India, Ukraine to Sign MoU for Stem Cells Research

NEW DELHI, India -- The Union Government will soon sign a Memor-andum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ukraine Academy of Medical Sciences (UAMS) to jointly work in the area of stem cell research, informed sources say.

Besides, a delegation from Denmark will soon be in India to work out collaborative agreement between the two countries for stem cell research programme.

Keen to rope in all available expertise to its planned strengthening of the stem cell research programme in the country, the Indian government has also initiated talks with select European nations such as the UK, Sweden and Germany and expects to sign fruitful deals in the next six months.

‘‘The Centre is eyeing a MoU with Denmark and a delegation from Denmark will be in the country to explore avenues of co-operation. The government also plans similar stem cell research tie-ups with the UK, Sweden and Germany,’’ official sources informed.

Under the agreement with Ukraine, the Centre plans to utilise Ukraine’s expertise in establishing stem cell banks in India and it will provide training as well as technological inputs for the planned project.

Top officials from the country during a recent visit to Ukraine has met with the UAMS authorities and the details are worked out, said sources.

The two countries are expected to sign an MoU shortly. This is in line with the National Biotechnology Development Strategy draft put in the public domain by the Science & Technology minister recently. It may be noted that the government has announced in the draft policy document that a virtual network of stem cell centres will be established, using a city cluster approach to network scientists and clinician. Two core stem cell research centres will be established together with several network sub-clusters and an umbilical cord stem cell bank will also be set up, stated the policy document.

India has plans to set up at least three stem cell banks, although the centres are yet to be finalised the possible list include top healthcare facilities like the PGI Chandigarh, AIIMS, New Delhi, CMC Vellore or KEM Hospital Mumbai. Autologous cord blood and cord blood collection for research, are the key objectives of the project.

Parents can use banks to store the umbilical cord blood upto 20 years after childbirth, which could be used in future to treat any genetic and other disorders/diseases that the child may face. However, this would be expensive as well.

Under the programme select centres across the country will also collect cord blood to be utilised for advancing basic research that will result in clinical application for complex unresolved health problems. Although earlier, cord blood was discarded as medical waste after child birth, recognising the unique qualities and potential of stem cells in therapy, countries across the globe started banking the cord blood as well as initiated aggressive research.

Stem cells are commonly used in bone marrow transplantation. Cord blood originated stem cells also find application in acute and chronic leukaemias, stem cell disorders, myeloproliferative disorders, lymphoproliferative disorders, phagocyte disorders, liposomal storage diseases, histiocytic disorders, inherited erythrocyte abnormalities, congenital (inherited) immune system disorders, other inherited disorders, inherited platelet abnormalities, plasma cell disorders, other malignancies (certain tumours/cancers) and autoimmune diseases.

Research is at different stages across the globe in these different arenas and the other emerging clinical stem cell applications are in Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, diabetes, liver disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, etc.

Source: Healthcare Management


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