Stem cell research: India in top 10 list - The New Indian Express

Stem cell research: India in top 10 list

Published: 03rd October 2012 10:30 AM

Last Updated: 03rd October 2012 10:30 AM

Stem cell research in India is in a healthy state. This is mainly due to the fact that scientists and physicians representing both academia and industry have taken deep interest in harnessing the benefits that various types of stem cells may offer in curing diseases for which no specific cure is currently available.

Several top level academic institutions as well as industries in the biotechnology sphere are actively carrying out research in the area of stem cell biology and therapy.

The growing interest is also evidenced by a recent surge in clinical trials using various types of stem cells against a variety of indications including cardiac, vascular, arthritis, gastro-intestinal, pulmonary, respiratory and neural diseases.

India is emerging as a potential player for developing stem cell therapy and is currently in the list of top ten countries that are heavily engaged in stem cell research.

Although majority of basic research is being carried out at governmental institutions and hospitals, a number of companies/private institutions are involved in the translational research to take this novel therapeutic modality to the market following appropriate regulatory guidelines.

The strength of stem cell research in Indian industry comes from the fact that many fresh as well as experienced PhD and MD level scientists are venturing into this emerging scientific arena that has resulted in increasing number of research publications and patents generating from India.

In addition, stem cell researchers with significant years of relevant experience abroad are joining forces to help facilitate a positive outcome for the development of novel therapeutics using stem cells.

The initial trend in stem cell therapy has been unpredictable to some extent as the major players in the field were busy figuring out the science and the regulatory pathways that would ultimately lead to a successful product.

The ‘hope’ versus ‘hype’ over stem cells is perhaps tilting slightly towards a positive direction as the number of clinical trials have increased dramatically over the past 3-4 years.

The scientific progress has been aptly supported by the development of appropriate preclinical animal models to test the stem cell behaviour in vivo prior to taking the cells for clinical applications. Both basic and applied stem cell research is gaining pace in India and is now a sizeable commercial industry of significant value.

A positive outcome from the ongoing clinical trials could certainly facilitate the approval of these cells for routine clinical use. The growth of the stem cell industry worldwide According to one published report, the growth potential of stem cell industry is expected to hit over US$60 billion by 2015 from an estimated value of US$20 billion that was projected in 2010.

The latest report also suggests that the number of companies engaged in some kind of stem cell research has topped over 100, and about 30-40 of these are actively pursuing stem cell based clinical trials for bringing it to the market in the next 3-5 years.

Major Asian economies are also expected to attract better investments in stem cell industry and India is expected to be in the forefront with a market growth potential with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent or more by 2015.

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