Stem Cells Current Affairs - 2020

Ministry of Health: Complaints to ICMR on misuse of Stem Cell therapy

On March 20, 2020, the Ministry of Heath informed Lok Sabha that ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has received several complaints on misuse of stem cell therapy.

Highlights

The National Apex Committee operating under the ministry is evaluating the complaints. The committee is to recommend actions against these complaints. The National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy examines technical, scientific, legal and social issues related to Stem Cell Research and therapy in Inia

What is the issue?

According to the National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research, there are no approved stem cell therapy other than Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT). However, evidences have been submitted to ICMR that there are other advanced Stem Cell therapies being conducted in India though GoI is yet to bring upon approval for such technologies and therapies.

ICMR

The ICMR is the apex body for the formulation, promotion and coordination of biomedical research in the country. Currently, ICMR is the nodal agency that is looking after the control of Corona Virus and the guidelines to test the virus

Scientists for first time grow miniature human oesophagus in lab

Scientists for first time have successfully grown oesophageal organoids, a miniature, functional versions of human food pipe using pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) in laboratory. This bioengineered oesophageal organoids paves way for new ways to study and test drugs against gut disorders. It may also lead to personalised diagnostic methods and focused in part on developing regenerative tissue therapies to treat or cure GI disorders. It will help to study birth defects like esophageal atresia, organoids, eosinophilic esophagitis and Barrett’s metaplasia. Moreover bioengineer genetically matched esophageal tissue can be also transplanted in individual patients.

Oesophagus

It is long muscular tube part of digestive system that connects mouth to stomach to actively pass food. It is also called as gastro-intestinal tract (GI tract or gullet or food pipe). It is around 25cm long in adults. After food is swallowed walls of oesophagus squeeze together (contract) and moves food down to the stomach. The area where oesophagus joins stomach is called gastro-oesophageal junction.

Oesophagus has four layers:

  • Mucosa – inner layer, which is moist to help food pass smoothly into stomach.
  • Submucosa –Contains glands that produce mucus (phlegm), which keeps oesophagus moist.
  • Muscularis – It is muscle layer, which pushes food down to stomach.
  • Adventitia – It is outer layer, which attaches oesophagus to nearby parts of body.

Oesophagus can be affected by congenital diseases, such as oesophageal atresia, a medical condition causing narrowing or malformation of oesophagus due to genetic mutations. Other diseases related to it includes oesophageal cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or rare ailment called achalasia, a disease affecting muscles of lower oesophagus that prevents contraction of organ and passage of food.

Stem cell

Stem cell is undifferentiated cell of multicellular organism which is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells (through mitosis) of same type and from which certain other kinds of cell may be formed by the cellular differentiation. There are two types of stem cells widely used

  • Embryonic stem cells: They come from human embryos that are three to five days old. They are harvested during process called in-vitro fertilization. They are known as pluripotent stem cells. These cells can give rise to virtually any other type of cell in the body.
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs): They can differentiate into all types of specialized cells in body. They can potentially produce new cells for any organ or tissue.