In the vast continuum of medical breakthroughs, the world stands poised on the precipice of a transformative era. This epoch is being shaped by the groundbreaking feats of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine. INNOVIA Biobank is pioneering such a monumental shift in the MENA region.
INNOVIA Biobank, the parent company of BabyCord and subsidiaries, is Jordan’s first biobank and a symbol of relentless innovation, dedication, and foresight. Starting out as an umbilical cord blood and tissue storage facility, it grew to become a leading medical and research facility.
In 2016, in order to expand prospects for cutting-edge medical applications and treatments utilizing stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood and tissue in the MENA region, Dr. Maher Sarraf founded BabyCord, a subsidiary of INNOVIA Biobank, in Jordan. This came about after more than 11 years of serving as agents on behalf of a stem cell bank in Boston.
Now, the company’s CEO, Dr. Mohannad Al-Ghazo has seen well-deserved success within the Middle East CEO of the Year Awards 2023, so we learn more about the company and the important work it does.
Babycord Stemcell Bank: The Elixir of Life
Venturing into the labyrinth of stem cell research is Babycord stem cell bank. Its focus on preserving stem cells from cord blood and dental pulp is not merely scientific—it’s revolutionary.
Stem cells, especially embryonic ones, are significant because they are unspecialized cells with the rare ability to differentiate into 200 types of specialized cells including blood, brain, muscle, and bone cells, which can be induced naturally or experimentally to regenerate and repair damaged tissues.
These robust stem cells are not just inscriptions in medical journals. They are transformative agents capable of remedying a vast array of blood disorders, metabolic challenges, immune insufficiencies, and some cancers like leukemia. Additionally, they provide tremendous therapeutic potential for conditions like cerebral palsy and autism that are still undergoing clinical trials.
While stem cells can be obtained from a donor’s bone marrow, the sample must be a perfect match, unlike stem cells extracted from cord blood. What is more, bone marrow collection is a painful and invasive procedure that requires the use of anesthesia. In contrast, the process of collecting umbilical cord blood and tissue during normal and caesarean deliveries is non-intrusive and painless for both mother and child.
“It is one of the most life-affirming developments, because what used to be discarded as clinical waste —the placenta and umbilical cord — is now harvested as a reservoir for highly effective, regenerative medicine,” Dr. Maher Sarraf says.
If a parent misses the chance to preserve a child’s stem cells at birth, it is not as catastrophic as one might believe. Stem cells can also be extracted from other sources such as milk teeth. So if your child has a wiggly tooth that eventually falls out — you can keep it for advantages even the tooth fairy can’t.
“The versatility of dental pulp stem cells, especially their potential in nerve and tissue repair, paints a future not limited by medical constraints,” Sarraf adds.
Cord blood can be used as a treatment for not just the child, but the entire family — including parents, siblings, and maternal and paternal grandparents — for a lifetime. The extracted cord blood contains genetic receptors specific to each person, called Human Leukocyt Antigen (HLA). Usually, these receptors are identical to the child’s and match first-degree relatives: siblings, father, and mother, at a percentage of 25 to 100 percent.
For a family that includes the child, siblings, parents, and grandparents, there is a high probability — 40 percent — that at least one family member will be diagnosed with a condition that can use stem cells for treatment.
So where does BabyCord come in? The company supplies customers with a cord blood collection kit prior to a baby’s due date. The assigned BabyCord on-call nurse will bring an additional collection kit and help the physician with the collection once the delivery starts. After the baby’s delivery and after the clamping and separation of the umbilical cord, a needle attached to the collection bag is inserted into the center of cord and the placenta, causing the blood to flow into it. The bag gets packaged in specialized padded boxes and transported to the lab less than an hour from the time of collection to optimize the number of viable stem cells recovered.
Each cord blood unit is assigned a unique barcode identifier number that is traceable throughout the processing and preservation procedure to prevent any cross-contamination. Once the stem cells are separated from whole blood, they are collected into a specialized biocompatible multi-segmented cryogenic storage blood bag in preparation for cryopreservation (the process of freeze-storing cells at very low temperatures) and storage.
The cryopreservation rates of cooling vary depending on its stage, resulting in positive effects on stem cell recovery after thawing. The initial freezing process is computer-controlled at a pre-set rate followed by storage in -196°C high-capacity liquid nitrogen tanks.
INNOVIA Tissue Bank: The Vanguard of Reproductive Evolution
However, INNOVIA is not only limited to cord blood and stem cells. 2019 witnessed INNOVIA’s ambitious foray into tissue banking — a testament to its drive to diversify and amplify its global footprint. INNOVIA’s tenet as a tissue bank comes from ‘patients stay, tissue moves’.
Collaborations with prestigious entities like the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University Hospital of Dusseldorf speak volumes. The crown jewel? Its groundbreaking Fertility Preservation Program, with a keen emphasis on preserving ovarian tissue. This isn’t just a medical procedure; it’s a beacon of hope for cancer-afflicted women worldwide, gifting them agency over their reproductive destinies.
INNOVIA Genetics: Deciphering the Code of Life
Venturing deeper into the genetic matrix, INNOVIA Genetics emerges as a pioneer. Through advanced technology, it unravels the intricate dance of genes, offering diagnostic testing and invaluable consultations. The stellar offering of NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing) stands as a beacon of our ceaseless dedication to healthcare excellence.
INNOVIA Lab: Healthcare Beyond Boundaries
For those questing a gamut of healthcare solutions, INNOVIA Lab emerges as the answer, offering an extensive suite of general laboratory services, tailored to address diverse health requirements. The company’s commitment? An unparalleled healthcare journey.
INNOVIA Academy: Shaping the Medical Titans of Tomorrow
INNOVIA doesn’t just embrace today; it shapes tomorrow. Its association with the University of Jordan culminates in INNOVIA Academy — a unique institution specializing in cutting-edge courses on genetics, stem cells, and advanced lab techniques. Its mission? To mold the torchbearers of future medical wonders.
INNOVIA’s state-of-the art facility, strategically located five minutes away from the international airport, is constructed using reinforced steel and concrete, storage areas insulated with specialized bullet-proof glass and concrete walls, automated backup generators, computer networking with remote location data record backup, and on-site and remote audio/video monitoring and recording.
INNOVIA’s precautions ensure protection against natural calamities such as earthquakes, fires, and floodings, and external attacks such as theft or vandalism. The building also has 24-hour security system connected to rapid emergency and protection authority notification and deployment, and 24-hour on-duty guards.
Such meticulous adherence to global standards is mirrored in INNOVIA’s laudable ISO certification, coupled with a full-fledged accreditation from the (Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)). This regional and global recognition doesn’t culminate here; its proud registration with the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) accentuates its commitment to global healthcare standards.
INNOVIA Biobank is not merely a laboratory; it’s an institution that envisions and safeguards our collective future health. In the grand tapestry of regenerative medicine, INNOVIA Biobank shines brightly. It is not just an establishment; it is a promise — a vision for a future where medicine isn’t just enhanced; it’s revolutionary. As the company navigates these exciting waters, its beacon remains constant: a relentless pursuit of a brighter, healthier future for all.
INNOVIA Genetics: A World-Class Center of Excellence in Genetic Services
INNOVIA Genetics proudly stands as a beacon in the world of genetic medicine. Having received widespread global acclaim, its reputation as a top-ranking institution is indisputable.
At the heart of this immense success is Dr. Mohammed Raqqad, a distinguished clinical geneticist. As INNOVIA Genetics’ Medical Director, Dr. Raqqad ensures that the entire spectrum of services – from diagnostics to treatments – adheres to the highest benchmarks of excellence. Moreover, his role as the Dean of INNOVIA ACADEMY is a testament to his relentless passion for nurturing and equipping the next cadre of genetic aficionados.
Underpinned by a stellar team of professionals, INNOVIA Genetics is unwavering in its mission: harnessing genetic insights for a brighter, healthier tomorrow.
Key Specializations within the team:
Comprehensive Genetic Counseling:
Understanding the contemporary needs for adaptability and flexibility, INNOVIA Genetics provides both virtual and in-person genetic counseling sessions. Designed with utmost precision, these sessions aim to demystify the complex realm of genetics for patients. Alongside, INNOVIA Genetics offers an extensive array of genetic tests and services, guaranteeing a holistic genetic solution for each and every person.
Pioneering in Reproductive Genetics:
Its forte in Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies (PGTA) and Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) places it at the forefront of reproductive genetics. The company is dedicated to offering a seamless and enriching experience for both individuals and families navigating these genetic pathways.
Its exemplary services are housed in a modern facility designed and customized to meet the rigorous demands of genetic medicine. Its College of American Pathologists (CAP) accreditation is not merely a badge of honor; it’s a testament to its unwavering commitment to quality and excellence. Achieving this accreditation required meeting stringent standards signifies the company’s devotion to best practices and patient safety.
Vision for the Future:
As the landscape of genetic medicine continuously evolves, so does INNOVIA Genetics. Its horizon is brimming with goals and aspirations, including furthering research, introducing avant-garde genetic solutions, and expanding collaborations with global institutions.
INNOVIA Academy: Bridging the Gap in Genetics and Stem Cells Education
In today’s rapidly evolving medical landscape, genetics and stem cells stand out as two of the most promising and groundbreaking fields. Yet, despite their vast potential, there remains a distinct lack of comprehensive education specifically tailored to these specialized fields. INNOVIA Academy addresses this exact void by equipping the next generation of healthcare professionals with the knowledge and expertise necessary to drive further innovation in these domains.
Why INNOVIA Academy was established?
The idea of INNOVIA Academy was inspired by a simple, yet profound realization: while genetics and stem cells held the key to future medical miracles, there was an acute shortage in institutions offering specialized courses on these subjects.
Traditional medical curricula, though rigorous, frequently merely touches the surface of these topics. As pioneers in the biobank industry, INNOVIA recognized the imperative of a deeper, more thorough and more focused education in genetics and stem cells. As a result, INNOVIA Academy stands as a beacon of specialized knowledge in a sea of generalist medical education and functions as a knowledge hub. It offers an in-depth curriculum on genetics, coupled with hands-on training sessions, workshops, and research projects.
Affiliation with the University of Jordan: A Confluence of Legacy and Innovation
The partnership with the University of Jordan represents more than just a strategic decision; it represents the fusion of historic academic prestige with avant-garde medical education. The University, with its rich history and stellar academic reputation, lends credibility, legitimacy, and depth to the academy. This affiliation ensures that the curriculum is rooted in foundational academic principles as it keeps up with the cutting-edge medical advancements.
CPD Accreditation: A Testament to Excellence
Earning the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accreditation is no small feat. It stands as a rigorous endorsement of the academy’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing the knowledge and skills of its students and faculty. INNOVIA Academy’s courses aren’t just designed to impart knowledge; they aim to foster continuous learning and professional growth.
Courses Tailored for Tomorrow
Understanding that the realms of genetics and stem cells are vast and multifaceted, INNOVIA Academy offers a range of courses tailored to meet the diverse needs of its students. From foundational courses introducing the basic concepts to advanced modules exploring the latest research and techniques, the academy ensures that its students are always a step ahead, ready to shape the future of Medicine.
A Vision for the Future
Although INNOVIA Academy was established in response to a current need, its vision is firmly set on the future. Beyond merely providing education, the academy’s mission is shaping future thought leaders, innovators, and pioneers in the fields of genetics and stem cells. With the steadfast support of its affiliates and the dedication of its faculty, INNOVIA Academy is not just teaching medicine; it’s redefining it.
INNOVIA Academy is the movement – striving to bridge the knowledge gap in two of the most crucial medical fields. Through its endeavors, the academy ensures that the promise of genetics and stem cells is not just realized but surpassed, heralding a brighter, healthier future for all.
Company: INNOVIA Biobank
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