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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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World Hunger To Rise Due To Climate Change: WFP

The number of people suffering from hunger because of climate change-induced drought is rising particularly in Africa and Latin America.

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WFP
Malnourished and displaced Somali children sit in a tent in their camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

The World Food Program warns climate change will have a devastating impact on agriculture and the ability of people to feed themselves. The WFP forecasts a huge increase in worldwide hunger unless action is taken to slow global warming.

The WFP warns progress in reducing global hunger is under threat by conflict and the increase in climate disasters. For the first time in several decades, the WFP reports the number of people suffering from chronic food shortages has risen.

This year, it says, 821 million people went to bed hungry, 11 million more than the previous year.

World Hunger, WFP
Gatdin Bol, 65, who fled fighting and now survives by eating fruit from the trees, sits under a tree in the town of Kandak, South Sudan. VOA

Gernot Laganda, WFP’s chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction, notes the number of climate disasters has more than doubled since the early 1990s. He says extreme weather events are driving more people to flee their homes, leading to more hunger.

He told VOA the situation will get much worse as global temperatures rise.

“We are projecting that with a two-degree warmer world, we will have around 189 million people in a status of food insecurity more than today. And, if it is a four-degrees warmer world, which is possible if no action is taken, we are looking beyond one billion more. So, there is a very, very strong argument for early and decisive climate action,” said Laganda.

World Hunger, WFP
Faduma Hussein Yagoub, a polio sufferer, came with her family to Dadaab from Somalia. Her husband and two of her five young children died of hunger on the way. Despite the dangers thousands of refugees every week are making the journey, walking for weeks across the desert and braving attacks by armed robbers and wild animals:

Data from this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by six leading U.N. agencies show the bulk of losses and damages in food systems are due to drought and most of these disastrous events occur in Africa.

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Laganda says the number of people suffering from hunger because of climate change-induced drought is rising particularly in Africa and Latin America. He notes that until recently progress in Asia had led to a reduction in world hunger, but that trend has slowed markedly. (VOA)

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