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Stem cell treatment faces major hurdles

Update: December, 29/2014 - 09:17
Over the last decade only around 10,000 stem cell samples were collected by five banks.— Photo baomoi

HCM CITY (VNS) —  Stem cell treatment has made considerable headway in Viet Nam, but very few scientists and doctors in the country have a deep understanding of the subject, experts say.

Addressing the "Stem Cell Day" event organised at the HCM City University of Science on Wednesday, they said that diseases of blood, heart and skin as well as cerebral palsy have been treated successfully in the country with stem cells.

Stem cells are unspecialised cells produced in the bone marrow, fatty tissue and blood that develop into whichever type of cell the body needs at a particular time. They are increasingly used in treating many diseases.

HCM City is a national leader in researching and application of stem cells treatment.

The Blood Transfusion and Hematology Hospital, Van Hanh Hospital and 115 People's Hospital in the city are carrying out clinical research on using stem cells to treat degenerative joint disease.

Dr Pham Van Phuc, deputy head of the university's Stem Cell Application and Research Laboratory, said there are only 300 scientists and doctors working in the field nation-wide, and a mere 50 specialise in it.

There is also a shortage of standard laboratories for research and application, he said.

Most countries that are advanced in the field have laboratories with Good Laboratory Practice and Good Manufacturing Practice licenses, which are mandatory for receiving, subdividing, treating, culturing, and preserving stem cells for transplant, he said.

Dr Truong Dinh Kiet, chairman of the HCM City Stem Cell Society, said very few stem cells are stored in banks in major cities like Ha Noi and HCM City.

Over the last decade only around 10,000 stem cell samples were collected by five banks, he said, attributing it to a lack of knowledge about what the banks do.

There is little collaboration between researchers and industry, he said.

Kiet also expressed concern that the public might be deceived into believing the dubious claims of several establishments offering beauty treatment using stem cells.

People hear a lot about stem cells but do not really understand them, so it is important to spread awareness of that they are and what they can do, he said.

The Stem Cell Day was organised by the HCM City Stem Cell Society along with the HCM City University of Science's Stem Cell Application and Research Laboratory. — VNS

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