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Stem Cell Biotechnology

Stem cell biology is a promising and emerging field of the life sciences. The potential of stem cell technology to develop therapy for many untreatable diseases through cellular replacement or tissue engineering is widely recognized. Keeping in view its potential therapeutic applications, both basic and translational research are being promoted by the Department in various institutions, hospitals and the industry. Till date, more than 55 programmes have been identified and supported on various aspects of stem cell research. These include generation of human embryonic stem cell lines, differentiation of pancreatic progenitor cells to insulin secreting cells, isolation of multi potential adult progenitor cells from bone marrow and their clonal expansion, use of banana lectins for stem cell preservation, hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) for haplo-identical HSC transplantation, use of limbal stem cells for ocular surface disorders, isolation and characterization of mesenchymal and liver stem cells, in vitro differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to neural and non-neural lineages, cardiac stem cells, embryonic stem cells etc.

Disease specific brainstorming sessions have been organized in the area of cardiac, stroke, limb ischemia and orthopaedic to explore the potential applications of stem cells in these areas. "CMC-DBT Centre for Stem Cell Research" has been established at CMC, Vellore to carry out basic and translational research. Multi centric clinical study has been implemented on acute myocardial infarction and pilot study has been initiated on acute ischaemic stroke to determine safety and efficacy of bone marrow mononuclear cells. Stem cell research facilities including clean rooms to handle stem cells have been created at PGIMER, Chandigarh, SGPGIMS, Lucknow, KEM Mumbai and LVPEI, Hyderabad. A training centre to provide training for embryonic and adult stem cells has been supported jointly at NCBS & JNCSAR, Bangalore. Current Good Manufacturing Practices Current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) workshop/training course was also organized. A number of scientists and clinicians were invited to participate in the training course.

Currently the challenges in this area include availability of human resource of desired expertise; adequate infrastructure; interdisciplinary network of researchers and clinicians for theme based research; appropriate regulatory mechanisms; well defined basic research leading to clinical/translational research, focused centres and institutions.

In order to formulate road map in the area of stem cell research, a series of disease specific meetings were organized. Based on the consensus, road map for stem cell research has been categorized into basic research, translational research; human resource development; creation of infrastructure facilities; establishment of Centre of Excellence, institutions, creation of basic research units in medical institutions, good animal models for the diseases, etc.

The Department of Biotechnology under Ministry of Science and Technology and Indian Council of Medical Research have jointly formulated draft guidelines for stem cell research. The guidelines are currently being placed for public debate.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-02-2011