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Genetic Engineering Stem Cell Research Stem Cell Research

Final proof of stem cell research on heart: AIIMS

19 years, 3 months ago

9406  0
Posted on Apr 04, 2005, 7 a.m. By Bill Freeman

The premier medical institute in the country is all set to prove to the world the efficacy of its stem cell therapy conducted over the last 18 months on heart patients, with the help of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) technique. "Positron Emission Tomography is being installed at AIIMS next month, through which we will get the final proof of our work on heart patients.
The premier medical institute in the country is all set to prove to the world the efficacy of its stem cell therapy conducted over the last 18 months on heart patients, with the help of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) technique.

"Positron Emission Tomography is being installed at AIIMS next month, through which we will get the final proof of our work on heart patients. All the patients would be screened for finding how viable our work was and would also study various heart tissues of the patients metabolically," Dr P. Venugopal, Director AIIMS, said.

"In our study we used this therapy on 33 patients and all of them are showing positive results," he says.

Researchers at AIIMS have also conducted some pilot studies for use of stem cells in diabetics and now plan to inject these cells directly into pancreatic arteries of these patients.

"For future research, we are looking at all areas -diabetes, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, other neurological disorders and Parkinson's disease. The residual damage after stroke too can be minimised by injecting stem cells," Dr Venugopal said.

"We also plan to inject stem cells directly into the pancreatic arteries of patients suffering from diabetes," he says.

"Stem cell therapy can be used for all those diseases which uptill now had no cure and patients suffering from them are bound to die - Alzheimer's, cardiac muscle end stage, liver, kidney failure. The research has come as a boon for them," he says.

"Stem cells have unlimited application. As our bodies are grown in the mothers' womb from a single cell, the stem cells have the same potential and can grow into any cell - of heart, brain, kidney, liver, etc," says Dr B.G. Matapurkar, consultant surgeon and researcher, Maulana Azad Medical College.

Dr Matapurkar has already regenerated abdominal wall and urethra using stem cell and even obtained human patent for its use. He has also regenerated bile duct and urinary bladder, Fallopian tube and uterus.

"While some of these patents are already being used on humans, others are in earlier stages of being experimented on dogs and monkeys," says Dr Matapurkar, noting "when I first published my research in 1991, stem cell was a forbidden word."

Dr Venugopal says today many countries have adopted stem cell therapy as a method of curing different diseases and many new approaches are emerging.

Explaining the method, he says stem cell is the primitive cell which can be modified and developed into any specialised cell, be it heart muscle, skeletal muscle, liver, kidney, brain.

"A foetuses' organs develop from stem cells, we are utilising the capacity of primitive cells to develop into organs which are diseased," he says.

Citing the case of heart disease, he says when heart muscles are damaged, there is no cure other than transplantation. But because of donor shortage, needs of a large number of patients cannot be fulfilled.

Stem cell therapy offers an alternative source, where we inject stem cells into the diseased heart muscles and then let them grow in a normal way.

"In our study we used this therapy on 33 patients and all of them are showing positive results," he says adding no additional costs are involved as we use the person's own's stem cells.

"In fact, the stem cells can be extracted from a person's umblical cord blood and stored in liquid at -196 degree celcius for 50 - 60 yrs. Whenever the person gets any diseases, he can be cured using those cells.

He further explains that no ethical issues are involved in the stem cell research using adult cells, as it is a patient's own cell that are being used. "But for our study, we did take the permission of the AIIMS Ethics Committee two years back."

On the scope of treating genetic disorders, Dr Venugopal says, "for diseases like Down's Syndrome, it would all depend on the costs. A parallel field of genetic engineering is also fast expanding where work is going on for treating the defected genes."

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