Tuesday April 24, 2018

India tops in development of Stem cell treatment, also it can be a pathbreaking Therapy for Diabetes, Autism

Stem cell therapy has turned out to be a ray of hope for most patients who are trying to find a cure for incurable diseases

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Doctors operating on a patient (representational image), Pixabay
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Jan 18, 2017: Stem cell therapy has turned out to be a ray of hope for most patients who are trying to find a cure for incurable diseases. Researchers and experts believe India has been at the top in the development of stem cell treatment followed by several other countries like China and Japan. However, due to lack of awareness, most people don’t think of stem cell therapy as an option for treating most of the incurable diseases.

One of the major issues that India is battling is increasing incidence of diabetes and autism. According to reports, more than 10 million children in India suffer from autism. About 1 to 1.5 per cent of such children are aged 2-9. Autism by far is a mental condition which is present from early childhood, characterised by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts, and also characterised by weakened social interface, weakened communication and indulging in repetitive behaviour.

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In the case of diabetes, it is one of the most talked-about diseases across the world and especially in India, but awareness on this is still low. Diabetes generally occurs due to failure or damage of the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas called Beta cells. Diabetes can be classified into 2 types: Type 1 (T1DM) and Type 2 (T2DM).

Stem cells are part of the human body and have the unique ability of naturally finding and repairing the place of damage within. Over the past two decades, it has been made possible to treat T1DM by transplanting islet cells or even whole pancreas from cadaveric donors (allogenic transplantation). Transplants can enable the body to regain control of blood sugar levels so that insulin injections are no longer needed.

Islet transplantations are not very common, because whole pancreas transplants involve major surgery and carry significant risk. Transplants require the immune system to be suppressed so that the new “alien” organ is not rejected. Immuno-suppressant drugs leave the recipient vulnerable to infections and often have side-effects. One of the biggest problems faced by islet transplantation is the lack of donors.

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This can be overcome by using patient’s own stem cells (autologous transplantation), bypassing all the complications, rejections and side-effects. Research has shown that stem cells present in the patient’s pancreas are able to make new Beta cells. Beta cell progenitors have been found in the pancreas of both rodents and humans; it may be possible to grow islet cells from patient’s existing islet cells. Alternately, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) treatment is also being explored. These can be sourced from the patient’s own adipose tissue (fat), umbilical cord, menstrual fluid, bone marrow and the like.

Clinical trials inserting MSCs into Type 1 diabetes patients take advantage of two properties of these cells. Firstly, they have the regenerative potential to repair Beta cells and, secondly, they can modulate the immune system by inhibiting the responses that lead to the auto-immune attack on pancreatic Beta cells. Since these stem cells come from the patient’s own body, there is also no risk of rejection or side-effects. MSCs may be injected intravenously or within the pancreas itself. This approach promotes Beta cell function, thereby reducing or eliminating the requirement for exogenous insulin.

The central government is also planning to curb the growing incidence of diabetes by stringent measures, including higher taxes and stricter advertisement norms to regulate sale of sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food.

Clinical trials are also under way for autism. Experts believe the umbilical cord stem cells are ideal for treating this because they allow doctors to administer uniform doses as they don’t require collection of stem cells from the patient considering it could be a laborious process for child and the parent. Because they are collected right after birth, umbilical cord-derived cells are much more potent than their “older” counterparts like bone marrow-derived cells.

With trials under way, stem cell therapy could be an effective solution in treating autism and Type 1 diabetes rather than harmful drugs. (IANS)

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Indian Entrepreneurs Build Mobile Apps To Help Patients With Diabetes

New app to help track diabetes in rural India

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check-up for diabetes
Check-up for Diabetes. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an innovative smartphone app that could enable community health workers track the growing burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, especially in the rural areas.

Named “Smart Health”, the app will be used by community health workers called as ASHAs, who will be trained to screen and identify people suffering from diabetes or at high risk of the disease in the rural communities.

The ASHAs will then offer them lifestyle and diet advice, refer them to a doctor for drug treatment, and follow up on their adherence to treatment and control.

Diabetes
Diabetes. Pixabay

“Around 50 million people in India have Type 2 diabetes and that number is growing every year. The app will help people living in rural areas to access timely, affordable and guideline-based healthcare in the community, reduce the risk of developing life-threatening complications and ultimately save lives,” Vivekanand Jha, Professor and Executive Director of The George Institute for Global Health, said in a statement.

“Digital technology coupled with using the experience and knowledge of local health workers. This is innovation at its best,” he added.

An estimated 25 million people have diabetes in rural India and the number is rising rapidly, the statement said.

The app will expand the role of community health workers with digital technology and help address the growing burden on chronic disease.

It can also serve an example to other countries struggling with the rising cost of providing essential healthcare to their citizens, the researchers said.  IANS