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Maharashtra to have stem cell-based treatment soon

July 09, 2005 14:24 IST

US-based Histostem has inked a deal with the Maharashtra government for setting up national (umbilical) cord banking (NCB) centre in Mumbai.

Three more centres would be set up in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.

These centres will offer the latest stem cell-based medical treatment in India at affordable rates.

Mike Shen, chief executive officer, Histostem, said: "In Maharashtra we plan to invest $ 20 million over the next three years. We intend to offer medical facilities using stem cell technology for spinal cord injuries, brain strokes, diabetes and bone cancer at much lower costs. In fact Union government of India also plans to announce a policy on stem cell technology so that the lowest cost medical facility can be developed in the country."

Shen clarified that the sourcing of stem cells necessary to conduct research into stem cell therapy had been a subject of substantial controversy globally: "The stem cells we will utilise are not embryonic cells, discarded (umblical) cord blood. We intend to secure resources for our medical practices form what is considered biological waste."

Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said: "We have offered Histostem the same facilities and incentives that are on offer in Maharashtra for any other biotechnology initiative. It will usher in the latest technology available to medical science at affordable prices while also creating employment opportunities."

The facility will also give rise to the need for trained specialists in the field of stem cell research as well as practice. Experts from the field will also be brought in from abroad.

Negotiations are also on between the US based company and the Union government for inking a deal that will allow the company to establish and operate an Indian National Cord Blood and Stem Cell Bank. The Union government is believed to be on the verge of announcing a policy on stem cell research in the country that is expected to be made in September.

On the investment plans for the Mumbai stem cell hub, industries secretary V K Jairath said: "The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) will have an equity partnership with Histostem for the project. As far as the incentives being offered for the   project is concerned these are the same announced under the government policy and include stamp duty concessions, subsidised land rates and additional floor space index."

Histostem had on Wednesday inked another deal with the New Delhi-based Apollo Hospitals. Under that agreement both have accorded each other a 'most preferred partner' status and will jointly develop new therapies and solutions through clinical trials using umbilical cord stem cells.

Apollo Hospital has agreed to provide local support such as facilities as assistance in acquisition of umbilical cord blood in order to establish the stem cell treatment centres using Histostem's technologies and protocols.

Shen said that his firm had also set up a $80 million stem cell therapy centre in Korea, where over 50,000 people had donated cord blood needed for the therapy.

BS Regional Bureau in Mumbai
Source: source