Stem cell research is a hot topic and a cutting-edge technology in the field of medical science research. In that case, can India be too far behind?

India has developed a stem cell centre in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. And the good news is it’s recent success. The doctors at the centre used stem cell therapy on a young man who was unable to walk. Here is an excerpt from The Hindu article:

This is the first time that Indian doctors have resorted to stem cell therapy to cure a spinal cord problems.
The lucky man is a construction workder called Akbar Ali, who he fell from the fourth floor of a building being built by a firm in Abu Dhabi. The doctors there fitted a plate to fix his spinal fracture, but he was unable to stand up on his own. However, doctors in Lifeline hospital, in collaboration with the Indo-Japanese joint venture Nichi In Centre For Regenerative Medicine (NCRA), used autologous or “own body” stem therapy in December 2006 to treat Ali. Now he is walking on his own.

Stem cell therapy is expected to change the future of the human race. Diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s, as well as spinal cord injuries are just a few of the diseases which this therapy is expected to treat. There have been some ethical issues involved in using embryos (unused embryos from in-vitro fertility treatments) to source stem cells. While embryos are considered the best source, effective stem cells can also be extracted from the umbilical cords of newborn babies. This is harmless to both mother and child. Stem cells from adults or from amniotic fluid are not considered the best.

What brings a lot of hope for the future of stem cell therapy in India is that stem cell banking is doing good in India. More than 3,000 pregnant women from all over the country have enrolled for it in the past year and a half! The maximum enrolment comes from mothers in metros like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. 

In India we do tend to have some traditional taboos about donation of body parts, but donation of umblical cords doesn’t appear to carry with it any stigma. With increased awareness, more and more women are bound to come forward and who knows, with our burgeoning population, maybe one day India could become the stem cell bank for the whole world!

Update: This is a link to the NCRM site, a centre for Regenerative Medicine: Ncrm.org. NCRM carries out research, training (of both scientists and physicians) as well as clinical applications-protocol development in regenerative medicine based on cell therapeutics, with emphasis on stem cells, Progenitor cells, precursor cells and autologous cells. The Institute is managed by the Hope Foundation, India. From this site you can more information about this subject.