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Prohibiting use of E-Cigarettes to Consumers will be Huge Mistake: Experts

The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties that has brought together the WHO FCTC's 180 Parties is being held in Greater Noida from November 7-12

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E-cigarette, Pixabay

New Delhi, November 11, 2016:  With the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) bringing together delegates from almost every country across the world to India, a team of international experts has warned that any attempt to limit the choice of e-cigarettes to consumers would be a huge mistake and do untold harm to millions of smokers.

“Much of the campaign against e-cigarettes has been driven by emotion and ideology, not evidence,” said Riccardo Polosa, Director of the Institute for Internal and Emergency Medicine at University of Catania in Italy.

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Several studies have, in fact, shown that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), of which e-cigarettes are the most common prototype, can help smokers quit and they are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes, according to the experts.

“In reality, no one is dying from this product,” Polosa said.

The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties that has brought together the WHO FCTC’s 180 Parties is being held in Greater Noida from November 7-12.

“There are widespread rumours in social media that delegations of countries with little or no experience on the topic are driving an agenda to prohibit ENDS,” Polosa and his colleagues said in a statement.

“Such a course of action would be a huge mistake and do untold harm to millions of smokers. We hope these rumours are untrue and do not reflect the current climate and the real intentions of WHO COP7 delegates. ENDS represent the greatest opportunity in generations to prevent and reduce the harm of smoking,” the statement added.

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Julian Morris, Vice President of Research at US-based non-profit Reason Foundation, emphasised that smokers need to have wide range of harm-reduction choices.

Konstantinos Farsalinos, a research fellow at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, Greece, and Christopher Russell, a behavioural psychologist and senior research fellow at the Centre for Substance Use Research, Glasgow, Scotland were other signatories of the statement.

“Many states in India have banned the use of e-cigarettes without any evidence on their adverse effects,” Morris, who co-authored the paper “The Vapour Revolution: How Bottom Up Innovation is Saving Lives” with economist Amir Ullah Khan, noted.

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“In India, there is hardly any data on the extent of e-cigarette use. How is it possible to assess the impact of the product without any local data and surveillance?” Morris asked.

Experts who have assessed vapour produced by heating e-liquids in a vape device have found that it contains only a tiny fraction of the number of chemicals in tobacco smoke — and most of those chemicals are harmless, Morris and Khan noted in the paper.

Although not binding, the World Health Organisation and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control exert considerable influence on domestic policies towards tobacco in many countries, and therefore the conference should include all stakeholders to encourage detailed deliberation and transparent decision-making, the experts pointed out. (IANS)

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This Tiny Cell is Good News for Cancer Survivors

This approach to fertility restoration is safe," says Bhartiya pointing out to earlier studies carried out in her laboratory in mice which had shown that this method restored the role of non-functional ovaries and resulted in the birth of fertile offsprings

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

A scientist at the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) in Mumbai — an institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — says a new type of stem cell identified by her team can help restore fertility in men and women who have undergone treatment for cancer.

Cancer treatment, or “oncotherapy”, that involves use of radiation and chemicals, renders patients infertile as an unwanted side effect and, while cured of cancer, they cannot beget children.

Though women are born with a lifetime reserve of “oocytes” ( immature eggs), these are wiped out by oncotherapy. In males, the testes responsible for the production of sperms, stop making them following cancer treatment.

Currently accepted approaches for fertility preservation require male patients to deposit their sperm in “cryo-banks” before beginning cancer treatment for later use. Similarly women, wanting to have children, must have their eggs or embryos “cryopreserved” for use after oncotherapy.

“Such approaches are invasive, expensive, technically challenging and depend on assisted reproductive technologies,” reports NIRRH cell biologist Deepa Bhartiya in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the flagship journal of ICMR.

According to the report, there is now a way out. Bhartiya says research by her team over the years led to identification of a novel population of “Very Small Embryonic-Like stem cells (VSELs)”, in testis (in males) and ovaries (in females).

Being “quiescent” by nature, these primitive stem cells (VSELs) survive cancer therapy and therefore can offer young cancer survivors options to have children without having to bank their sperms or embryos prior to oncotherapy, says the report.

“The VSELs have remained elusive over decades due to their small size and presence in very few numbers,” says Bhartiya.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

The discovery of these unique VSELs (in testes and ovaries) that do not succumb to oncotherapy “opens up an alternative strategy to regenerate non-functional gonads and ovaries in cancer survivors”, says Bhartiya.

While VSELs survive cancer treatment, their original “habitat” (or niche) however gets destroyed by oncotherapy. To make the VSELs functional, their “niche” should be re-created by transplanting “mesenchymal cells” — another type of stem cells taken from the bone marrow — into the testes, says the report.

A simple and direct transplantation of “mesenchymal cells in the non-functional gonads may suffice to regenerate them,” says Bhartiya. “Similarly, transplantation of “ovarian surface epithelial cells” may allow the VSELs to regenerate nonfunctional ovaries.”

“This approach to fertility restoration is safe,” says Bhartiya pointing out to earlier studies carried out in her laboratory in mice which had shown that this method restored the role of non-functional ovaries and resulted in the birth of fertile offsprings.

“Our group also successfully restored spermatogenesis (sperm production) in non-functional mouse testis by transplanting niche (mesenchymal) cells, into the testis,” Bhartiya said.

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In the light of these findings, she says the field of oncofertility may undergo a sea-change and existing strategies of cryopreservation of gametes and gonadal tissue for fertility preservation in cancer patients will have to be revised. “Pilot clinical studies (in humans) need to be undertaken.”

“VSELs may be an alternative cell source for induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) clls,” Balu Manohar, managing director of Stempeutics Research, a Bengaluru-based stem cell company told this correspondent. “But it is still far away from the clinic as isolation and large scale expansion of these cells has to be standardised.” (IANS)