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Abstract

Regenerative medicine holds tremendous potential as an alternative to conventional treatments and for currently incurable diseases, but there are few products and approved applications on the international therapeutic market. This thesis empirically investigates and analyses the provision of stem cell therapies in India. It offers unique insights into a field of emerging commercial and therapeutic practices and how they interact with national and international regulation and global politics of science and biomedicine. I argue that stem cell treatment-making in India is an innovative way of making stem cell therapies work through a clinical practice approach, involving a flexible standardisation of treatment protocols and requiring the collaboration of patients in making live cells work within their bodies. My ethnographic research shows how a new treatment is offered that is experientially viable and valuable for patients and practitioners. At the same time, the scientific techniques, therapeutic results as well as commercial scale that unfold in the everyday are very different from the spectacular representations of a major transformation of biomedicine or the fears about dangerous practices in India that prevail in existing bioethical, policy and social science literature. This study of stem cell treatment-making in India contributes to larger questions about the making of science and medical innovation from the perspective of the Global South and offers a crucial perspective on social science knowledge production as stem cell treatment-making in India challenges not only biomedical orthodoxy but also sociological and anthropological categories and reflexivity.

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