Thursday, 7 February 2008
Centre to allow use of stem cells in treatment
February 7, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb. 6: The Central government will soon come out with legislation permitting the use of stem cells to treat a number of diseases including liver failure and heart ailments. The law will allow hospitals to use embryonic and adult stem cells for medical treatment, but human cloning will not be permitted. Lakhs of patients suffering from problems related to the liver, pancreas, brain, heart, blood and kidney will benefit once Parliament passes the Bill.
At present, only a few research centres in the country have obtained special permission from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the department of science and technology and the department of biotechnology to conduct laboratory research on stem cells. The proposed legislation will give a general licence to hospitals and research centres to put the technology to therapeutic use.
Hepatologist Dr C.M. Habibullah, who is a member of the committee which drafted the guidelines on stem cell research and therapy, said the proposed legislation would permit embryonic stem cell research with donor consent. There is also a provision for cord blood banks, which will have to be registered with the Drugs Controller General of India.
The Act will provide for stringent punishment including penalty and jail term for hospitals and research institutions that misuse the technology. The Stem Cell Committee has made it clear that termination of pregnancy to obtain foetal tissue should not be allowed.
The Vice-President, Mr Mohammad Hamid Ansari, will lay the foundation stone for the Centre for Stem Cells Sciences, India’s first state-of-the-art stem cell research and therapy centre, at Upparapalli in the city on Thursday. The Centre will be set up in three stages at an investment of Rs 150 crore. The first phase will be ready by 2009, Dr Habibullah said on Wednesday. “The CSCS is a unique initiative as it involves a blending of efforts by researchers in cutting-edge science and socially responsible entrepreneurs,” he said. “It will become the premier stem cell institution in Asia by 2012.”
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