Stem Cell Research and Therapy

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Ethics and Regulatory Considerations of Stem Cell Research

- Lifecell Conference at Chennai Jan-2006 by Dr.Umesh Banakar

Dr.Umesh Banakar, Professor and President of Banakar Consulting Services, Indianapolis delivered a special lecture on “Stem Cell Research in Clinical Therapeutics: Insights in Regulatory Considerations” in an International Symposium on Stem Cell Therapy and Research, organized by Life Cell, in association with Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Centre in Chennai (India) on 6th January. 

Stem cells have the remarkable ability to differentiate into cell of any kind such as the cardiac, liver, nerve or the muscle cell. Scientific research has now shown that these cells can be used in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions, such as cancer and other birth defects. 

Human Embryonic Stem Cells: 

Human embryonic stem cells offer great potential for stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy represents one of the notable milestones in the history of medicine. It involves the isolation and culturing of stem cells under artificial laboratory conditions. This technique plays a vital role in regenerative medicine, a modality that has captured the attention of doctors and general public alike. It may be possible to perhaps to even cure certain chronic diseases and the most dreaded cancer. The American President George W. Bush on 09 June 2001 agreed to use federal funds for human embryonic stem cells. But worldwide protests do exist regarding the use of embryos generated for reproductive purposes as sources of embryonic stem cells. 

Adult Stem Cells: 

Adult stem cells are commonly found in tissues or organs such as the bone marrow, peripheral blood, brain etc. Adult stem cells can be used for regeneration and repair of diseased tissue. One disadvantage associated with adult stem cells is the limited availability of these cells in brain, bone marrow, liver, blood, blood vessels, muscles and skin. Adult stem cells get transdifferentiated to give rise to new cells or tissue and thereby enable regeneration. Cells derived from the patient, can be used for his treatment, eliminating the need for immunosuppression. This type of treatment where the cells obtained from a patient are grown under artificial conditions to be later transplanted to the same individual is commonly referred to as autologus stem cell transplantation. 

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