Stem cell research future of clinical biology: Nobel laureate

Thiruvananthapuram: Stem cell advancements in future may help address some key problems in clinical medicine and disease treatments, including shortage of transplant organs, according to Nobel laureate Prof Ferid Murad.

In the years to come it could be possible to grow transplantable tissues and organs in the laboratory from cells harvested from the patients themselves, Murad said.

He was delivering a lecture at the two-day international symposium on nitric oxide organised by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology here yesterday.

Murad, who found that Nitric Oxide (NO) is a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system causing dilation of blood vessels, shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery.

Currently a professor at Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, George Washington University, the 79-year-old continues to work on clinical applications of research into the nitric oxide and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP), another messenger molecule, signalling pathways.

"I think a day will come when we take a sample of tissue from a patient, isolate stem cells and induce their differentiation, construct healthy tissues in the laboratory and give them back to the patients." That will potentially decrease the need for organ transplants and other donors, he said.

Since the first discovery of biological applications of Nitric Oxide in the late 1970s there has been a proliferation of research in the area. "There are now at least 130,000 or more research publications on nitric oxide; that's about 20 or 30 papers a day," and it's impossible to keep pace with all the developments, he said.

Murad also gave away awards to the best posters at the symposium.

Kerala State Committee on Science Technology and Environment Executive Vice-President Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai, RCGB's Prof C C Kartha and symposium Organising Secretary Dr Priya Srinivas spoke at the valedictory function.