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CCMB, AIG join hands for gastro, liver disease research

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , Oct. 24

THE Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG), one of Asia's largest gastrointestinal and liver diseases care centre and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), focussing on research in genetic diseases, have teamed up to initiate research in gastrointestinal and liver diseases that could possibly lead to work on stem cells.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by the Chairman of AIG, Dr D. Nageshwar Reddy and the Director of CCMB, Dr Lalji Singh, late on Saturday. The understanding seeks to initiate research in the areas of gene mutations that are said to be specific to regions as recent studies indicate.

"The research would be co-funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research, Department of Science and Technology and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Later, we plan to muster support from the Technology Development Board and Asian Healthcare Foundation. Since the spin off of this research could mean work on stem cells and gene specific drug treatment, we expect pharma companies would join to support our work," Dr Reddy said.

"These studies would include gene mutations causing diseases in Indian population that are lot different from those seen in western countries. The diseases prevalent in India are quite distinct and typical in comparison to their western counterparts and therefore research workers in developed countries may not be interested in studying our patient's diseases patterns," he explained.

Dr Reddy said understanding the basic genetic cause of the disease may result in improved treatment and care for many diseases. Therefore, this association and joint research initiative would help study genetic and biological basis of gastrointestinal diseases.

Already CCMB and AIG have completed research that has resulted in the discovery of a new gene mutation as a cause for pancreatic diseases in the country. This work published in the British Journal of Genetic and Gasteroenterology has created a big stir in international medical community. Further work is in progress to unveil the mysteries of pancreatic cancer and hereditary polyposis. This was funded by the ICMR and DST, Dr Reddy said.0

Ethics of DNA banks: Dr Lalji Singh, said "While the whole world is debating issues relating to gene banks and ethics of DNA information exchange, I have recently come across an Indian private company which is passing on vital information to some of its overseas clients. First, this is unethical and illegal. As a country, we have to work on norms that regulate such practices."

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