Sunday, October 24, 2010


  Main Thrust of Activities
 The understanding of stem cells biology has opened up new medical paradigm especially in tissue generation as embryonic stem cells could be most powerful ones of all. Pluripotent stem cells are the multi-potential cell populations capable of developing into specialized cells and tissues of the body such as muscle cells, nerve cells, liver cells and blood cells and may be used for replacement of cells and tissues to treat many diseases and disorders like Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis and also help us understand what causes birth defects and cancer. The development of stem cell lines that may produce many tissues of human body is an important scientific breakthrough.

 Recent studies, however, have clearly led to development of technologies where by the stem cell either from the adult or from the embryo can be isolated and grown in the tissue culture. This discovery has surprised many scientists and this technology is now being utilized by several scientists specially in the developed countries for organogenesis, transplantation of the stem cells to rectify the ailing and disease tissue, delivery of new therapeutics, delivery of interleukins to modulate immune responses and also delivering candidate vaccine for several infectious diseases. This research has the potential to revolutionise the practice of medicine and improve the quality and the length of life.

 A number of projects have been implemented on use of limbal stem cells in repairing damaged ocular surface; neural stem cells to understand how stem cells get differentiated into different types of neural cells; haematopoietic stem cells; isolation, characterization and neuronal differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. In addition, the department has also received the programmes on other aspects of stem cell biology. Significant achievements are as follows :

Seventeen patients have undergone corneal transplantation using limbal stem cells
First haploidentical stem cell transplantation has been done on the 2.4.2003. For this, CD34+ cells have been collected from the father of a child suffering from glanzmann thrombasthenia who had severe persistent bleeding. This type of transplantation is first of its kind in india.

  Proposed Programmes

  • To establish stem cell banking facility in the country.
  • To develop well characterized stem cell lines.
  • Potential use of embryonic stem cell lines to generate various organs.
  • Regeneration of tissues for stem cells obtained from aborted foetus
  • Basic understanding of the signaling mechanisms and differentiation of stem cells.

Mechanism for review and monitoring

Robust interest in stem cell treatments in India results from a unique combination of three main drivers: 

(1) significant unmet health needs; 
(2) high consumer demand from a large private healthcare network; and 
(3) historical trust in alternative systems of medicine, which may not be evidence based. 

This high level of interest in stem cell treatments also engenders ample funding for research and development of stem cell therapies through venture capitalists and through the Department of Biotechnology, which supports ∼90% of the projects.
The building blocks for regulatory approval of stem cell therapies are still in development. The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) formulated guidelines for stem cell research in 2007. In particular, the ICMR has forbidden the use of embryonic cells for clinical treatment in its guidelines. However, these guidelines have not yet been converted into law and thus it is expected, but not mandatory, to register all stem cell clinical trials.
While the regulatory system is still in development, there are currently different mechanisms to regulate clinical translation, variable criteria used by oversight bodies for protection for human subjects and the ability to regulate practice of medicine separate from research. 

To unify and streamline the process, the National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (NAC-SCRT) was created in 2009. 

NAC-SCRT is an interagency body created with the aim of effectively reviewing and monitoring stem cell research in India.

Forbes India
Department of Biotechnology,India
Stem Cell Stem

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