Committee to Monitor Cellular Therapy

Committee to Monitor Cellular TherapyCommittee to Monitor Cellular Therapy

Preliminary steps have been taken to set up a committee for cellular therapy and organ transplants at the Health Ministry, announced Dr. Ardeshir Qavamzadeh, head of the Iranian Bone Marrow Transplantation Association.

“An administrative department was established after the statute for the committee was drawn up,” he told IRNA.

The committee will function as a supervising body to oversee all centers performing cell-based treatments and medical centers will have to get accreditation from the committee before practicing cellular therapy or bone marrow transplants.

It would also make decisions regarding eligibility of recipients and undertake quality control checks on equipment used in the field.

Leukemia, major thalassemia, chronic cancers, different types of immunodeficiency, metabolic and genetic disorders, phenylketonuria (a birth defect that causes an amino acid, called phenylalanine, to build up in the body), and anemia are among conditions that can be treated using stem cell transplantation. Multiple sclerosis can also be treated more easily if the disease is in its early stage.

Globally, up to 50 cases of cell transplants occur for every 10 million individuals. In certain developed countries the number surpasses 300, while in some nations the medical procedure is not carried out at all.

“In Iran with a population of 80 million, about 650-700 cell transplants are done each year, but the figure needs to be at least doubled,” Qavamzadeh stressed.

Approximately 70% of all patients who undergo cell-based treatments survive for five years or more after treatment. The percentage is 15% for those who do not.


Elaborating on the advantages of cell transplant, he said there is a small chance of the disease returning but a patient must continue treatment till they survive. The success rate depends on whether the used stem cells are normal or mesenchymal (multipotent stromal cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types). “If there are any potential side effects, regenerative medicine is used, which deals with the process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function.”

The financial cost of cell-based treatments depends on the amount of stem cells collected, the number of times they need to be injected, and the type of stem cells used, said Qavamzadeh, who is also on the board of directors at the Asia Pacific Blood and Marrow Transplantation (APBMT) group, and head of the Hematology-Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation Research Center at Tehran’s Shariati Hospital.

“A period of three weeks is required to cultivate cells, and the process costs roughly 30 million rials ($800),” he added.

Currently, 66 types of ailments can be treated using stem cells at the Shariati Hospital. Additionally, nine other hospitals across Iran, including in Tehran, Shiraz, Kerman, and Mashhad perform stem cell transplants.

Lower medical costs, less medicinal use, increased life expectancy and a one-time effort, are among other benefits of the treatment.