Nearly seven years after acknowledging the need to regulate stem cell research and therapy, the central government has started the process of constituting a national committee for this purpose.
Clinics that offer stem cell treatment will have to register with a National Apex Committee (NAC). They will be required to submit the details of every patient and provide updates of the treatment’s effect at regular intervals after completion.
The decision was announced at the country’s first public consultation meeting to frame guidelines for stem cell research and therapy held in Mumbai on Saturday. “The registry will help us keep a check on clinics and doctors who claim to cure various conditions with stem cells though there is not enough evidence yet,” said Dr Geeta Jotwani from the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The ICMR and the Department of Biotechnology started framing guidelines for stem cell therapy in 2003. The need for a high-level committee to regulate stem cell therapy was clearly spelled out when the guidelines were published in 2007. But it took the government three years to act on it.
The NAC will be a multidisciplinary body with a secretariat. It will set standards for procedures and examine the scientific, ethical, legal and social issues in stem cell research and therapy.