NEW YORK – A recent study led by an Indian American researcher Bikul Das, at the Stanford University School of Medicine proved that in times of stress certain human embryonic stem cells produce molecules that benefit themselves along with the helping the nearby cells to survive.
“Altruism has been reported among bacterial populations and among humans and other animals, like monkeys and elephants,” said Stanford postdoctoral scholar Bikul Das, MBBS, PhD. “But in mammalian cells — at the cellular level — the idea of altruism has never been described before.”
Das has recently published a research paper documenting altruistic behavior by human embryonic stem cells, in a prominent international magazine ‘Stem Cells’.
“Altruism in cells can mean it will be possible to treat cancer without chemotherapy. In future, altruistic stem cells may be cultured and injected into cancerous tissue for treatment’’, said Dr Chandan J Das, assistant professor in the radio-diagnosis department at AIIMS, Delhi, about the study.
Dr Purna Kurkure, senior paediatric oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital says “this research will have a bearing on not just cancer research but in the overall understanding of the repair and regeneration mechanism of the human body. Altruism has been observed in bacteria, which is why bacteria are great survivors. So far, we haven’t been able to beat cancer because there is a lack of complete understanding about it. Chemotherapy only targets the end cells, not the root. This research is, therefore, a major leap in the battle against cancer”, reports Times of India.
Das has been congratulated by UK scientist Dr Peter W Andrews, one of the two gurus of embryonic stem cell research, for his findings.