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Thread: Stem Cell Research In India Surges Ahead

  1. #1

    Default Stem Cell Research In India Surges Ahead

    Business Insider India

    The very word "stem cell" connotes an elixir cure. It has been part of science fiction tales, but today it is a reality.

    As per a report by Forbes, surprisingly, India is considered to be in the forefront in stem cell research and its use. Considerable work has been done not only by private organisations, but also by the Government of India. The government has, through the Department of Biotechnology, granted over Rs 300 crore over the previous five years to be used in basic and applied research in stem cell technology.

    In comparison to other countries, including the United States, where even today no Federal funding is available for new cell lines, India has more liberal rules and regulations governing stem cell research.

    Why all the hype on stem cell research? Stem cells are immature cells that can be induced to transform into tissue- or organ-specific cells. Scientists have been researching on both animal and human stem cells.

    Stem cells are classified as per their source. They are Embryonic Stem Cells (ES) from early human embryos, for example, fetal stem cells from aborted foetus; adult stem cells from tissues, skin and bone marrow; cord blood cells from umbilical cord and even adipose (fatty) tissue.

    The idea behind stem cell application is to grow new skin, tissue and organs. Of particular interest is the potential in treatment of irreversible and degenerative diseases such as heart problems, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson.

    Research on applications is on regeneration of damaged muscles due to heart attack, stroke or cornea damage. In India, where the incidence of blindness is high (over 12 million people), stem cell applications for regeneration of corneas is particularly important. Dental stem cell research hopes to be able to regenerate teeth and dentin.

    However, the brouhaha is on the research using human embryo stem cells. Social, ethical and cultural values and issues at times work against stem cell research. Fears of cloning and misuse had led to governments in almost all countries including India (in 2004) banning reproductive cloning, but permitting therapeutic cloning.

    The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology have laid down the new ICMR-DBT draft guidelines on stem cell research, updating the 2007 guidelines. They have also sought to regulate the compensation towards injury due to participation in clinical research through the CDSCO draft. It also emphasises on the production of stem cells as per the current GMP (good manufacturing practice) conditions.

    The Health Ministry, after the first 2007 guidelines on stem cell research, set up two regulatory bodies, NAC-SCRT (National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research) and IC-SCRT (Institutional Committee for Stem Cell Research).

    Under the new guidelines, all research and clinical trials have to be registered with and obtain prior permission and approval of the NAC-SCRT. The new guidelines also specify that only stem cell research, basic and translational, is permitted but not therapy. It permits therapy usage in patients only through approved and fully-monitored clinical trials. Stem cells cannot be used as therapy.

    Under ICMR and DBT, the government has set up several stem cell research institutions all over the country and they have been doing valuable research.

    The National Centre for Cell Research, Pune, has worked on stem cell transdifferentiation into pancreatic islets. Research at AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh, is on retinal degeneration and stroke, CLRI, Chennai, on tissue engineering and nano technologies.

    NIIH has been able to differentiate umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells into cardiomyocytes or cardiac muscles.

    The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, also works closely with the government.

    The Government of India also set up CSCR in 2008 in collaboration with Christian Medical College, Vellore, with the intention of using stem cell science for understanding human diseases and development of stem cell-based therapies. Interestingly, it also runs a training programme for scientists and students of stem cell research.

    CSCR will also carry out clinical trials with stem cells produced under current good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions.

    The private sector consisting of hospitals and private research foundations have not lagged behind. The pioneering work by Reliance Life Sciences in the development of hES cell lines has made it a major player. It has been given permission to use on a large scale stem cells sourced from the patient's body for therapy. The LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, has developed corneal limbal stem cells. Sankara Nethralaya Stem Cell Research Center, Chennai, is working on retinal and corneal stem cell application and immunoregulatory properties of stem cells.

    Hospitals such as Dr KM Cherian's research facility in Medville have used stem cells from bone marrow to help regenerate the heart.
    Rules permit the usage of one's own banked stem cells and several storage facilities such as Life Cell, Reliance Life Sciences, Cryobanks International and Stemade for dental stem cell storage have come up.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.


  2. #2


    It's sad that the USA falls behind others in new technology because the interests of some special interest groups are more important to the government than the needs of the population.

    We have the brains but unfortunately also have the barriers.


  3. #3


    Some researchers here in the U.S. pummel most all other countries when it comes to stem cell research and stem cell clinics. They claim that other countries lack meaningful regulation and that offshore clinics are risky. Many also advocate for a global FDA. Hopefully, that will never happen. The U.S. is falling behind because of over regulation. This stifles innovation and also is harmful to those who could benefit from such innovation. That doesn't bother them in the least however, as they continue to try to find ways to regulate the world.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.


  4. #4


    A global FDA is something I hope we never have.

    Our own FDA is nothing more than a support group for Big Pharma and Big Agriculture and really does more harm to the general public than good. I'd love to see it fixed, but I haven't the slightest idea as to how to do that. The big money will always find a way to regulate the regulators.


  5. #5


    The only way to see it fixed is to wake the public up. Over regulation stifles innovation which hurts people. We live in a country though where some people do not even know the name of the Vice President, so I don't see a wake up call real soon. Congress has the power to make changes, but too many are there for a career and they gladly accept donations from Big Pharma; the same Big Pharma that is sleeping with the FDA. It's a vicious circle.

    I still believe that term limits would solve many of the problems in this country. Instead of going to Washington for the perks and prestige and a long career, elected officials might just go there for the good of the people they represent and for the country as a whole.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.


  6. #6


    I think term limits would be good, but I also think we need to get the big money out of politics.

    When the candidate needs millions of dollars to run a campaign, he/she is going to owe favors to the people that bankroll the campaign.

    Perhaps zero donations allowed, and all qualified candidates get 15 minutes per day on TV and Radio. No other advertising allowed.

    Plus real debates - not with pre-arranged questions/answers, and run by a fair agency like the League of Women Voters

    I'd also like to see all political media like Fox and MSNBC abolished. They are nothing but propaganda factories and they tell lies. Broadcasting lies, taking things out of context to show opposite meaning etc, is fraud and when a station does that, they should get 1 warning, second time millions in fines, and third time a fine plus a permanent revocation of their license. Of course they should get a fair trial for each offense.

    Plus we need to get back to the rule where one person or company is only allowed to own 2 TV stations, 2 newspapers, and 2 radio stations. When we have 6 giant corporations owning 90% of the commercial media, we no longer have freedom of the press. In fact the reporters now call themselves presstitutes. News is nothing but corporate policy and viewpoint.

    Religions should be banned from politics too. After all, they don't pay taxes, so when they do involve themselves, it's representation without taxation. Plus they are just as propaganda prone as big business.

    Anyone who sells out the public for big business, or takes that cushy, high-paying job after the favor was granted should be tried for treason, and if found guilty put in front of a firing squad - televised.

    Congressional districts should be split on county lines - no gerrymandering. More representatives in the house - the number is way off what the founding fathers established.

    No automatic pay raises for congress, and they cannot raise their own salary.

    Filibusters must be done the original way, somebody has to talk and talk and talk to hold the floor.

    Get rid of the Democratic and Republican parties and encourage a true multi-party system. It's too easy for one party to vote in a bloc and stall the process.

    Flat-rate tax for everybody over the poverty level. Whether you make 30 thousand or 30 billion, you should pay the same percentage. No deductions.

    Oh, I'd make a lousy dictator and probably would get assassinated in my first month

    Like I said, I don't know how to fix the problem. (None of this is going to happen and is probably too simplistic to work anyhow).


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