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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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President’s Call for Multi-Pronged Approach to Address Healthcare Challenges

Admitting that malnutrition and neglected tropical diseases put severe constraints on the people, Kovind said cleanliness and sanitation

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President, Healthcare, Challenges
We need to improve access to health services for the people, said Kovind at a foundation stone-laying event in Karnataka's Varuna village near Mysuru. Pixabay

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday called for a multi-pronged approach to address the healthcare challenges due to the triple burden of communicable, non-communicable and emerging diseases in the country.

“Though we have achieved a lot over the years, we are challenged by communicable, non-communicable and emerging diseases. We need to improve access to health services for the people,” said Kovind at a foundation stone-laying event in Karnataka’s Varuna village near Mysuru.

Admitting that malnutrition and neglected tropical diseases put severe constraints on the people, Kovind said cleanliness and sanitation were the basic requirement to tackle many health-related issues and diseases.

Addressing a huge gathering at the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in the village on the occasion, the President said the healthcare challenges were a fallout of the larger socio-economic problems across the country.

President, Healthcare, Challenges
Though we have achieved a lot over the years, we are challenged by communicable, non-communicable and emerging diseases. Pixabay

“Solutions to meet the health challenges need to be broad-based and multi-pronged. The stakeholders should use the power of modern medicine and traditional knowledge. They must focus on body and mind and involve in prevention and cure,” asserted Kovind.

Set up in 2008, the Academy is a tribute to Shivarathri Rajendra Mahaswamiji, whose 104th birth anniversary is being commemorated this year.

Varuna is the home town of former state chief minister and opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah.

The President is on a three-day visit to the southern state since Thursday to participate in various educational, religious and judicial functions at Mysuru and Bengaluru on Saturday.

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Kovind also visited the Hindu goddess Chammundeshwari Devi temple atop a hill on the outskirts of Mysuru. (IANS)