Biotech Update

Biotech Update

ICMR pitches for biomedical research bill

Our News Bureau – Hyderabad

The Hwang Woo-Suk fraud has heated up debate on the ethical, technological and social issues pertaining to stem cell research worldwide. With India becoming a hot destination for biomedical research, top scientists have geared up to meet the new challenges and finalised guidelines to promote and regulate research in the area of biotechnology.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have framed new guidelines for stem cell research. These guidelines will subsequently form the basis for Biomedical Research Authority Bill. This decision was taken at the two-day symposium on stem cell research at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Dr Vasantha Muthuswamy, Senior Deputy Director General of ICMR announced that guidelines will be released after initial screening by a national committee. ICMR will initiate a public debate on social, legal and political issues involved in the stem cell research in different parts of the country. Based on the debate, a separate legislation will be made to include all aspects and issues pertaining to biomedical research.

The Biomedical Research Authority Bill will be an amended version of existing guidelines and will include ethical guidelines for biomedical research on human subjects. The key aspect of the draft Bill is to empower institutional ethical committees that are cleared by the national committee, to look at issues, take decisions and keep the apex committee informed of their decisions.

The existing draft Bill also allows embryonic stem cell research under the condition that only spare embryos from in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) method are used for research and no embryo is created. The present Bill is a step towards decentralisation of stem cell regulation.