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Future of Stem Cell Therapy

Date (2015-05-18)

Stem cell therapy has the innate scope as the next panacea for all ailments

It may not be a new discovery and may still be under constant debate, but stem cell therapy has the innate scope as the next panacea for all ailments. The immense potential of an umbilical cord in treating incurable and irreversible diseases like diabetesheart diseaseParkinson’s and Alzheimer’s has brought this therapy at the centre stage. Also known as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy promotes the reparative reaction of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using a group of cells descending from a single original stem cell or is grown in a lab. Stem cells are, essentially, the youngest and basic cells of the multi-cellular body occurring as early as the eight celled stage of human development. These are the body’s building blocks capable of generating an entire human being in vitro. In fact, all stem cells are unspecialised cells that are characteristically of the same family lineage.

They preserve the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialised and take the place of cells that die or are lost. History Researches on the human stem cell field date back to the 1960s when Canadian scientists Ernest A. McCulloch and James EIn began with their findings. Since then, researchers and technology have identified many ways to segregate them from their sources, enrich the poor population in the laboratory and turn them into the desired cells to be needed by exposing them to a variety of chemicals mimicking different conditions of the body. The treatment is an exciting and growing area of medical science, which is gaining attention as a potential cure for many diseases and conditions. Each new development in stem cell technology goes under strong observation to ensure safe and fair acceptance.

Global scenario The field of regenerative medicines and stem cell therapeutics is expanding and developing globally with increasing number of clinical trials for various degenerative diseases, research publications with plenty of data regularising stem cell clinical trials. It has been analysed that as compared to Europe or US, some of the Asian countries such as India and Singapore have accelerated their growth potential in the stem cells sector with more than a five-fold increase in stem cell research, clinical trials and publications for the data. Thus, stem cell technology is globally developing in areas of fundamental science and clinical translation. India’s take Stem cells possess immense potential for both basic sciences and medicine. Even though the therapy is prevailing at a controversial and trial stage, stem cells and their potential applications in regenerative medicine should be treated as an experimental therapy, equivalent to any new scientific development. In order to regularise the therapeutic aspects of stem cells, doctors and professionals involved in regenerative medicines should integrate to discuss the output by paying special attention to issues like safety and rights of the patients, possibilities of danger, new updates, latest research, etc. This would aid publications for the data. Thus, stem cell technology is globally developing in areas of fundamental science and clinical translation. India’s take Stem cells possess immense potential for both basic sciences and medicine.

Even though the therapy is prevailing at a controversial and trial stage, stem cells and their potential applications in regenerative medicine should be treated as an experimental therapy, equivalent to any new scientific development. In order to regularise the therapeutic aspects of stem cells, doctors and professionals involved in regenerative medicines should integrate to discuss the output by paying special attention to issues like safety and rights of the patients, possibilities of danger, new updates, latest research, etc. This would aid in promoting the stem cell treatment in a scientific and ethical way. Meanwhile, the GBI Research report also states that the stem cell market in India is estimated to touch $600 million by 2017. Contemplated as the latest scientific and technological breakthrough, stem cell therapy can potentially revolutionise the medical or healthcare sector. By adopting it, the medical sector can explore new cell based therapies for treating serious conditions such as genetic autoimmune diseases, neuro degenerative disorders, spinal cord injuries and even cancer, which so far were considered to be the major healthcare threats. However, currently, the use of stem cells isolated from the bone marrow has been identified amongst the very few stem cell treatments which can be performed safely.

These cells are effective in treating blood and immunerelated disorders, various forms of blood cancers, etc. Very recently, to my knowledge, a seven-yearold child was successfully treated with autologous bone marrow stem cell for autism. It’s almost a year now since the child underwent this treatment and he is showing tremendous improvement in his concentration, basic understanding of names and instructions and has also gained control over his social behavioural issues. The parents, who could witness these improvements, are fully satisfied today to see their child behave normally. Unfortunately, the process of performing the therapy using only autologous cells from the patient’s bone marrow becomes cumbersome, especially in elderly patients, where autologous stem cells are often found to be less effective. A storage bank for the stem cells will make the transfusion easier for treatments. India is on the brink of being the largest source for umbilical cord blood in the world, given our very high birthrate. No wonder, leading stem cell banking companies are keenly eyeing India.

With a handful of private players, both Indian as well as subsidiaries of international companies, already taking off in this industry, increased market awareness, increase in regulatory approvals for stem cells based products and lowered resistance to private banking will encourage more clients to choose stem cell banking. Although the market is still at its nascent stage, it is expected to surpass $400 million by 2018. Working in sync The medical fraternity or professionals involved in stem cell therapeutics should understand both the positive and negative impact of stem cell therapy on the healthcare system as well as the patients prior to its widespread adoption. Plenty of data has been generated from various clinical studies conducted all over India, which has to be compiled, studied and regularised to reach the conclusion of clinical efficacy, safety and feasibility of stem cells treatments. Apart from this, for a smoother implementation of this therapy in the Indian healthcare centrers, a new progressive approach should be developed to explore stem cells therapeutics.

This would allow easy access for patients to address serious medical conditions. As of now, it is essential to allow the healthcare and corporate sector to work in synchronisation so as to understand the impact of stem cell treatments on the system as well as patients in terms of quality standards, benefits, costs and safety. Observing the everyday advancements in stem cell technology from the research and clinical perspective, stem cells do promise a healthy future for the coming generations in India. The global development of stem cell technology in research as well as clinical applications, makes it obvious that the field is making large leaps to revolutionise the conventional approach of treating medicines and testing various drugs. However, healthcare firms are now moving ahead in this area in a bigger way through marketing the concept of banking of the stem cells and this could soon become the next big thing for the sector.

 

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