Regrow sets up stem cell lab in Lonavala

RMS Regrow, a part of the Regenerative Medical Services (RMS) has launched the country’s first autologous cell therapy laboratory in Lonavala with an initial investment of Rs 24 crore. The cell therapy services company will provide cartilage and bone regenerative therapy and family cord blood bank service.

Mumbai-based RMS has entered into a technology sharing partnership with South Korea’s Sewon Cellontech, listed on Korean stock exchange (KOSPI 200) that supports the development and commercialisation of cellular therapies and tissue engineering technology in the UK, the US, Japan, Poland, Singapore, Netherlands, China and Malaysia.

“We have set up a 12,000 sq ft laboratory at Lonavala with over 30 scientists and support staff,” Yash Sanghavi, managing director of RMS, said. The company had tied up with the South Koran firm to provide kits for growing stem cells for therapies and other purposes, he added. He did not disclose the revenue-sharing model. The company also plans to set up a research and development centre at Lonavala in the next two years.

The company’s managing director said for the first time, Ossron and Chondron therapies for cartilage and bone ailments based on achieving complete regeneration principle were available in the country. Patients own cartilage and bone cells were multiplied and used for implantation at the affected or damaged site for rejuvenation. “Unlike most conventional treatments that treat symptoms, stem cell therapy focuses on correcting and/or replacing damaged or diseased cells,” Sanghavi said.

“RMS lab is the only facility in India that provides cell culturing and application services for regeneration of cartilage and bone cells. Patients can now get affordable treatment at one-fourth of the cost they would incur abroad,” Satyen Sanghavi, chief scientific officer, said.

At present, he said about two million patients in the country, who were in the early stages of osteoarthritis -- which could later need total knee replacement (TKR) -- would need such a therapy. Chandron cartilage regeneration therapy could prevent early osteoarthritis and avoid TKR, he added. “Ossron bone regeneration therapy will help avoid complex, painful hip replacement surgeries arising due to bone necrosis or other bone defects due to cancer or non-union fractures. Patients’ life can be increased by more than 20 years,” he said. The entire course of treatment takes 5-9 months, costing Rs 1.5 lakh to the doctor treating the patient.

Sanghavi said before launching the new lab, the company had successfully treated and cured 18 cases across the country along with its South Korean partner. He said the lab has the capacity to treat 2,000 patients annually.

Sanghavi said the family cord blood bank service would store cord blood collected from umbilical cord within a few minutes after the baby is born on behalf of the client for 21 years for Rs 65,000. “The blood present in the umbilical cord is drained into a special bag. At the lab, the nucleated cells are processed and cryogenically preserved. It is used to cure the child’s or its siblings’ blood related diseases like thalassemia, leukemia and anemia,” he said.

“India is a big market for us and we will provide world proven technology and licensed products that will be used by RMS for the Indian paitents,” Chang Cheong-Ho, chairman and CEO, Sewon Cellontech, said, adding that the company was planning to invest in health sciences in India shortly.

The family owned 20-year-old flagship Satyen Pharmaceutical Group is a contract manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients with offices in the UK, the US, China, and Singapore. The company clocked a turnover of Rs 500 crore in fiscal 2009 with a gross profit of Rs 18 crore, Sanghavi said.

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