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 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s has brought the therapy at the centre stage.
Also known as regenerative medicine, this 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.
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 on Stem Cell Therapy treatment
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, neurodegenerative 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. Very recently, to my knowledge, a seven-year-old toddler 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 behavioral 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 the very high birthrate in the world.
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.
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.
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 very 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.