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Chennai Sunday 19th August 2007   

Indo-Japanese institute to launch Regenerative Medicine programme Staff Reporter

NCRM plans tie-up with Yamanishi University of Japan

CHENNAI: Nichi-in Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM), an Indo-Japanese institute working on research and application of stem cells, is planning to collaborate with Yamanashi University, Japan, for a training programme in regenerative medicine.

The programme would involve scientists, medical students and physicians of the two institutions, Samuel Abraham, Director, NCRM said here on Saturday. Initially, the training would begin as an elective course but it would soon become part of an accredited programme. It would include hands-on experience in stem cell culture and tissue engineering among other things.

In this regard, seven students from the University have arrived in Chennai to visit NCRM as well as several other institutions, including Sankara Nethralaya and Sri Ramachandra University who are working in this field.

“Regenerative medicine (RM) is treating diseases which occur due to damages caused to cells,” said Dr. Abraham. The treatment involves the use of stem cells, progenitor cells or mature adult cells to treat conditions such as spinal cord injuries, liver cirrhosis or joint problems caused by sports injuries. For instance, stem cells could be extracted from the bone marrow and injected into a damaged liver to repair it.

Though NCRM has the research and skills needed for RM, it lacks the technology needed to isolate and expand stem cells. The collaboration with Yamanashi University would provide the technology needed, which combined with Indian research, would pave the way ahead for such therapy, Dr. Abraham said.

As extraction of stem cells from the embryo or foetus was ethically controversial, the centre only used stem cells from the umbilical cord, bone marrow or adult organs like the cornea and teeth, Dr. Abraham said.

One member of the student delegate said that after studying the treatment and technology available in India, the group would spread the message of the availability of regenerative medicine among their peer group in Japan.

S. R. Subrammanniyan, vascular surgeon and chairman of the ethics committee at NCRM, said that after the age of 40, bodies lose their regenerative capacity. With more accidents occurring on roads these days, injuries such as damage to the spinal cord were becoming more common. Often, if the bread-winner was injured, the whole family suffered. In such cases, regenerative therapy could be used for treatment, he said.

In April this year, the University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NCRM for exchange of technology and joint research projects.

- Courtesy The Hindu, 19th Aug 2007 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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