Stem cell therapy can help tame cancer to manageable levels

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Within ten years from now, cancer can be tamed with the application of stem cell therapy and the killer disease could be made a manageable one. For this, India should take measures to develop medical practitioners with expertise in the field of cancer biology, latest techniques like gene therapy, DNA micro array and stem cell research, said Dr V Parthasarathy, associate professor, Department of Pharmaceutical sciences, Annamalai University.

He was speaking on “Recent Advances in Stem Cell Technology with Reference to Breast Cancer” at Meenakshi College for Women in Chennai. The Conference was organized by the Department of Advanced Zoology and Biotechnology of the College.

The global market for stem cell therapy is expected to be 20 billion dollar by 2014-2015, and India is expected to have a market share of about 540 dollar million by 2014-2015 with an annual growth rate of 15 per cent. It will strengthen the base for research to develop cost effective drug molecules for cancer and other disorders, he hoped. Currently the cost of the cancer therapy is not affordable to the poor and stem cell therapy will be the best alternative to rescue the cancer patients.

He said even today cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and it is a major public health problem in developing countries like India. There is an estimated 3.0 million cases of cancer in India. Among these, breast cancer is a major cause of cancer next to lung cancer. Every year 75,000 new cases of breast cancer are reported in the country, out of which a small but increasing number is from men. In future, this figure is likely to increase due to factors such as environmental, food habits, consumption of genetically modified foodstuffs etc. so there is an increasing demand to use alternative concepts or approaches for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Further, Dr Parthasarathy pointed out that there was an urgent need to develop indigenous technology to produce most efficacious, cost effective anticancer drugs or to develop novel treatment option for all people irrespective of their socio economic status. To achieve this, academic and research institutes of our country should make advances in biology to identify molecular switches, cell signalling paths that trigger the growth of cancer cells in the human body

The stem cells are primitive, undifferentiated cell that gives rise to other types of cells and they are the foundation cells for every organ, tissue and cell in the body. Stem cells have a finite lifespan, and thus most cells in the body duplicate and replenish themselves.

Stem cells share the three general characteristics such as (a) the ability to differentiate into specialized cells, (b) the ability to regenerate an infinite number of times and (c) the ability to relocate and differentiate where needed. Besides, there are three major classes of stems cells have been identified which are Totipotent, Pluripotent and Multipotent, Dr Parthasarathy said.

from saffron Media,


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