Chennai: Stem cell developed in labs could help in treating some types of blood cancer in the near future, renowned Japenese stem cell scientist Dr Yukio Nakamura says.
Blood cancers such as aplastic aneamia (a deficiency of red blood cells) and thalassemia (an inherited form of anaemia caused by faulty synthesis of haemoglobin) can be treated by the stem cell technology.
"The technology, developed by Japanese scientists, does not involve usage of embryonic stem cells and therefore, is devoid of ethical conflicts", Nakamura, a world renowned stem cell scientist and head of Bio Resources Centre, Riken Institute, Japan said in Chennai.
Nakamura was in the city recently to participate in an international stem cell meet, organised by the Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM), a Indo-Japan joint venture institute. Explaining about the stem cell process, he said "after eliminating blood cancer cells by anti-cancer chemicals, normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are also eliminated.
Thus, HSC transplantation is necessary. Since HSCs are present in bone marrow or umbilical cord blood in the human being, bone marrow transplantation or umbilical cord blood transplantation is useful. "Since HSCs can be produced from embryonic stem cells, it can be applied in the clinic for therapy of blood cancer".
Both aplastic anemia and thalassemias need multiple transfusions of blood components. However, finding donors whose blood or bone marrow would match that of the patients' HLA for such transfusions was difficult, Nakamura said. His team had developed a technology by which they could engineer RBCs in lab from IPS cells in large quantities which had been proven in animal studies for safety and efficacy.
The Cell Engineering Division of Riken Bio Resource Center is a not-for-profit public "Cell Bank" that accepts donation and deposit of human and animal cell materials developed by life science research community. "We examine, standardise, amplify, preserve, and provide cell materials to scientists around the world... aiming to contribute to the fields of developmental biology, transplantation medicine and regenerative medicine", he said.
On Indian perspective, NCRM Director Abraham said "Some of the thalassemia are genetically inherited and are prevelant in some specific parts of the country and also its prevelance is due to consanguineous marraige within those communities" The technology of lab engineered IPS cells will be of great help to patients when it becomes a clinical application.
NCRM proposed to start some studies using Japanese technology for in-vitro expansion of Bone Marrow/Umbilical Cord Blood cells which can be clinically applied and in producing RBCs from lab Engineered IPS Cells as a translational research in collaboration with scientists like Dr Nakamura, he added.