China surpasses Canada in stem cell advances

(Stem Cells News image)

Chinese researchers have become the world’s fifth most prolific contributors to peer-reviewed scientific literature on Regenerative Medicine (RM), according to an international study published on Friday (…)
Regenerative Medicine is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research and clinical applications focused on the repair, replacement or regeneration of cells, tissues, or organs, which uses a combination of approaches including gene therapy, stem cell transplantation, tissue engineering, and the reprogramming of cell and tissue types.

But as the stem cell research develops fast in recent years, RM becomes more and more dependent on this side, and shared some ethic criticism against stem cell research since it involves the usage of human embryos.

The article highlighted Chinese scientific firsts. For example, a hospital in Shanghai cultivated human brain tissue in 2002 after taking a sample from the end of a chopstick implanted in a patient’s frontal lobe amid a disagreement at a restaurant.
Neural stem cells were cultured from trauma patients and reinjected into their brains in the first known controlled clinical trial of adult stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury.

The article also said China to date had created at least 25 human embryonic stem cell lines, four of which were of a specialized type that only two other groups worldwide had managed to create then.
The numbers were based on analysis of articles which had been published in international peer-reviewed journals. The creation ofsome stem cell lines may not be published or only in Chinese journals, and some estimated that China had over 70 cell lines (…)

But the authors also pointed out that some of the key elements were “double edged”. For example, the focus on application may come at the expense of fundamental research and a better integration between basic and applied research could help move stem cell research forward in China.
They mentioned several other challenges for RM in China, such as the further improvement of regulations and the safety of stem cell therapies.

Regarding the regulation of embryonic stem cell research, which is often controversial in some countries as the United States but is less contentious to Chinese culture and religion, the authors said Chinese regulations “are very similar to that which is allowed in the UK”. Though it needs improvement, it’s not as weak as misinterpreted by some people (…)

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