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The Indian government is to devise guidelines aimed at ending the unmonitored use of stem cells to treat medical conditions.

Several private and public institutions are using stem cells in procedures such as heart surgery and treating blindness. But the clinics follow these procedures without being supervised by any regulatory body. And although some clinics have informed the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) about their planned use of stem cells, many private clinics have not.

A representative of the council said it was concerned that the safety and effectiveness of using stem cells were unproven, and that clinics could be using poor quality cells.

This situation has arisen largely because of a lack of coordination between the council and another government body — the Department of Biotechnology — in issuing guidelines on stem-cell research.

The council and the department are now moving quickly to draw up guidelines on the clinical use of stem cells and to organise workshops to educate doctors about good clinical practice.

Link to full Nature news story 

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