Transcomm May– 2017

Stem cells: Mankind’s answer to Prometheus’ vulture

Prometheus is a Titan in Greek Mythology, best known as the creator of mankind and it’s greatest benefactor. He transgressed the law of gods and stole fire from Mount Olympus for the sake of humankind, for which he received a brutal punishment from Jupiter. Jupiter had him chained to mount Caucasus, where a vulture would prey on his liver daily. Legend has it that his liver renewed as quickly as it was devoured, which captures the body’s remarkable regenerative capacity. Although humans possess natural regenerative capacities albeit at a much lower level, it is still a fascinating phenomenon. But the fact that not every organ in the human body can be regenerated at will is what sets us apart from the Titans in Greek Mythology. But recent advances in the field of regenerative medicine with stem cells has challenged the concept of organ-specific regeneration. This has been realized by discoveries wherein multipotent/pluripotent cells hereby referred to as stem cells have been isolated from many tissues of the body, even from some, such as the nervous system, that have historically been considered incapable of regeneration. While the astonishing pluripotent characteristics of embryonic stem cells has generated much interest in the scientific community, the field has received considerable backlash due to various ethical concerns. This is exactly when researchers intensified their efforts in identifying similar cell lineages in the adult that may contribute to self-renewal. Various reports generated on the versatility, plasticity and the self-renewing capacity of adult stem cells have made them a subject of immense interest in the scientific and general community alike. Harnessing the power of adult stem cells for the repair and general replacement of damaged tissue is fast becoming a reality. The use of stem cells to repair damage to eyes (Macular degeneration) or to replace skin that has been subject to severe burns is already underway. The use of stem cells to restore bone marrow in cancer patients undergoing chemo and radiotherapies is also widespread in use. The extensive usage of stem cells in regenerative/reparative treatments is an ever evolving phenomenon and everyone should realize and appreciate the power of stem cells. All the stakeholders here at Transcell strongly believe in the power of these super cells and constantly strive towards educating the general public about the same.

A 20 year old patient suffering from Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy who had intense muscle weakness and had difficulty in performing his activities was treated with autologous BMMNC transplantation The BMMNCs were transplanted via intrathecal and intramuscular routes. Over 9 months post transplantation improvement in muscle strength, respiratory functions was observed. Suggesting that stem cell therapy combined with rehabilitation has the possibility regenerating muscle fibers and decreasing the rate of progression of BMD.

Another group was able to successfully transplant iPSC induced pluripotent stem cells. These cells were derived from skin fibroblast which were transformed into a sheet of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. This sheet was transplanted into a patient with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. The transplantation has ensured no further degeneration and retained visibility of the patient.

Periodontitis a condition by which tooth-supporting structures are progressively destroyed and this disease is leading reason behind tooth loss in adults. Autologous periodontal ligament stem cells (PDLSCs) along with grafting materials was used for guided tissue regeneration (GTR) to treat periodontal intrabony. The study showed an increase in the alveolar bone height and decrease in the bone-defect depth.

Mesenchymal stem cells were used as a therapeutic option for knee osteoarthritis.  BM-MSCs: Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells in combination with hyaluronic acid was used for the treatment. Post transplantation here there was an evident improvement observed. The patients had improved motion range; the damage in the joint had decreased.

In another recent study patients with chronic stroke underwent surgical transplantation of modified bone marrow – derived mesenchymal stem (BMMSC), a significant improvement was documented in all the patients; all the patients showed an improvement at the standard Stroke Scale, a substantial increase from the baseline with reduction in disease severity, thus confirming the regenerative capabilities of the transplanted cells.

Transcomm April – 2017

Stem cells: The hope and the hype
Everyone irrespective of their background seems to be talking about stem cells these days. Stem cells have garnered much attention because they can turn into all different types of cells and that too on demand. While the implications for the use of stem cells in medicine are profound, there are still a lot of practical barriers that need to be streamlined for realizing the full potential of stem cells as therapeutic tools. The current issue of Transcomm is dedicated to making sure the reader realizes the true potential of stem cells i.e what they can actually do and what they cannot. Our goal here at Transcell is to educate the general public about the significance of storing their loved ones’ stem cells which could come handy in the future when the donor or the related family develops a life threatening disease for which stem cells are the only treatment options. Often times, the term stem cells is used out of context and like any other novel treatment modality, the promise of curing any disease using stem cells should be taken with a pinch of salt. We will look into the history of stem cells, where and when it all started before we touch upon various case studies and novel treatment methods that have been made possible thanks to the advent of stem cells.

The Russian histologist Alexander Maksimov is credited with coining the term “stem cell” in 1908. Back then, the mere idea of self- renewing cells existing inside the body offered a ray of hope for many patients and researchers alike. Only after the Second World War were scientists able to trace the lineage of a particular cell using radioactive markers which helped noted scientists like Altman, McCulloch and Till to observe and document the presence of self-renewing cells in animal models. Since then, much of the research on so-called self- renewing cells/stem cells has been carried out mainly in mouse and primate models. The fascinating properties of stem cells, such as the ability to self-renew unlimitedly together with asymmetric division and plasticity have heralded the dawn of a new era of regenerative medicine. New treatment modalities using stem cells (stem cell therapy) while offering a very cost effective therapeutic approach also help tackle some rather debilitating diseases where in conventional treatments have failed to deliver. For example cell-replacement therapies using stem cells have been gaining importance in the field of Diabetes, wherein insulin-producing cells could be generated from stem cells which could then be grafted into the pancreas of the patient. Similarly, research on adult mouse brains has shown that certain brain disorders characterized by the loss of neurons (Parkinson’s etc) could be corrected by grafting stem cells into developing brains which would then differentiate into neurons and restore the normal functioning of the brain. The two examples mentioned above are just a tip of the iceberg. The list of uses of stem cells in regenerative/reparative medicine could be exhaustive. After reading this particular edition of Transcomm, we hope that the reader would agree with us that the hype surrounding stem cells is in fact true and that the hopes of treating various fatal, non-fatal and emerging diseases is possible using stem cells.

India tops in development of stem cell treatment, also it can be a pathbreaking therapy for diabetes, Autism

Researchers and experts believe India has been rapidly making strides in the field of stem cell therapy followed by countries like China and Japan. The lack of awareness that stem cells could be used for treating various incurable diseases has been hampering its growth as an alternative treatment modality. Diabetes and Autism, two of the major issues plaguing India could be tackled with the usage of stem cells. Using a patient’s own stem cells (autologous transplant), new Beta cells could be generated in the pancreas. This type of transplantation is also free of any complications that might arise due to graft rejection. Umbilical cord tissue derived stem cells are considered to be ideal for treating Autism. Currently clinical trials are underway to treat Autism using umbilical cord tissue stem cells. The advantage of using umbilical cord tissue derived stem cells is that the collection of stem cells is not as laborious as collecting adult stem cells and moreover, the stem cells collected right after birth are more potent than their adult counterparts.


Skin stem cells used to generate new brain cells Study to advance understanding of the role of microglia in Alzheimer’s disease
April 25, 2017
Source: University of California – Irvine
Summary: Using human skin cells, neurobiologists have created a method to generate one of the principle cell types of the brain called microglia, which play a key role in preserving the function of neural networks and responding to injury and disease

Using skin cells derived from a patient, neurobiologists at the University of California, Irvine have managed to generate one of the major types of brain cells called Microglia. Microglia play a pivotal role in preserving the function of neural networks while also playing an important role in injury and disease. The group led by EdselAbud, Wayne Poon and Mathew Blurton Jones of UCI have used a series of differentiation factors that helped the stem cells derived from skin to transdifferentiate into Microglial cells. Recent studies on Microglia have implicated their role in Alzheimer’s. The current research would help unravel the connection between Microglia and Alzheimer’s and would also lead to better drug development.

New stem cell invented that can grow into any tissue in the body, study finds

Researchers from China and the Salk institute have successfully created a new kind of stem cell, which is more versatile than the ones that are available now. The new cell named Extended Pluripotent Stem cell (EPS) can give rise to every cell in the body, researchers claim. The EPS cell not only can give rise to every cell in an embryo and adult organism, but also can make the placenta and other extra-embryonic tissues needed for the embryo to survive and grow. This ability enables the new type of stem cell to produce complete embryos and offspring, the scientists said. This research would enable researchers create transgenic animal models for analyzing various diseases with ease. Moreover, chimeras could also be developed with human cells for cultivating organs in the lab which could eventually be transplanted back into patients with organ failure.

A research team at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden has managed to create cartilage tissue from stem cells using a 3D printer. The fact that stem cells survived the printing is seen as a major success in itself and could potentially serve as an important step in the quest to 3D-print body parts.The research team used cartilage cells taken from humans in connection with knee surgery. Subsequently, the cells were reversed in their development under lab conditions to become so-called pluripotent stem cells, which are cells that have the potential to develop into any kind of cells. Later, they were enclosed in a structure of nanocellulose using a 3D printer. After printing, the cells were treated with growth factors to form cartilage.On top of being a major technological achievement, the study represents a major step forward for the artificial creation of human tissue using stem cells and 3D bioprinting. In the not-too-distant future, 3D printers could be used for repairing cartilage damage or as a treatment for osteoarthritis, which causes the degeneration of joints.


Japanese man is first to receive ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells from another person

World-first transplant, used to treat macular degeneration, represents a major step forward in movement to create banks of ready-made stem cells.

David Cyranoski 28 March 2017

On 28 March 2017, a Japanese man in his 60s became the first person to receive cells derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells donated by another person. The surgery is expected to set the path for more applications of iPS-cell technology, which offers the versatility of embryonic stem cells without their ethical taint. Banks of iPS cells from diverse donors could make stem-cell transplants more convenient to perform, while slashing costs. IPS cells are created by removing mature cells from an individual (for example, from their skin) and reprogramming these cells back to an embryonic state. They can then be coaxed into a type of cell useful for treating a disease.In the latest procedure, performed on a man from the Hyogo prefecture of Japan, skin cells from an anonymous donor were reprogrammed into iPS cells and then turned into a type of retinal cell, which was in turn transplanted onto the retina of the patient, who has age-related macular degeneration. Physicians hope that the cells will stop the progression of the disease, which can lead to blindness.



Pennsylvania state trooper Matt Uram was talking with his wife at a July Fourth party in 2009 when a misjudged spray of gasoline burst through a nearby bonfire and set him alight. Flames covered the entire right side of his body, and after he fell to the ground to smother them, his wife beat his head with her bare hands to put out his burning hair.From the hospital, Uram was transferred to the Mercy Burn Center in Pittsburgh, where doctors removed all of the burned skin and dressed his wounds. It was on the border between a second- and third-degree burn, and he was told to prepare for months of pain and permanent disfigurement. Not long after this assessment, however, a doctor asked Uram if he would be willing to take part in an experimental trial of a new device.The treatment, developed by German researcher Dr. JörgGerlach, was the world’s first to use a patient’s stem cells to directly heal the skin. If successful, the device would mend Uram’s wounds using his body’s ability to regenerate fully functioning skin. Uram agreed to the procedure without hesitation.Five days after the accident, surgeons removed a small section of undamaged skin from Uram’s right thigh—about the size of a postage stamp—and used it to create a liquid suspension of his stem cells that was sprayed in a fine mist onto the damaged skin. Three days later, when it was time to remove the bandages and re-dress the wounds, his doctor was amazed by what he saw. The burns were almost completely healed, and any risk of infection or scarring was gone.

SuperStartUps India Announces its First Ever Awards

The Awards recognise the most promising start-up brands that are set to boost the economy of the country

SuperStartUps India, a platform to recognise the innovation and efforts of the start-ups in the country, today announced its first ever list of winners. A venture from the house of Superbrands, the coveted multinational brand endorser, recognised 32 brands from across sectors for their vision and contribution to this growing industry.


The winners include Melora, Monexo, Transcell, Prop Tiger, Canvs, Cloudacar, Clayplay, Imithila, Vaayu India, Medisponsor, Innov8, ExtraCarbon, Zivame, Licious, Rentickle, Milkbasket, Khanagadi, Drivify, IndusOS, Rxpress, Housejoy, Sheroes, Schoolwear, Squareyards, Orahi, Byjus, World Art Community, Faircent, Dogsee Chew, Parentune, Bluestone and Shopclues.

With the growing trend of creating a start-up instead of taking the traditional route has swept India away in recent times. Government incentives and an influx of capital from abroad have made it increasingly attractive to take that big leap of faith. Taking accord of this tectonic shift in Indian business culture, SuperStartUps was designed to heap acclaim on all the start-ups spending night and day trying to make the next ubiquitous, innovative offering.

Shivjeet Kullar, Head of SuperStartUps awards said, “India is fast rising as the start-up destination in the world. With the rapid expansion of the start-up culture in the country, it becomes imperative to identify and acknowledge the brands who not just have taken the offbeat route but are continuing to chase their destination differently.”

“The winners have been chosen by the netizens of India and we hope and wish that the tag of being a SuperBrand winner will help them grow further,” he added.

Not only was the programme unique since its inception – it was also totally impartial. The winning SuperStartUps were not decided by any panel of judges but by the citizens or rather netizens of India. Across 15 metros and smaller cities from all parts of India constituted a confidential panel of thousands of ‘voters’ that chose the online brands they prefer.

Chosen out of a vast pool of 2000 applications, the winning start-ups will be free to avail all associated facilities like profiling of the firm in the annual SuperStartUps book and to be able to use the ‘Superbrand’ status for a year in all its communications. A badge of honour for the creme de la creme of the start-up world, the award has rolled out first in India – currently the ‘startup capital of the world’.

The monitoring council of the project included Dar and Adman Prahlad Kakkar, Valerie Pinto, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Weber Shandwick; Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Founder of Info Edge, and Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip.

About SuperStartUps

SuperStartUps started with a vision of providing something of incredible value to its winners that sets itself apart from other start-up competitions – a start-up competition chosen by the netizens of India. At the end of the day, the success of a start-up depends on how resonant its product is among the masses. With this, SuperStartUps decided to undertake an extensive research process encompassing 4 months and 22 Indian cities to ascertain which start-ups were making the most buzz.

Finally, from over 6000 eligible start-ups, India’s next big start-ups were selected. Being a SuperStartUp provides its winners the ultimate validation – how the public is reacting to their idea. Accompanied by a research report, they get a holistic understanding of what aspects of their business are working and what needs to be tweaked to provide a product that is universally lauded. Furthermore, they get access to the who’s who of the investor world to secure funding for expanding their operations.

Lastly, they get the stamp of being the first SuperStartUps by Superbrands – an organization that has successfully provided a differentiating factor for all the companies it has honored in its 15-year stint in India.
Media Contact:
Shreya Mehta
Weber Shandwick



Transcomm March – 2017

Medically Approved Regenerative Treatments Using Dental Stem Cells

Teeth, which happen to be the most natural and noninvasive source of stem cells owing to their convenience and affordability to collect hold promise for a range of difficult to treat  medical indications. The regenerative capacity of dental pulp derived stem cells has been a topic of utmost interest to clinicians and researchers alike in the field of regenerative medicine. The story of dental stem cells dates back to 2003, when Dr. Songtao Shi, a pedodontist discovered baby tooth stem cells in the deciduous teeth of his six year old daughter and named the cells as stem cells from the human exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHED). Dental Pulp Stem Cells or DPSCs as they are commonly referred to, are found within the ‘‘cell rich zone’’ of the dental pulp. Their multipotent nature can be attributed to their origin from the neural crest. Owing to their multipotent nature, these DPSCs can effectively differentiate into many cell types which include adipocytes, neurons, chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells under specific stimuli. Since they can be found in both adults and children alike, their use in regenerative and patient specific treatment of certain ailments has been gaining rapid momentum. One of the major advantages of DPSCs over  umbilical cord/blood stem cells is that the dental stem cells are derived from the deciduous and permanent teeth (wisdom/corrective) and can be collected later after birth unlike their umbilical cord counterparts. Collection of teeth for dental pulp and isolation of stem cells from the pulp can be carried out without raising any ethical red flags as the procedure is very simple/non-invasive without any associated mortality or morbidity. Recent advances in the field of dental stem cell clinical research have made it possible to employ them in reparative and regenerative roles. This newsletter is an effort to bring to the reader’s attention some of major advancements in the “close to reality of DPSCs in clinics”. We hope the reader while appreciating the significance of DPSCs would strongly consider storing their loved ones’ about to fall milk teeth derived stem cells even if the loved ones Cord/blood were banked as the medically approved applications are different for different sources.

Anand Ram Soorneedi
Process Scientist
Transcell Biologics  

TOOTH (The Open study Of dental pulp stem cell Therapy in Humans): Study protocol for evaluating safety and feasibility of autologous human adult dental pulp stem cell therapy in patients with chronic disability after stroke

Stroke represents a significant global disease burden. As of 2015, there is no chemical or biological therapy proven to actively enhance neurological recovery during the chronic phase post-stroke. Human adult dental pulp stem cells present an exciting potential therapeutic option for improving post-stroke disability. TOOTH (The Open study Of dental pulp stem cell Therapy in Humans) will investigate the use of autologous stem cell therapy for stroke survivors with chronic disability, with the following objectives: (a) determine the maximum tolerable dose of autologous dental pulp stem cell therapy; (b) define that dental pulp stem cell therapy at the maximum tolerable dose is safe and feasible in chronic stroke; and (c) estimate the parameters of efficacy required to design a future Phase 2/3 clinical trial. The primary outcomes to be measured are safety and feasibility of intracranial administration of autologous human adult DPSC in patients with chronic stroke and determination of the maximum tolerable dose in human subjects. Secondary outcomes include estimation of the measures of effectiveness required to design a future Phase 2/3 clinical trial.

Human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) as treatment for periodontal disease

ISRCTN12831118 DOI 10.1186/ISRCTN12831118

 Periodontitis, or periodontal disease (PD) is a very common chronic gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone supporting the teeth. It can lead to tooth loss, difficulties chewing, poor appearance of teeth and gums and it can even increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It is caused by the build-up of bacteria in the mouth which, over time, combines with saliva and small food particles to form a sticky film over the teeth, called plaque. The bacteria in the plaque can result in gum disease, leading to swollen, painful gums. If not treated, this gum disease will get worse and will develop into periodontitis. Up to 90% of people over the age of 75 have PD and it carries with it a high risk of other health complications. Current treatments are not very effective. Experimental and clinical data suggest that human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) are capable of regenerating periodontal structures (soft tissues and bone supporting the teeth) regardless of their autologous (coming from the person themselves) or allogeneic origin (coming from a donor). This study is looking at the effect of in situ treatment with hDPSCs on periodontal disease, markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in aging adults.

Feasibility of the Preparation of an Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product for Dental Pulp Regeneration (Pulp’R) Identifier: NCT02842515

Current endodontic treatments are based essentially on the ouster of parenchyma in case of trauma or irreversible pulp inflammation. These situations typically affect immature teeth in subjects aged from 8 to 15 years. Consequently, loss of a functional pulp is leads to discontinuation of root development and apical closure. The challenge for the clinician in the management of such situations is then preserving a pulp vitality. But current practices consist in a filling of the endo-canal system with an inert or semi-inert material. In this case, no pulp vitality is present. New treatment methods are needed. The objective Pulp’R is the study the feasibility of preparing an autologous combined advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) for dental pulp regeneration in the patient with irreversible pulp inflammation or dental trauma.

Periodontal Regeneration of Chronic Periodontal Disease Patients Receiving Stem Cells Injection Therapy Identifier:NCT02523651

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the safety of clinical injection of allogeneic human dental pulp stem cell (DPSC) in local infected periodontal tissue and determine whether injection of allogeneic DPSC is a effective way in the treatment of chronic periodontal disease.

Transcomm February – 2017

3D printing has been touted as one of the most disruptive technologies that have been making waves during the 21st century. Despite some initial negative press about the technology, it has been quickly catching up generating a lot of buzz in the industry and general public alike. 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing wherein three dimensional solid objects are produced by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. The ease of access to 3D templates, scanners, modeling software and printers that can print 3D objects has made our lives much easier.
From printing daily objects like furniture to complicated structures such as airplane and space shuttle parts, this rather exciting new technology slowly started becoming an integral part of our lives. According to Wohlers Report 2014, the worldwide 3D printing industry is now expected to grow from $3.07B in revenue in 2013 to $12.8B by 2018, and exceed $21B in worldwide revenue by 2020. The healthcare industry has quickly realized the full potential of this technology and researchers and clinicians are taking steps towards harnessing the power of 3D printing in improving the quality of human life. In the field of healthcare, 3D printing can be used in developing prosthetics, dental and bone implants, medical instruments, tissue and simple printed organs that can be used in transplants, pharmaceuticals production, nano-scale medicine and also in the printing of complex organs. As we are already aware of the Stem cells’ unique ability to produce both copies of themselves (self-renewal) and other more specialized cell types (differentiation) every time they divide, it would be exciting to see the marriage of stem cell therapy with 3D printing technology.
This newsletter is an effort to educate the reader about the potential applications of 3D printing technology using stem cells.
I am confident that the reader while appreciating the technological marvel that is 3D printing technology would also realize the potential of applying this technology in stem cell based regenerative therapies.

Nano Dimension Announces New 3D Bioprinting Subsidiary to Develop
Solutions fo rend Stage Renal Disease

Israel-based company Nano Dimension has a new announcement: the 3D printed electronics leader is creating a new subsidiary in order to advance its new 3D bioprinting initiative. In early 2016, the company partnered with Accelta, a stem cell culturing solutions provider, to successfully lab-test a proof of concept 3D bioprinter for producing stem cell-derived tissues.
Nano Dimension has been conducting market research into applications of its 3D bioprinting technology, and says that it will now be developing a platform to 3D bioprint both connective tissues and cells, which will be used to create biological structures that will function as human kidneys. The subsidiary will focus mainly on developing solutions for end stage renal diseases (ESRD) which ultimately lead to kidney failure.

3D bioprinted myocardial path could boost heart attack recover,
Korean Researchers say

A team of researchers in Korea has used a 3D bioprinter to make a myocardial therapeutic patch for treating ischemic heart disease. When attached to the heart, the 3D printed patch can generate new blood vessels and tissues. Professor Park Hoon-joon of the Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital and professor Jo Dong-woo of the Pohang University of Science & Technology, two of the lead researchers on the exciting bioprinting study, announced the results of their research on February 9, claiming that their 3D printed myocardial patch could radically change the way doctors approach the treatment of ischemia, a condition that results in low blood supply to the heart muscles or other organs.

To create the 3D printed heart patch, the researchers used cardiac extracellular matrices as a 3D printable bioink, with cardiac stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells configured in a double-cell arrangement. A vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a signal protein that stimulates vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, was also introduced. The researchers say that this complex arrangement could hold the key to recovery from ischemic heart disease—at present, the five-year survival rate for patients is less than 50 percent.

Soon Printing a human heart on demand will no longer be sci-fi

Around the world, start-ups — like Tokyo-based Cyfuse Biomedical — are emerging to develop such breakthroughs in the field of regenerative medicine. It is a market projected to reach $101.3 billion by 2022.
Unlike conventional medicines and treatments, regenerative medicines have the ability to restore or heal the body’s own cells or create new body parts from a patient’s own cells and tissues, thereby eliminating tissue rejection and the excessively long wait for a donor organ.  This would be a remarkable scientific achievement, considering that in the United States alone 118,950 people are registered in the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network. Of these candidates, 22 die each day waiting for a lifesaving organ. The gap between supply and demand continues to widen, and it’s a problem many medical experts have called a major health crisis. Cyfuse has also started a clinical trial of a cartilage project, transplanting its stem cell construct into damaged articular cartilage that will gradually differentiate into cartilage and bone and regenerate the tissue.  Cyfuse is one of a growing number of tech start-ups trying to get a toehold in the global marketplace. The sector is blossoming due to innovations in stem cell therapy and tissue engineering. North America accounted for nearly 50 percent of revenue share of global market revenues for regenerative medicines in 2016. Europe is second, at US$24 billion, with Germany leading the region.

A new bio-ink for 3D printing with stem cell

Scientists at the University of Bristol have developed a new kind of bio-ink, which could eventually allow the production of complex tissues for surgical implants. The new stem cell-containing bio ink allows 3D printing of living tissue, known as bio-printing. The new bio-ink contains two different polymer components: a natural polymer extracted from seaweed, and a sacrificial synthetic polymer used in the medical industry, and both had a role to play. The synthetic polymer causes the bio-ink to change from liquid to solid when the temperature is raised, and the seaweed polymer provides structural support when the cell nutrients are introduced. The team was able to differentiate the stem cells into osteoblasts – a cell that secretes the substance of bone – and chondrocytes – cells that have secreted the matrix of cartilage and become embedded in it – to engineer 3D printed tissue structures over five weeks, including a full-size tracheal cartilage ring.

Scientists from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), CIEMAT (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research), Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, in collaboration with the firm BioDan Group, have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin. This skin is adequate for transplanting to patients or for use in research or the testing of cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products.
This new human skin is one of the first living human organs created using bioprinting to be introduced to the marketplace. It replicates the natural structure of the skin, with a first external layer, the epidermis with its stratum corneum, which acts as protection against the external environment, together with another thicker, deeper layer, the dermis. This last layer consists of fibroblasts that produce collagen, the protein that gives elasticity and mechanical strength to the skin.

Transcomm January – 2017

Stem Cells for Muscular Dystrophies

An orphan disease is a rare disease (according to US criteria, a disease that affects fewer than 200,000 people) or a common disease that has been ignored. But, the true definition not known by many is that a disease category that has not been taken up by any pharmaceutical industry to research on as it provides little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market medicines to treat or cure. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is one such category in India that is totally not recognized by any healthcare schemes or research initiatives or NGOs or clinicians communities, worth a consideration for offering solace/treatment options to the suffering society. First visit to the doctor by the worried family is usually directed to a Neuro-physician, who would categorically declare that the affected kid will die soon and so medically advised to go home! Such is the level of compassion or practice or medical knowledge in the society that we are in.

Despite the urgent need for research in Orphan diseases, also requires a multidisciplinary  personalized approach like a community with participating, practicing Scientists, Clinicians and Parents of the affected kids in order to find innovative medical solutions gathering the expertise into centers of expertise.

Trying to get the facts, it is probable that Orphan diseases will never benefit from a specific drug or any available therapy, need for alternative research lines like Stem cells repairing the continuously degenerating muscles, inflammation associated is the only hope for this disease to be pursued. But, disruptive research has to happen translating into clinical application as patients can’t wait! For once if the investor community believes in scientific breakthroughs alleviating the human suffering as their ROI, it is Paradisso for human kind!

Here, I remain heavy with suffering patients in my thoughts!

January 2017 Transcomm highlights the Orphan disease DMD and possibilities with Stem cells to address the debilitating medical condition. Any application or research with stem cells is possible only if they were captured at the right event and stored in right condition.

So, Dear Readers, Please encourage, educate and evangelize your families, extended families, friends to store stem cells now!

S Dravida Transcell’s CEO

A study conducted by the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ICSR), states that 70 million Indians suffer from life threatening rare diseases. Although we have made immense progress in science and medicine, there is little that is known of the rare diseases prevalent in India, and a paucity of affordable therapy available for these diseases. Children form a part of nearly 50% of the population affected by these diseases, and only 30% of these children, live till the age of five.

Muscular dystrophy is one such rare genetic disorder that affects several in India. An X linked recessive disorder, this disease affects more males than females. While in most developed nations, MD patients survive till the age of 20-23, lack of awareness of this disorder in India has led to most MD children dying at the age of 13-17.

A neuromuscular disorder, which causes degeneration of a set of muscle cells, Muscular Dystrophy starts by destroying the skeletal muscle first, and then progressively deteriorates the internal organs as well. Of the several types of MD, Duchenne MD is the most common. It is caused by a mutation in the DMD gene. Several stem cell therapies have been proposed for DMD.

A loss-of-function mutation in the dystrophin gene, leads to DMD. In a study conducted by Dumont et al (2015), it was found that dystrophin association with a regulator of cell polarity, specifically serine-threonine kinase Mark2 protein, leads to its increased expression in satellite cells (activated muscle stem cells). Thus, absence of dystrophin leads to several intrinsic defects, such as inability to localize cell polarity regulator Pard3. These intrinsic defects, eventually impair muscle regeneration process, because if reduced generation of myogenic progenitors. Hence, it was concluded that the reasons for muscle wasting in DMD can be attributed to impaired regeneration of intrinsic satellite cell dysfunction and myofiber fragility.

In a study conducted by N. Ito et al (2016), it was found that treatment with leukocyte inhibitory factor (LIF) helped to maintain the undifferentiated state of satellite stem cells and also helped to maintain their transplantation efficiency. It was stated that since LIF has been reported to be functionally involved in muscle regeneration, and has alleviated the pathology of a mouse model of DMD, its role `in transplantation efficiency must be analysed. Research also stated that to improve the migration of the transplanted cells, a combination of LIF with other cytokines such as bFGF, would be required.

Anand S, Transcell’s Process Scientist compiles information as:

Ray of hope for Muscular dystrophy patients:

In a recent clinical trial, doctors at AIIMS have found a significant improvement in 20 patients who received stem cell therapy for treating MD.The report of the trial has also been published in the Journal of Stem Cells in its recent issue. Patients suffering from the disease die between ages of 13 to 21 years. According to Dr. B.S. Rajpoot, who led the clinical trial,  umbilical cord derived stem cells and IGF1 (a protein that in humans is encoded by the IGF1 gene) was used for stabilization as well as reversal of muscle damage.Initial observations over a period of three months have shown that stability in muscle function has improved and that there was a progressive decline in calf size of the DMD patients up to three years after stem cell transplantation, indicative of increased muscle strength. The added advantage no deleterious effects when using umbilical cord tissue derived stem cells is indicative of the safety of this treatment modality.

Mekhla Singhania,
B. Tech in Biotechnology,
VIT, Vellore, India

Stem cell therapy new hope to cure muscular Dystrophy: Dr Nandini

Somashekhar, a medical store owner from Mumbai ,who was unable to stand on his feet and walk since past 15 years due to Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy disorder could now carry on his daily routine without any problem, thanks to Mumbai based NeuroGen, Brain and Spine Institute. Somashekhar is the recipient of a stem cell based therapy, which helped him recover within a span of six months. Dr NandiniGokulchandran, deputy director and head of medical services of NeuroGen said stem cell therapy is new hope for patients suffering from so far incurable debilitating disease called Muscular Dystrophy, disorders connected to brain and muscles.

Ryan Benton, a MD patient recently celebrated his 30th birthday thanks to an allogenic adult stem cell transplantation he has undergone. This was the first ever documented case of a MD patient who has lived beyond the normal life expectancy for patients with MD. Due to the restrictions in the US, Ryan had to take several trips to panama to undergo the experimental stem cell therapy. The FDA finally realized the importance of using stem cells for treating MD and granted approval for Ryan to undergo the treatment in the US on a regular basis which led to a more effective reversion of the disease’s progression.


Chances for Muscle Regeneration Improved with Pre-Transplant Cell Treatment

Dr. Shin’ichi Takeda’s research group at the Department of Molecular Therapy, National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Kodaira, Japan has successfully shown that muscle stem cells, treated with leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) are better at forming new muscle fibers when transplanted into the body. Satellite stem cells, found in the muscle have been studied as a therapeutic approach for many years to induce the production of new muscle fibers in people with muscle disease such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But studies on the transplantation efficiency of these satellite stem cells in vitro have not yielded positive results. But now, pre-treatment of the satellite cells with LIF, a cytokine could help maintain the undifferentiated state of these cells. According to Dr. Shin’ichi Takeda,“This research enables us to get one step closer to the optimal culture conditions for muscle stem cells”.

Transcomm December – 2016

Stem Cell Biology As Century Of Biology For Drug Discovery In Neurological Disorders

New revelations into the biology of stem cells have raised expectations for their use in the treatment of neurologic diseases. Formerly, stem cell transplantation was promulgated as tools of replacing cells in central nervous system indicating that transplanted stem cells may decrease deleterious inflammation as well and improve endogenous recovery processes. Generally, neurodegenerative disorders are investigated using animal models, primary cultures and post mortem human brain tissues. The trans-differentiating properties of stem cells into different lineages including of ectodermal neurogenesis make them very fascinating advanced platforms for screening drug molecules property advantageous for neuroregeneration.  This is to the extent of considering stem cell platforms for predicting drug molecules role towards specific target receptors of the brain cells. In December 2016 Transcomm, we critically appraise the different types of stem cells, their established therapeutic role, and the applications to which they have been attributed to, with the hope that the evidence shown on the stem cells be translated into clinical reality.

I want to highlight 2016 news on the 13-year study published in The Lancet showing stem cells’ life-altering benefits for multiple sclerosis patients while wishing you all a happy reading and New year 2017.

S Dravida CEO

Patient-derived somatic cells (for example, fibroblasts) can be reprogrammed to generate iPSCs carrying a disease-specific genetic aberration. These cells can then be differentiated into the disease-affected cell type (for example, neurons in neurodegenerative diseases). After the establishment of a cellular disorder model with disease-specific phenotypes, three main strategies are commonly used: high-throughput screening (HTS) of drugs, the candidate drug approach or patient-specific therapy. In HTS, a very large number of compounds are tested on the differentiated cells, followed by phenotype re-evaluation. This method is extremely valuable for identifying novel therapies in vitro, by using large libraries of compounds. By contrast, both the candidate drug approach and the patient-specific therapy use a small number of potential drugs to attenuate the disease. These approaches are useful when the disease mechanism is known and potential therapies are available. Drugs found by both the HTS and candidate drug approaches usually require substantial safety assays before being prescribed to patients, whereas drugs already approved by regulatory agencies can be immediately prescribed for treatment.

Anand Soorneedi
Process Scientist

Gene therapy using mesenchymal stem cells for Huntington’s disease is showing promise in mouse studies, and preparations are underway to possibly move it into clinical testing. Before the technique might be ready for human trials, however, scientists need to master a few more steps, using larger animal models to investigate the therapy’s safety and likely long-term effects. In the report, “Clinical trial perspective for adult and juvenile Huntington’s disease using genetically-engineered mesenchymal stem cells, ”published in the journal Neural Regeneration Research scientists at University of California Davis Health System summarize the advances so far, discuss the shortcomings of mouse models of Huntington’s disease, and describe preparations for a future clinical trial. Because of their unique biological properties, mesenchymal stem cells have shown tremendous promise in stem cell-based gene therapy approaches in recent years, and applications targeting other neurological diseases, such as ALS and stroke, are now in clinical trials.

These stem cells can be isolated from several easily accessible tissues, and can migrate to brain areas of tissue damage, where they release beneficial factors of their own. They can also be easily manipulated to express other factors.

One of the most important features of these cells, making them such a valuable option for clinical practice, is that they do not elicit an immune response when transplanted from one person to another.

Unmet Medical Needs and Increasing Government Support Boost Global Stem Cells Market

With an ever increasing demand for medical intervention for growing chronic illnesses, the number of R & D activities in  the field of mesenchymal stem cells has been rapidly growing. In developed countries like the US, improved government support and access to funding has been fostering stem cell based clinical research. The increasing awareness among the general public has also been adding to this surge in the market for stem cells.

Rapid proliferation of medical tourism facilities across countries such as India, Brazil, China, Malaysia, and Mexico also aids the development of the stem cells market in Latin America and Asia Pacific. Apart from the aforementioned market drivers, a multitude of factors present substantial growth opportunities before the market, such as rising disposable incomes in developing economies, development of the contract research industry, increasing prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases, and the need to replace animal tissue in drug discovery.

North America has been  leading the global stem cells market in 2011, followed closely by Europe. High prevalence of neurological and cardiac diseases in the U.S, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causes more than 50% of the total deaths in the country every year, is a significant factor contributing to the growth of the stem cells market in North America.

The literature analyzed:

It is observed that the neuro-restoration is evolving at an accelerated pace over the past decade. This report has briefly compiled the widespread applicability of stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to achieve neurorestoration. Overall, it is noticed that human stem cells and patient derived iPSCs have been instrumental in overcoming the major limitations of animal based research, providing a more profound understanding of the neurodegenerative disorders. Patient derived iPSCs are even better models for understanding the disease pathophysiology and mechanisms because they carry the patient’s genotype, bear the disease mutations and also account for the environmental influences, thereby reducing variables to a large extent. Although it is agreed that stem cell therapy has set off both interests and alarms in the scientific community, its arrival has paved the way for a possible cure with minimized side effects. Personalized medical treatment using iPSCs is the current face of modern medicine and in the present context, less invasive methods of stem cell implantation across the blood brain barrier are being explored. Additionally, constant efforts are being made to scale down the cost and increase the efficacy of the approach.

Neurodegenerative diseases have a series of devastating consequences and the lack or curative therapies often have a high economic impact, thereby placing a huge burden on the society. This is becoming a global health concern. However, recent advances in stem cell biology are serving as a ray of hope, as they are changing the current face of neurodegenerative disease modelling, diagnosis and transplantation therapeutics.

(Marchetto et al., 2011). However, these techniques have their own limitations, although they are informative. By definition, Stem cells are the naive cells of the body with a commendable ability to self-renew, proliferate, differentiate into cells for multi-lineage commitment. Interestingly, their origin can either be fetal, embryonic or adult tissues of the body (iPSCs). Stem cells and iPSCs have been recently finding widespread applications, serving as disease models as well as transplantation and regenerative therapeutics. Every disease has its own characteristic parameter to evaluate- cellular, molecular, anatomical, genotypic and phenotypic attributes. To understand these aspects in vitro, very specific cell types expressing the disease phenotypes are a necessity. Fortunately, most of these requirements have been positively met by the use of stem cell technology.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorders of the world, lately reported as the 6th major reason for death. It is the leading cause of dementia in the aging population, as the hippocampus, amygdale, neocortex and basal forebrain regions of the patients’ brains are adversely affected, leading to a severe impairment of cognition and memory. The tau hypothesis says that tau protein abnormalities initiate the very disease cascade. In this model, hyperphosphorylated tau begins to pair with other threads of tau forming neurofibrillary tangles inside nerve cell bodies. This leads to microtubules disintegration, destroying the structure of the cell’s cytoskeleton collapsing the neuron’s transport system. Using the mouse models of AD, Blurton-Jones et al in 2009 reported that neural stem cells transplanted in the hippocampus improved memory deficits significantly. Furthermore, observations from animal studies have pointed out that transplanted stem cells migrated and differentiated into cholinergic neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Apart from replacement of the lost neurons, stem cells stimulated endogenous neural precursors, promoted structural neuroplasticity, inhibited proinflammatory cytokines, suppressed neuronal apoptosis and expressed growth factors [Abdel-Salam, 2011].  Yagi et al(2011) is credited to have first derived neurons from patient iPSCs. Since then, a number of studies have been directed towards the approach of patient-specific iPSC derived AD modelling which have resulted in positive outcomes.


Parkinson’s disease ranks second after AD in being the most common and widely prevalent neurodegenerative disorder inflicting almost 1% of the aging population globally. It is typically a disease of the basal ganglia characterized by  a progressive degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. This leads to motor dysfunction.  The presence of lewy bodies (a-synuclein aggregates) which further promotes neural death is another major hallmark of this disease. The currently available therapies for PD only address the symptoms but do not cure the illness.

Over the last two decades, preclinical and clinical trials in PD patients have demonstrated that stem cell therapy of human embryonic mesencephalic tissue has the capacity to reinnervate the striatum. In fact, PD has emerged as the best-suited neurodegenerative diseases for stem cell therapy (Rosser et al., 2007 and Kim et al., 2009). The basic essence of stem cell therapy in PD is their ability to differentiate into dopaminergic neurons. Very encouragingly, Soldner and colleagues’ finding in 2009 that fibroblasts from PD patients can be reprogrammed to differentiate into dopaminergic neurons was a turning point in the clinical area of PD. However, despite the impressive potential of stem cell therapy in PD, there is always a risk of the serious graft-induced dyskinesis involved, which are being carefully evaluated.


ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterised by the death of the upper and lower motor neurons with subsequent muscular paralysis and atrophy. Compared to other neurodegenerative diseases, certain features of ALS make it more challenging to experiment stem cell therapy. The most important aspect is the unknown pathogenesis, followed by the lack of knowledge on how the disease spreads in the human body. Choosing the ideal site to implant stem cell is difficult without answers to the above questions. Theoretically, the objective of stem cell therapy in ALS would be to substitute the motor neurons. Further, the fundamental strategies of stem cell therapy in ALS consist of the regulation of inflammation and the expression of neurotrophic factors.

Transplantation therapy employing stem cells can be effectively used as a therapeutic measure to deal with the devastating disease. Mesenchymal stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells have been efficiently employed as transplants in the affected spinal cord and have favourably supported ALS management (Mazzini et al., 2012). However, studies were conducted on a small group of patients and thus thorough research continues so as to apply the same for a larger pool of patients. Neural stem cells (NSCs) Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), glial- restricted progenitor cells (GRPs), and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) also offer a potential alternative for transplantation approaches and can be used (Traub et al., 2011). Stem cell therapy has been an area of debate for a long time. The beneficial aspects cannot be overlooked, but extensive clinical trials are in progress so as to generate an effective treatment and possible cure for ALS in the near future.


Transcomm November – 2016

Brain stroke and the role of stem cells in treating it

In the United States alone, some 800,000 people suffer from a brain stroke each year and close to 7 million are chronic stroke patients.   With a population of 1.5 billion the burden of stroke on Indian society is considered to be significant. Increasing incidences of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension are also triggers for stroke in men and women. Stroke is the second most common cause of death in India reported by a reputed multi-center study carried out in Chennai. The recent report by the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society cites that the incidence of paralysis and stroke in India is increasing significantly by almost 50% every year with a very distressing fact that 40% die after a major stroke, 30% need full support and more than 50 % do not go back to work.

Strokes can fall into any of the two categories (i) Ischemic or (ii) Hemorrhagic. Approximately 87% of all the strokes tend to be ischemic in nature while the rest are hemorrhagic. The strokes are characterized by clot formation in a blood vessel supplying blood to a specific part of the brain or when there is a burst blood vessel which would then bleed into the brain and kill brain cells. This clot formation/internal bleeding eventually leads to very intensive damage of the affected area. Depending on the area of the brain in which the clot has occurred and its magnitude, it might lead to specific loss of function.  The most common loss of functions associated with stroke are cognitive and motor. While approved therapeutic interventions  for treating stroke such as administering tPA (tissue plasminogen activator)  to dissolve the clot that blocks the flow of blood to the brain, exist,  they have to be administered within a few hours of the occurrence of the stroke failing which they would be ineffective.

This poses a huge problem for patients who fail to receive the treatment immediately after stroke. A majority of such patients end up with disabilities. While there are documented cases wherein the lost ability is restored, the incidence of such cases is very low and typically happens over an extended period of time, which could only add to the discomfort of the patient.

Recent studies in the field of regenerative stem cell medicine have shown that administering stem cells to stroke patients helped improve restoration of neurological function. Autologous stem cell transplants have proved to be safe and promising in treating stroke patients, while allogenic stem cells could be developed as druggable tools to treat stroke. We at Transcell strongly believe that given the ever growing importance of stem cells in treating debilitating conditions such as stroke, cancers and other disorders, the general public should be made aware of cryopreserving their loved ones stem cells for use in the future.

Stem cells shown safe, beneficial for chronic stroke patients

Injecting modified, human, adult stem cells directly into the brains of chronic stroke patients proved not only safe but effective in restoring motor function, according to the findings of a small clinical trial led by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators. The patients, all of whom had suffered their first and only stroke between six months and three years before receiving the injections, remained conscious under light anesthesia throughout the procedure, which involved drilling a small hole through their skulls. The next day they all went home.

Although more than three-quarters of them suffered from transient headaches afterward — probably due to the surgical procedure and the physical constraints employed to ensure its precision — there were no side effects attributable to the stem cells themselves, and no life-threatening adverse effects linked to the procedure used to administer them, according to a paper, published online June 2 in Stroke, that details the trial’s results.

Thousands of lives a year could be changed thanks to a pilot research study by Imperial College which involves injecting a patient’s stem cells into their brain.

Doctors said the procedure could become routine in ten years after larger trials to examine its effectiveness in a wider group of patients.

Dr Madina Kara, Neuroscientist at The Stroke Association, said: “In the UK, someone has a stroke every three and half minutes, and around 58% of stroke survivors are left with a disability. One of the few existing treatments which can limit brain damage caused by stroke is thrombolysis. However, this drug can only be used to treat strokes caused by blood clots and must be administered within the first 4.5 hours after a stroke. There is an urgent need for alternative treatments to help prevent the debilitating impact of stroke.

Previous studies have shown that a type of stem cell, called CD34+ cells, shows promise to aid stroke recovery. These latest results suggest that this type of treatment could be administered safely and we’re looking forward to seeing the outcomes of further studies to see exactly how they are aiding recovery.

This is one of the most exciting recent developments in stroke research. It’s still early days in stem cell research but these findings could lead to new treatments for stroke patients in the future.”

-the Daily Telegraph website


Since it’s inception a few five years ago, Transcell’s commitment to reach the needy patient population through translating adult stem cell technologies has become nothing short of a movement led by my team at all levels. It has become a collective vision of my Research, Operations (including of Storage), Accounts, Sales & Marketing team of what we stand for and believe in as a Company today, engaging our mission to promote stem cell storage today  for better medicines to people of India, who need them now and tomorrow.

By integrating the purpose of storing stem cells with the need effectively communicated through our in-house research data and the real stories published , we intend to connect with our stakeholders on the meaning behind what we are upto in a scientific way. The purpose of our existence is to contribute effectively translating research to clinics in our life time strongly believing:

Don’t Climb a Mountain with an Intention that the World Should See You. Climb the Mountain with the Intention to See the World.

This is our story:

A German once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an idol of God…

Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby…

Surprised, he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statues of the same idol?”

“No,” said the sculptor

without looking up, “We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage…”

The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage…

“Where is the damage?” he asked.

“There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work….

“Oh… and Where are you going to install the idol?”

The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high…

“If the idol is that far who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked.

The sculptor stopped work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said,

“I will know it…”

The desire to excel is exclusive of the fact whether someone else appreciates it or not.

“Excellence” is a drive from the inside, not outside.

Excellence is not for someone else to notice but for your own satisfaction and efficiency.

Dr S Dravida CEO

Transcomm October – 2016

Biorights- An exaggeration or necessity

There is so much information on the internet regarding biorights.  The most concise information I found was an article in the Boston Globe dated October 10, 2016.

It seems that people are no longer willing to allow or provide specimens to labs without being financially compensated, given a full medical workup of the findings, or granted control over how their specimens will be used in research or even which research the specimens will be used in.  Also, as seen in the 2010 bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, what happens in the event that the specimen outlives the donor and there is no consent to use that specimen?  It seems the majority of the time, no consent is given at all whether the person is alive or dead.

It’s difficult to come to a clear conclusion on what is “right” and what is “wrong”.  It’s complicated.  As with most issues of this nature, we are walking a fine line of ethics.  A  precarious line.

First I think it’s important to determine who is the owner of the specimen.  In my opinion, the specimen belongs to the donor.  Initially.  But . . . Is there a transfer of ownership of that specimen once it is given to the lab?  Or is the transfer of ownership only once a consent has been signed?  Or is the transfer of ownership only upon payment for that specimen?  In my opinion, the transfer of ownership is when the specimen is given WITH a signed consent.

With regards to consent, this should be done during any collection of any sample.  Whether through a scheduled medical appointment/test or during a specific collection designated for research.  I am a bit surprised that this has even been an issue.  So consent in regards to specimens is something that I feel should be just a part of those consents.  In the event of post mortem collection of a specimen, there are several options for obtaining consent.  Perhaps, as in the US, people can simply register as organ donors and/or consent can be given by a family member at the time of organ donation in the event the donation takes place prior to death.  In situations where people have “left their bodies to science” I don’t think any additional consent is necessary – consent has already been given.

Then the transfer of ownership of the specimen transfers to the lab and should be used at will unless there is a specific notation of where, what, when and how the specimen can be used.

Many donors request a full medical workup of what is found during the research.  I think that is the right thing to do. Especially in cases where the BRCA gene and other significant findings are uncovered.  In some instances, the specimen may lead to advances in medicine directly related to the actual specimen that was given.  That to me is mind blowing!  In the words of my inner geek – science is so cool!

A more difficult determination is whether people should be compensated for their specimen donations.  Why not?  After all, it does belong to the donor until ownership has been transferred.  And when a specimen is taken during a surgical/medical procedure, the donor does pay the cost of that procedure.  And let us not forget the amount of revenue these samples can produce.  Biological samples will generate up to $23 Billion by 2018 for research/medical/pharmaceutical organizations.  $23 Billion!  Why shouldn’t the donor reap a bit of the reward?

My answer to this is, are we missing it?  In the name of “big business” have we lost sight of the “big picture”?  Have we gone from science for the greater good to science for the sake of a buck?  My answer is a resounding and sad – yes!

For me personally, if I can do something to contribute to the greater good – whether alive or dead – then by all means yes.  If it means a life can be saved; if it means another person can spend another day with their loved ones or have a greater quality of life, then yes.  I do not need to know how, what, when or why.  I just need to know that I did all I could to benefit my fellow beings.  It does not matter if the specimen is used before or after I die.

In this edition of Transcomm, we have tried to encompass the opinions on biorights held by  people from various walks of life. Happy reading!

Anand S, Process Scientist
Transcell Biologics, Hyderabad


Biorights should be redefined as the right to know the details of the research for which the sample is sourced to know the prospects of the research being done to know the profile of the sample by the donor only and cannot be a source of financing mechanism to alleviate poverty or convolute the purpose of research.  Also, technically, even the regulatory bodies in Bioethics and Biorights domain have to be well informed in terms of the type of samples that are being collected and used for what kind of research rather than coming up with blanket policy covering all the contexts, which would compromise the sanctity and the power of research.

As a researcher, I believe informed Consents with details for samples where extraction has to be done from a living donor with tracking system in place is a civilized approach  maintaining an all time scientific and medical inviolability. Paying the subjects/donors of the samples for research is a malpractice according to me, that could by itself lead to disastrous situations in the long run. Also, the truth that no sample collected has any value in research or development of any technology for human application, unless it is processed and the required material either genetic or cells are harvested and stored which involves investment in infrastructure suitable and for processing and cryopreservation is to be disseminated. Again, the term research defines that it is experimental and standardization with only 10-15% of probability of success in building the hypothesis. So, where is the exploitation of the donor of the sample that is assumed and monetary benefit is debated? The donors are doing no favor to the research that is undertaken by the pharma or any company or institute doing medical research in contributing towards either understanding the basic sciences or applications to treat diseases of mankind. More so, it is an option given to the eligible donors and whosoever believes with conviction that the research on their samples would help solving medical problems if not in their lifetime at least for the human race would participate voluntarily with no monetary expectation from the recipients.

Science and research in medicine is an art of soluble for sure while social value orientation promotes donation of samples. The movement of Biorights emphasizing on monetary benefits to the donor of the sample could trickle down as trade violating the right to human integrity in countries like India where there is no ecosystem connecting researchers, institutes, hospitals and patient population. The closest analogy of the situations is Commercial Surrogacy in India, which had sparked debate in the society that is disjointed at the grass root level.

S Dravida, PhD
Transcell Biologics, Hyderabad.


To provide the necessary biological products like blood and blood components including Bone marrow to meet the need of the patients or researchers, the volunteer donors are encouraged or motivated to participate in the program at their understanding level.

I personally feel that every individual has a right to decide to help others by donating their biological samples and donors may be given the confidence of keeping their records, assured.

Donors of biological material have a right to be informed of its possible uses and of potential commercial spin-offs;

The right to control the biological material taken from a donor ceases at the time of donation. Donors cannot claim rights of “ownership” in biological material; and the recipient has the right to commercial exploitation of any products developed from the processing of biological material received, in accordance with current legislation

Typically, patients who consent to the use of their tissue for biomedical research do so with the expectation that the donated tissue will be used to further scientific knowledge and to enhance the health and well-being of other patients.

The tissue is given by the patient as a gift, on the assumption that it will be used in good faith for the medical benefit of others. Patients’ perceptions of such donations might be very different if it is known that commercial profits are a potential objective of the research to be conducted. Patients, therefore, cannot provide fully informed consent to the use of their organs or tissues in clinical research unless potential commercial applications of the tissue and its products are disclosed.

Physicians or the Pharmaceuticals contemplating the commercial use of human tissue should abide by the following guidelines:

  1. Informed consent must be obtained from patients for the use of organs or tissues in clinical research.
  2. Potential commercial applications must be disclosed to the patient before a profit is realized on products developed from biological materials.
  3. Human tissue and its products may not be used for commercial purposes without the informed consent of the patient who provided the original cellular material.
  4. Profits from the commercial use of human tissue and its products may be shared with patients, in accordance with lawful contractual agreements.


Ravi Prasad Pisupati, LLM, Tempus Law Associates, Hyderabad.

My opinion is where organs or samples are being collected by the Companies or Research Institutes for research purposes, in the event of commercial success of such research, it would be justified that some portion of the proceeds or the commercial benefits accrued by the Companies be contributed to a Fund. This Fund could be used for extending some pecuniary advantage to the donors or their families or used for the benefit of the patient population at large.

Nedunchezhian. PhD, PGMS.
Ncare Solutions, Hyderabad, India


Research and Development is never funded adequately to the needs of the population and donations are the major source of its continuance.  The new era of promising research involving stem cells, bone marrow cells to name a few are revolutionising the treatment options for the needy and offering hope for a range of diseases without any cure, so far.  Due to existing laws and resistance from people with ethical considerations, most of these research activities are going at a slow pace.  However, there are lots of entrepreneurs trialing self-funded research with the help of donors.  It is an undisputed fact that these will lead to saving lives at the end of the day.

The argument that people or MNCs involved in the research would/may make millions after finding a cure for any disease and hence donors get some money for their participation is ridiculous.  This would be an insult to the generosity of the donor, if there is a monetary consideration.  Donation of Organs, Stem cells, blood and plasma to name a few are helping many needy in the world giving humanity a ray of hope.  We need to understand that research is not just a means of making money but a passion for people who value life.

Paying the donors has previously had negative consequences across the globe.  Till the 90s Blood donors were paid in India and it became one of the most flourishing businesses that had to be abolished.  Every new step has always been viewed with suspicion, but we need to be practical and optimistic, I feel.

My son was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a juvenile form of Macular Degeneration at the age of 18 in 2013.  There is no known cure for it and a number of clinical trials are underway throughout the world using different protocols.  Stem cell therapy and Gene therapy are the two new strategies that are proposed to give hope to my son. He chose to participate in a stem cell therapy case study with Transcell Biologics Pvt. Ltd in Hyderabad for the last 2 years.  He is hopeful that the degeneration would stop and he would be in a position to get a cure for his condition soon!  This is only possible if research is continued in finding cures for diseases and genetic conditions. Donors are very important in providing healthy stem cells and Bone marrow cells. Creating controversies would only delay results for people who badly need cure.

These issues need to be taken up as a social responsibility and more participation is needed from people and entrepreneurs. Profits are not the only means of research and people who talk about paying donors need to realize that a quality life is more important than money.  Hope common sense prevails!


Ravi Nyayapati, Australia

Biorights is a movement that was initiated with an intent to enhance control and provide financial incentives to participants of research for their biological contributions.

At first, it only seems fair that the subjects benefit financially for providing their personal genetic/ biological data in the form of blood samples, saliva etc. Some companies develop patents for financial gains. Some collect these samples only to be stored and sold later to researchers. It feels reasonable to demand a share in the profits being made.
Existing norms demand that participants have access to the following information- the purpose of the study, how patient information will be used in the study, the risks that he/she could face and most importantly that they consent to it, having understood the implications.
An enhanced control, however, would mean complete disclosure of all the information gleaned from the participants’ sample during the study and any additional information that was intentionally sought from it.
Health and human resources and 15 other federal agencies have proposed a controversial new requirement of patients’ permission to study biological material such as blood, pieces of tumor and other left over tissue from routine or surgical procedures even if researchers are unaware of the donors’ identity.
Proposal of such advances have made researchers anxious as many feel that it would stifle growth and drastically slow down medical research. Offering money as incentive can significantly reduce the number of subjects that can be studied.  It may be nearly impossible to solicit patients for consent without adequate resources and information offered by healthcare centers that provide samples. It would be unfair to those that have struggled to bring about real change rather than merely seeking commercial gains and have relied solely on the beneficence of people for the same.
Can we strike a balance? Is there a solution that can ease the anxiety on both sides?
Here are a few suggestions that could be considered-

Standardization : Developing an understanding on how much and when the information on the results of the study has to be revealed is crucial. This can only happen through dialogue and by addressing issues on both sides to reach a compromise.

At collecting centers, patients could be made aware that their samples could potentially be used in research and that they can consent for the same. Contact information of those willing can be documented making it easy to reach them when required.

Educating patients further on how their contribution has helped for the advancement of a study or in making a cutting edge discovery will only serve as a motivation for many more to join in.

Alleviating misconceptions about misuse of biological data can also make a huge difference.

Dr. Sanjana Kareti
Junior research fellow
Transcell Biologics


Now a days “Biobanks” are a major business segments across the world. Biobanks refers to the repository that collects stores and distributes human biological materials including blood, plasma, saliva, purified DNA and other biospecimens. Lot of centres do sell the  material for commercial purposes or sublease the repository for further research or monetary gains where the patient does not get any benefit from the ongoing business.

Whenever the business comes into research, people’s expectations also increases and they would start demanding for compensation.  Probably this is single most important reason for the “Biorights”. Every biological specimen is collected after an informed consent. If some on volunteers to donate the sample, I personally feel that there is no need to compensate for the patient or subject provided the company or organization does only research work and there is no commercial element. If someone collects the sample for the commercial purpose, it is judicious to compensate the respective patient or subject. Coming to royalties from the ongoing research, there should be strict understanding and guidelines between the governments or controlling authorities, research companies and public.

Angel Investor , Nagendra Bandaru, echoes the opinion of “No cash” for donating samples for research that may have commercialization potential. He also strongly believes that community participation from patients, donors volunteering the samples donation (that would not hurt them) to the research and development towards the discoveries and innovations in drugs development should not be of business interest, which is instant gratification only. The focus and hope could be more towards the final objective that is for larger good. He also suggests Clinicians crucial role in this altruistic movement connecting the context.

Dr.Ramesh Teegala
Sonntag International Fellow (UCSF,USA)
International Neuroendoscopy fellow (Germany)
International Skull base Fellow (Slovenia)