India to be part of first clinical study using stem cells to cure spinal cord injury


Pioneer Founding member
Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
May 09, 2015

India will soon become a part of a first-of-its-kind clinical trial for treating spinal cord injury in humans through stem-cells involving 18 patients. The clinical trial is a part of a collaborative study conducted in China, Norway and America involving 240 patients led by China based stem cell researcher Dr Wise Young.

The pre-clinical trial of this project already completed in the US and also the first phase clinical trials in China involving 120 patients. The phase -2 b trial on humans in India will now begin with 6 patients each from Bombay Hospital, Mumbai, NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute, Mumbai and Apollo Hospital, Chennai.

Stem cells are blank cells which can transform and multiply rapidly into any type of tissue in the body. They can regenerate, repair and replace damaged body parts of human body.

According to an expert associated with the development, "Approval will be sought from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) following a consent from the ethical committees of the Indian hospitals- Bombay Hospital, NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute and Apollo Hospital."

As a part of the study, the stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood will be sourced from China. These cells can be stored for 25 years through cryopreservation technique. But, since these cells are derived from outside the patient, the donor cells have to be compatible with the recipient. Various cord blood banking companies store these cells.

Umbilical cord blood is the residual amount of blood left behind in the umbilical cord and placenta after the delivery of a baby. This is generally discarded. It contains appreciable amount of stem cells of different types, mainly haematopoietic progenitor cells. It is capable of regenerating the entire blood and immune system and also form new blood channels.

Once collected, processed and cryogenically stored immediately after birth, retains its potency and can be used on demand, with negligible turnaround time. They have been used successfully in transplants for reconstitution of bone marrow in malignant and degenerative diseases, correction of genetically transmitted haematological disorders like thalassaemias and potentially for cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.

Bone marrow, mobilised peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood are the easily accessible sources of stem cells.