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      DBT Moots Dedicated Stem Cell Facility

      Posted AtPharmaBiz

      As part of concerted efforts to encourage stem cell research, the department of Biotechnology (DBT) Task Force on stem cells, which met in Bangalore, has insisted on the need to set up one centre in the country as a dedicated facility for the availability of stem cells in bulk for medical use.

      The facility should be state-of-the-art, adhering to good manufacturing practices and manned by a qualified team of professionals. The dedicated centre could be accessed by all hospitals in the country to source stem cells.

      Thirty per cent of the total budget for DBT is allocated for stem cell research projects. However,in the last seven months 99 per cent of the projects that came in for approval were rejected because it lacked a concrete research component.

      According to DBT to develop stem cells lines with mesenchymal cells is easier than developing embryonic stem cells.

      In the wake of this decision, Manipal Stem Cell Research Centre in Bangalore is in the process of conducting clinical trials for mesenchymal (allogenic) stem cell and has set aside over Rs. 1 crore for equipment installation.

      The mesenchymal stem cell unit would allow the hospital to treat larger number of patients faster and at lower costs, Dr. Satish Tote, research director, Stem Cell Research, Manipal Hospital and member of the Task Force on stem cell, Government of India told Pharmabiz . He further added, "If the facility comes up then it will be easy to get mesenchymal stem cells like getting blood from a blood bank or a drug from a pharmacy.

      Manipal is also speeding up efforts to get its approvals for its facility from ICMR, DBT and the DCGI for autologous stem cell lab, which will collect mesenchymal stem the cells from the patients' bone marrow or peripheral blood, processed, frozen and stored.

      The high level meeting held by the DBT officials in Bangalore constituted experts from the country and abroad including Dr. Mahendra Rao, National Institute of Health, Dr. Allan Smith, Cognet Therapeutics, Dr. Mark Johnston, Vesta Therapeutics. The team of foreign experts advocated that stem cell was the future as it could lead to new treatment options for serious and fatal diseases. But pointed out that there was a need for regulatory guidelines in India or else they should adopt the NIH regulatory principles as a gold standard in stem cell research.

      October 11, 2005


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