Scope of Stem Cell Banking In India
Emerging scenario In India
In India, stem cell programmes have been initiated with the aim of promoting both basic and transnational research in view of its potential applications. Strategy for promoting stem cell research (SCR) in the country is gradually taking shape.
The key components of the strategy are: creation of centres of excellence (CoE); virtual network of centres; generation of adequate human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines; human resource development through training, short and long-term overseas fellowships, etc.
The-short term goal is to study the biology of all types of adult stem cells and in parallel evaluate its safety and efficacy in animal models. The Government of India has provided support to establish a Centre for SCR to carry out basic and translational research; training centres to provide training for both embryonic and adult stem cells.
Emerging scenario In India, several science agencies of the government are promoting SCR. Priority areas for research have been identified by means of thorough discussion in various fora on basic and applied research for specific diseases and various programmes have been supported on embryonic and adult stem cells.
In addition, studies have been supported to explore the potential applications of adult stem cells in stroke, cardiac, pancreatic, spinal cord injury, use of lectins for haematopoitic stem cell preservation, etc. Apart from the government, some industry research organizations are also involved in SCR.
The training centre for embryonic and adult stem cells has been supported jointly at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCSAR), Bangalore.
It has been decided to support both clinical and basic research on stem cells simultaneously.
For clinical application of stem cells, the initial focus could be on the phase-I clinical trial in cardiology, stroke, orthopaedics, limb ischemic disease, bone marrow transplantation for leukaemia, spinal cord injury, liver, etc. As the experience and success is gained, this may be expanded to other clinical applications also.
Would Stem Cell Bank be a Reality?
Thorough research is needed to understand exactly how stem cells work and how their potential can be harnessed for treatments of various diseases. Stem cell preservation should maintain a good quality of research materials to carry out detailed basic research that may lead to clinical applications.
A stem cell bank may be a useful repository for all types of stem cells, i.e. cord blood, adult and embryonic which may resolve the issue of standardization of cells/research materials as it is an important criteria for comparison and the reproducibility of results.
Stem cell banking in India has recently been seeing some god results in terms of banking the cells for its future uses. The bank may hold stem cell lines derived originally from embryonic, foetal and adult tissues. This would also reduce the use of surplus embryos for the development of stem cell lines by individual teams. There is a need to develop genetically and biologically more diverse stem cell lines with better technologies in order to speed research for therapeutic purposes.
To set up a stem cell bank it requires proper networking among hospitals for supply of cord blood and a public-private partnership model may work. Stem cells obtained from the bank may be used to examine and to better understand the preservation process of all development, to learn how specific cell types and specific tissues and organs are formed. It may also be useful in enabling an understanding of the properties and behaviour of stem cells to determine their usefulness for future cell therapies; to understand what goes wrong in cells to cause various diseases.
Currently there are a few banks who are renowned in the field of stem cell banking in India. Some of them are Babycell, Lifecell, Cordlife etc.
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