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Muscat: Cooperation on the use of stem cells in medical treatment and storage of cord blood, which is a rich source of these life-saving cells, is being discussed by Oman and a leading research and treatment centre in Asia.

Preliminary discussions are being held on establishing a centre in Oman and offering training to Omani specialists as well, Seyed Vahid Askari from the international affairs department of Royan Stem Cell Technology Co., told Times of Oman.

He was speaking during the 5th edition of Oman Health Exhibition and Conference, which was recently held at the Oman International Exhibition Centre in Muscat.

Royan Institute is based in Iran and was established in 1991 as a research institute for reproductive biomedicine and infertility treatment.

Askari said that the planned cooperation between Royan and Oman would focus on infertility treatment, use of stem cells in the treatment of various medical conditions as well as storage of umbilical cord blood, which is a valuable source of stem cells.

Stem cells

Stem cells are special blood cells, which are the body’s building blocks for blood, organs, tissue and the immune system and are genetically unique to each baby.

When a baby’s cord blood is stored, a unique biological resource is preserved that is like a self-repair kit for the child and other possible family members.

Royan Stem Cell Technology Co. was founded in 2005 to take, proceed and fulfil the required steps in cord blood banking. The centre has covered the preliminary steps including storing more than 55,000 samples in its public and private banks and opening branches in more than 23 cities nationwide.

Askari explained that cord blood collection is easy and does not pose any medical risk to the mother or the newborn baby.

If stored, cord blood stem cells will be readily available whenever needed, he added.

Cord blood transplants

Doctors have increasingly turned to cord blood stem cells as an alternative to bone marrow transplants. Cord blood stem cells are used in disease treatment to fight over 80 diseases including many forms of malignancies such as leukaemia, autoimmune diseases, lupus, and inheritable diseases such as sickle cell anaemia.


One of the advantages of cord blood transplants is that they do not require a perfect match and can be performed in cases that the donor and the recipient are partially matched.

In addition, the immune cells in cord blood seem to be less likely than those in bone marrow from unrelated donors to attack the patient’s own tissues. Cord blood transplants are also associated with lower risk of viral infections.

Omani patients

Askari said that Royan centre is ‘unique’ in the Middle East and even Asia in terms of research and treatment, especially infertility treatment.

“We receive patients from Oman, especially for eye disorder treatment and infertility treatment through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). Now we are trying to promote treatment of certain skin disorders with stem cells,” the official noted.

International specialists and researches who participate at Royan’s conferences have been impressed by the centre’s achievements, he said, adding, “We feel it is important to transfer this know-how to our neighbouring countries and cooperate with them.”


Askari said that the institute is keen to share its expertise with universities and health and research centres in Oman and is ready to hold short and long-term seminars in the Sultanate.

Iran has made great progress in medical fields over the past years despite the sanctions, he stated, expressing hope that this potential would be utilised further after the implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Askari also noted that the health exhibition in Muscat provided a great networking opportunity for representatives of medical centres from different countries.
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