Dutch stem cell bank Cryo-Save has misplaced thousands of stem cell samples while transferring them from facilities across Europe to Poland.
Over 330,000 stem cell samples were transported to Poland last year following an agreement between Cryo-Save and the Polish laboratory Famicord. Famicord reported that only 98 percent of samples arrived successfully, leaving two percent unaccounted for.
A FamiCord spokesman told DutchNews that they 'don't know exactly' where the samples are. Tomas Birin, a board member of Famicord, said: '200 or 300 people in Europe who had samples taken by Cryo-Save in mid-2019 could have that question mark: where is the sample?' He also confirmed that some parts of the Dutch stem cell bank could be in Portugal.
Stem cells harvested from placenta and umbilical cord blood of a new-born could be used in future to treat conditions such as leukaemia or sickle cell anaemia. But concerns have been raised regarding private and commercial cord blood banking, which is restricted in countries such as Belgium and France. In the UK, there are two public cord blood banks and seven licensed private clinics (see BioNews 999).
According to the AD, Cryo-Save was not authorised to purchase and distribute umbilical cords in the Netherlands and a government report published last year found serious shortcomings in the company's activities. AD also reported that the transfer of samples to Poland happened without the permission of the parents or the authorities.
Birin told DutchNews that it was the responsibility of Cryo-Save to get its clients' consent for the move, and that it had obtained the required permits, but that if their samples had reached Poland, they would be stored free of charge for the contractual term with no additional fees.
According to DutchNews, Dutch parents have also been approached by the Dubai-based company CSG Bio, who claim to have taken over the stem cell activities of Cryo-Save and say that Famicord obtained the stem cells illegally.
Parents in Hungary, Italy, Spain and Belgium have also been affected by the move. The Belgian and Swiss authorities, according to the AD, are currently investigating the transfer and Switzerland is conducting criminal investigations into violations of the transplant law.