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Stem cell cure to blood diseases possible: Expert
10.25.2009 (GMT+5.5)

Chennai:   Treating blood cancers such as aplastic aneamia and thalassemia by stem cells engineered in the lab would be possible in the near future, according to a renowned stem cell scientist. 

Participating in an international stem cell meet organised by the Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) Dr Yukio Nakamura, a world renowned Stem Cell scientist and head of Bio Resources Centre, Riken institute, Japan, said the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells(IPS cell) technology discovered by Japanese scientists would pave way for such breakthrough.

He said ''this technology does not involve usage of embryonic stem cells and, therefore, is devoid of ethical conflicts'', he said, while delivering a lecture on the occasion of fourth anniversary of NCRM, an Indo-Japan Joint Venture Institute. 

Stating that Indo-Japan collaboration in Science has led to new discoveries, he said this ray of hope for blood cancer victims had another shot in the arm, with the possibility of laboratory expansion of human bone marrow blood forming stem cells (CD34+ cells) by the NCRM team without using animal protein, a NCRM release said here today.

Dr Yukio said Red Blood Cells(RBC) carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body which were depleted in conditions like aplastic anemia and in thalassemias defective blood cells are formed. Both need multiple transfusion of blood components. However finding donors whose blood or bone marrow would match that of the patients' HLA for such transfusions was difficult. 

He said his team had developed a technology by which they could engineer RBCs in the lab from iPS cells in large quantities thereby avoiding the need for searching donors whenever the patient needs a transfusion, which has been proven in animal studies for safety and efficacy. 

Dr Yukio said another breakthrough discovery of multiplying the bone marrow CD34+stem cells(which are pluripotent and can also form blood components) in the lab was presented by the NCRM scientists during the stem cell meet. 

''There are several earlier reports in the literature of this nature using many growth factors and serum derived from animal sources, which not only make the procedure very expensive but causes concern of contamination due to animal serum''. 

''However in our methodology we have not used growth factors or animal serum, which makes this technology affordable and contamination free'', said NCRM Director Dr Abraham said. 

Speaking on the occasion, Tamil Nadu Veterinary University Vice-Chancellor Dr P Thangaraju said TANUVAS was proposing to set up a world class facility for animal stem cell research, treatment and banking in Chennai in collaboration with NCRM. 
- Courtesy Times Chennai, 26th October 2009 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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