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Developed nations keen in collaborative research in stem cells with Indian scientists

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 08:00 IST
Joe C Mathew, New Delhi

The Union Health Ministry has informed the Lok Sabha that India is in the process of having international research collaborations in the field of stem cell research in a big way. The US, UK, Korea, China and Singapore are among the countries that have shown interest in having collaborative activities in the area of stem cell research with Indian scientists, it has stated.

In a reply to a parliamentary query, the minister also said that the private sector companies like Reliance Life Science and Manipal AcuNova are also active in the area of stem cell research. Quoting Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), the ministry said that 15 research institutions and 3 premier health centres in the country are involved in stem cell research and related activities. This includes Institute of Immunohaematology, Mumbai (peripheral blood stem cell therapy for four aplastic anemia patients), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (clinical studies on stem cell therapies in different clinical conditions particularly Cardiovascular diseases), L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (transplantation of limbal stem cells), National Brain Research Centre (neural stem cell and its use in several congenital and acquired CNS disorder, including Parkinson's disease) and National Centre for Cell Sciences (working on developing a repository of cell cultures and cell lines, cryo-preservation technology for bone marrow and development).

Explaining the efforts of department of biotechnology in this area, the statement said that the DBT has big plans for creating infrastructure in the stem cell research arena and to create a stem cell centre at CMC Vellore with a funding of Rs.19 crore. "DBT is making efforts to promote city clusters programs at Delhi, Vellore, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore through an active and enhanced interaction and collaboration between basic researchers and clinicians. Significantly, a number of competent researchers and clinicians are already involved in stem cell research at these places. The aim of the clusters is to share information, explore collaboration with clinicians and discuss emerging policy issues. The stem cell cluster at Bangalore will consist of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), NCBS, Manipal Hospital, CMC Vellore and a local company," it said.