A first-of-its-kind ‘Stem Cell Research Centre’ for animals will be set up in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced in the Assembly on Monday.

In a statement to the House, she said the Centre would be set up by the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) and it would function in collaboration with Michigan State University, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Wakeforest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The Centre would be set up at a cost of Rs 6.48 crore and would function from the veterinary university’s Madhavaram campus.

TANUVAS sources said that initially, the Centre would be set up on 10,000 sq-ft. Already, six faculty members from the university are undergoing training in the foreign universities with which TANUVAS had tied up for collaborative research and training. It would attract a lot of external funding, and help research being taken up on a large scale, the sources said.

Until now, stem cell research regarding animals was done in a sporadic manner by various institutions across the country. But, so far, none of the States has specifically set up a Stem Cell Research Centre, said the university sources.

Curing chronic ulcers and spinal cord injuries

The setting up of the Centre would help in curing some of the diseases such as chronic ulcer and spinal cord injury. Already the university was providing stem cell therapy for treating spinal cord injury in pet animals and chronic ulcerous wounds in horses.

It would expand the scope for regenerating tissues damaged during accident or due to metabolic disorders. If it proves successful, regenerative medicine will provide alternative therapy even for organ transplantations. The principle could be translated to human medicines also, said a senior Professor in the university.

Research activities in the new centre would be initiated within three months from the date of issuing the government order.

The centre would be strengthened by infrastructure facilities and purchase of the required equipment.

Ultrasound scan

The Chief Minister also announced the procurement of 53 ultrasound scan machines for major veterinary hospitals, cattle breeding centres and fodder development units.

The government will allocate Rs 8.81 crore for buying the scan machines. Annually 15,000 head of cattle would benefit from the new facility, the Chief Minister added.

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