Stem cells derived from embryonic cells, adult cells and umbilical cord blood have the properties of self-renewal and potency, making them a huge key to bio-medical advancement. In the past decade, many countries from Europe, Asia and America have collaborated to expand the scope of stem cell research, leading to rapid advances in medical applications.
In many countries, the government still doesn’t allow clinical trials in certain areas of bio-medicine, limiting the scope of research. The policy largely differs from country to country, and in some places the policies are still being developed to support all types of stem cell research.
Research around the World
Here’s a look at the current scenario of cord blood research across the world:
- In July 2014, Researchers at John Hopkins Medical Hospital cultivated a three-dimensional complement of the retina, which contains photoreceptor cells that respond to light. Although the project is still at an early stage, it promises clinically grown retinal replacements.
- In June 2014, a team from Duke University, USA started clinical trials to explore the use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood as treatment for autism. The trials will involve injecting a dose of the child’s own cord blood, collected and preserved at birth.
- In Japan, scientists have discovered that human skin cells can be reprogrammed to act like embryonic stem cells. The research started in November 2007 and is still ongoing. It is believed that this study will quell the debate over the destruction of embryos for the purposes of drawing embryonic stem cells.
- Singapore is called ‘Asia’s stem cell center,’ boasting 40 research centers dedicated to bio-medical research using embryos that are not more than two weeks old. Also, clinical trials involving umbilical cord blood are being conducted for many ailments. Such research and trials have not as yet been authorized in many countries.
- Countries such as India, China, South Korea, Israel, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Germany actively conduct research on therapeutic cloning. Clinical trials are also being conducted for treating terminally ill patients using embryonic stem cell therapy.
- In 2002, the research on stem cells crossed earthly limitations with experiments that where designed by South African researchers. Research and experiments were and are still being conducted in the international space station to study the development of stem cells in zero-gravity.
Stem cell research using adult cells, embryonic cells and especially umbilical cord blood, has given hope around the world for people suffering from heart diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, spinal cord injuries, and retinal diseases. It would definitely take a couple of years to establish them as safe treatments, but there is hope none the less.