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Japan's Kyoto varsity finds patient's own stem cells from bone marrow can be used for treating osteonecrosis

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 08:00 IST
Peethambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai

By using patients' own Stem Cells from the bone marrow, a new method of treatment for Osteonecrosis, a disease affecting thigh bones, has been developed by scientists in the Kyoto University of Japan. The initial research was proved encouraging, said Dr Tomoki Aoyama, department for Tissue Regeneration, Institute for Frontier Sciences, Kyoto University, while participating a seminar in Chennai.

Dr Aoyama was delivering a lecture on 'induced Pluripotent Stem Cells' (iPS) organized by the Chennai chapter of Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) in commemoration of its third anniversary. NCRM is an Indo-Japanese project, carrying out research, training clinical applications-protocol development in Regenerative Medicine-based on cell therapeutics.

He said under the leadership of Dr Toguchida, head of department of Tissue Regeneration, treatment was done on around 20 patients and the results were found positive.

Osteonecrosis is commonly found in elderly persons affecting their thigh bones. The symptom of the disease is pain in the thigh bone, gradually it becomes severe and in the end the bone may collapse.

While speaking to Pharmabiz, Dr Aoyama said, "Osteonecrosis is a disease resulting from the temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to the bones. Without blood, the bone tissue dies, and ultimately the bone may collapse. If the process involves the bones near a joint, it often leads to collapse of the joint surface. The disease is caused by impaired blood supply to the bone, but it is not always clear what causes that impairment."

To a query about the symptoms of the disease, he said, "In the early stages of osteonecrosis, people may not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses, most of the patients experience pain in the joints. If osteonecrosis progresses and the bone and surrounding joint surface collapse, pain may develop or increase dramatically. The period of time between the first symptoms and loss of joint function is different for each person, but it typically ranges from a few months to more than a year."

The director of the Chennai Chapter of NCRM said, Dr Aoyam is working on induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and this is the latest hot topic of the stem cell research. He added that this was the first time in India a scientist working on iPS is delivering a speech on the subject.

According to the doctors doing research in Stem Cells, the iPS is taken from the skin, and by appropriate tissue engineering techniques, these are converted into something like embryonic stem cells. By this process, without killing an embryo, iPS can be created. They said the world's first iPS was created in the Kyoto University by Dr Shinya Yamanaka and his research team. Dr Aoyama is one of the associates of Dr Yamanaka.

Prof M Ponnavaikko vice-chancellor of Bharathidasan University, while addressing the gathering, expressed his apprehension over the ethical issues involved in stem cell therapy. While the regenerative medicine would create a medical revolution, researchers must address the questions on the risks involved in getting treated with stem cells. The longevity of stem cells must be discussed and their side effects must be made clear to the public, he said.

At the end of the seminar, Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) signed a MoU for starting PhD programmes in Stem Cell Research and Immuno Therapy with Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli. Now, Kyoto University is planning to go for iPS in animal studies in collaboration with NCRM for treating various diseases, Dr Samuel Abraham said.


- Courtesy Pharma Bizz, 15 October 2008 issue.
*"Nichi" stands for Japan and "In" stands for India. This institute started on an Indo-Japan collaboration now has spreaded further with global alliances
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