Chennai Friday 8th February 2008
‘Stem cell therapy will benefit patients’ Special Correspondent
COIMBATORE: In the backdrop of the Association of Spine Surgeons of India challenging claims of a cure for spinal cord injuries through stem cell therapy, a meeting organised by K.G. Hospital here on Sunday was of the firm view that this form of treatment was a boon to patients.
Various issues surrounding the therapy were dealt with at the meeting that was organised to discuss its clinical applications. Apart from touching upon the therapy for various organs at the meeting, Director of Nichi-in Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) Samuel J.K. Abraham also told presspersons that it would work well on patients with liver cirrhosis and spinal cord injuries, provided these people were young and if the level of injuries was low. The therapy was also a boon to persons with peripheral vascular diseases and ischaemic heart diseases.
World-wide research was on into the applications of stem cell therapy, including India where many hospitals were trying out this therapy.
The hospital said the applications now were safe, as the cells were autologous (from the patients’ own bone marrow). This procedure was permitted by the Indian Council for Medical Research.
A press release from the hospital’s Stem Cell Therapy Director Y.Y. Rao said that after breakthrough research in the late Nineties, now there were clinics having such stem cell therapies in countries such as Dominican Republic, Cuba, Russia, Singapore, Bangkok, Germany.
Plasticity of the brain has been a known fact since 1890 and for the first time, literature on regenerative capability of mammalian brain was documented in the literature in 1969 by Joseph Altman. (He discovered adult neurogenesis ? the creation of new neurons in the adult brain ? in the 1960s). Thereafter, in the past ten years, the regenerative capability of the central nervous system of the human beings had been well documented.
Multi-centric study of the applications in select cases of spinal cord injury, liver cirrhosis and ischaemic heart diseases had proven safety and even efficacy. These were patients who had no other option of treatment, he said.
In a multi-centric study conducted in India, NCRM had proven the safety of spinal cord injury treatment using stem cells in all patients. Six per cent of the patients could have remarkable improvement, both motor power and sensory, and they could stand up without crutches. One of them could walk even without crutches and 25 per cent of the patients could have near control of bowel and/or urinary bladder.
Dr. Abraham claimed that a doctor in Ecuador had treated about 30 patients with spinal cord injuries and they had shown signs of improvement. He also disputed statements that the cord did not have any regenerative capacity. He also said that cases of improvements in spinal cord injury cases had been presented at international meets on therapeutics.