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India to fund stem cell research, fight poverty as well

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Kolkata: The remarkable ability of the human foetus to heal wounds without scars is still a mystery to scientists even after 30 long years. This yet unsolvable mystery if solved, with the help of stem cell research, would hugely impact India with its disease burden but has to be balanced with the need to fight poverty, said a globally prominent regenerative medicine expert.

“A clinical observation that has stood the test of time is that human fetal wounds from surgery performed in the second trimester (early fetal stage) heal without scarring.”

“Unlocking the secret would make Bill Gates look relatively poor,” said Andrew Burd, centenary professor, department of regenerative medicine and translational science, School of Tropical Medicine, here.

Burd explained for over 30 years, the biological secrets of scarless healing in the fetus have eluded researchers and at the same time the fascination for regeneration – salamanders and newts regenerating entire organs – has grown.

Advances in molecular biology and stem cell technology have spurred research and introduction of technologies to generate new tissues and replace diseased cells.

“By unlocking the secret, we can remove the diseases related to scarring and we won’t have lung, kidney or heart disease etc..”

“But for India, pumping in money to boost infrastructure for stem cell research is “a question of balance”.

“It is fighting poverty and illiteracy but it can’t ignore its burden of disease,” Burd told reporters at the ‘Frontiers in Translational and Regenerative Biology’ conference here on Sunday.

While the US is “far ahead”, China is “storming along” and Europe shows “exceptional quality of research”, India is a “late starter” in the domain, said Burd an expert in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

“There is a lack of understanding and political difficulties. What people need to understand is that we are not taking away human embryosa we are taking placentas and umbilical cords which are supposed to be thrown away,” said Burd, who was earlier associated with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and in the healthcare sector in Britain. (IANS)

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Depression Can Negatively Impact Heart Patients

In another study, the team found that heart attack patients diagnosed with depression were 54 percent more likely to be hospitalised

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Over 5 crore people in India are known to suffer depressive disorders Pixabay
Over 5 crore people in India are known to suffer depressive disorders Pixabay

Depression, even when undiagnosed, can have many negative effects on patients with cardiovascular diseases, including poor healthcare experiences and higher health costs, say researchers.

The study found that people at high risk of depression were more than five times more likely to have a poor self-perceived health status and almost four times more likely to be dissatisfied with their healthcare.

The intake of probiotics may prevent depression
Heart diseases can be worsened by Depression. Wikimedia Commons

Patients at high risk of depression had notably worse healthcare-related quality of life. They spent more on overall and out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures yearly.

They were more than two times more likely to be hospitalised and have an increased use of the emergency room, said the researchers while presenting the results at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2018 in Virginia.

Also Read: Knee pain can trigger depression in elderly

“This could be because people at high risk for depression simply haven’t been diagnosed and treated for depression yet,” said Victor Okunrintemi, a research student at Baptist Health South Florida, a US-based non-profit.

In another study, the team found that heart attack patients diagnosed with depression were 54 per cent more likely to be hospitalised and 43 per cent more likely to have emergency room visits, compared to those not diagnosed with depression.

depression
Depression can be worsen. Wikimedia Commons

“Depression and heart attack often coexist, which has been associated with worse health experiences for these patients,” Okunrintemi said. About one-fifth of cardiovascular disease patients suffer from depression. “While we don’t know which comes first — depression or cardiovascular disease — the consensus is that depression is a risk marker for cardiovascular disease,” Okunrintemi said.

It means that “if you have cardiovascular disease, there is a higher likelihood that you could also have depression, when compared with the risk in the general population”, he added. IANS