost of storage, according to the website, is a one-off fee of €296.50 plus € 121 per year.

The bank must now contact parents to inform them about the loss of the licence and discuss what should happen with the stem cells currently in storage. ‘Whatever happens, they may not be used to treat humans,’ Blokhuis said.

Last year, another commercial stem cell bank, Cryo-Save, also hit the headlines when it emerged thousands of tubes of frozen cells had disappeared.

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