Cordlife Harvests Stem Cells Of Newborns In Case Of A Rare Disease
July 6, 2015
By Choi Young-Sin as reported on Forbes.com
Walking down a hallway at the headquarters of Singapore health care company Cordlife, Chief Executive Jeremy Yee points to plaques commemorating 18 successful stem-cell infusions over its 14-year history. Georgia Conn’s cerebral palsy has improved after getting blood from her own umbilical cord when she was 2 years old. One 16-year-old is now in remission from leukemia, thanks to receiving his sister’s cord blood. “The odds of fighting off disease in a family are much higher if you store your own cord blood,” says Yee. “Our strategy is to empower everyone to store.”
Cordlife operates cord-blood banks in five countries and rallies expectant parents with the emotive tagline, “one chance, one choice.” It’s like an insurance policy against a rare disease: The stem cells derived from the blood are used in transplants to combat certain types of cancer and blood disorders. But customers are looking beyond current medical uses as advances in stem-cell therapy continue apace. Researchers hope that one day cord blood will be used for a host of other conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. “Our role as a custodian is very much like a bank,” says cofounder Ho Choon Hou, a principal at Southern Capital Group, a Singapore private equity firm. Ho also chairs Cordlife’s board.
Full Coverage: Asia’s 200 Best Under a Billion
In Singapore new parents can choose to have their child’s cord-blood stem cells stored for 21 years under a $4,000 plan that also includes collection and processing. Storing the umbilical-cord lining costs an additional $4,450. The plans can be renewed once the child reaches adulthood.
Banking umbilical-cord blood has caught fire in Asia, and Cordlife is well-positioned to cash in. The company boasts more than 100,000 customers and 700 employees for the region’s
largest network of cord-blood banks. Singapore and Hong Kong are its most developed markets, with India, Indonesia and the Philippines quickly advancing. It also has a stake in Malaysia’s StemLife Bhd., which gives the company indirect access to Thai StemLife.
Investors are piling in. Cordlife’s shares on the Singapore Exchange are up 25% this year, and analysts continue to rate the company a buy. Net profits more than doubled to $24.2 million for the year ended June 30, 2014. Analysts forecast lower net profits for the year ended last month but also a 13% rise in revenue, to $43 million. With this performance Cordlife debuts on our list of the 200 best listed companies in the Asia-Pacific region with under $1 billion in annual revenue.
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