Iran Celebrates 30 Years of Medical Success

Monday, February 9, 2009

Patricia Khashayar

In the three decades since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian researchers have made several crowning achievements in the field of medicine.

While in the hectic years following the Revolution the majority of surgical operations were performed by Indian and Pakistani physicians, Iranian doctors took matters into their own hands. Today these physicians not only perform all medical procedures in the country, but also save the lives of patients referred to them from neighboring countries.

The past thirty years have witnessed a considerable increase in the number of articles published in medical peer-reviewed journals, as a result Iran now ranks 27th in the world in terms of positive contributions to the field of medicine.

Today Iran has become one of the leading countries in pharmaceutical industry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetics and stem cell research.

The list of the most recent achievements of Iranian scientists is as follows:


-Kidney transplant- Iran ranks fourth in the world in kidney transplants with over 2,000 procedures performed annually.

-Liver transplant- Iran performed its first liver transplant in Shiraz in 1993. Some 42 liver transplants have been performed in the country since the approval of the cerebral death law, seven years ago.

-Pancreas transplant- Iran is the second country in the world, where a pancreas transplant from a brain-dead donor has been successfully performed.

Stem cell

Iran is one of the 10 countries that produce human embryonic stem cells. The country has emerged as the leading stem cell researcher in the Middle East, due to its innovative scientific studies in this field.

Last year, Iranian researchers celebrated two thousand stem cell transplants and cell therapies performed at the BMT Research Center.

Iranian scientists have successfully identified and isolated human kidney stem cells, cultured and produced differentiated splenic and liver tissues in mice, and produced smooth muscle cells from human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal cells.

Iranian researchers have successfully used Schwann cell transplantation to repair spinal cord injuries, a procedure which is not routinely performed in countries other than Russia, China, and Germany.

The technique has so far been used to treat about 300 patients. The success rate was reported to be about 60 percent, whereas the success rate of the techniques used in other countries was no higher than 10 percent.

Following their latest achievements in the application of stem cells in treating patients with cardiac arrest, chronic lower extremities ulcers, limbal stem cell deficiency, liver cirrhosis, and vitiligo, the country's first cellular therapy center was inaugurated in 2008 for the purpose of treating refractory diseases.


The country's first cloned lamb, Royana, was born on Sept. 30, 2006 in the city of Isfahan. Royana survived the typical post-natal complications of cloned animals.

Royana made Iran the first country in the Middle East to successfully clone a lamb.

Iran's second cloned lamb was successfully born at twenty-eight weeks of gestation. The lamb lived for 10 minutes but died due to Polyhydramnios.

Organs and Devices

-Repair damaged organs- With the faster tissue-repair process of nanocrystals Iranian scientists have repaired damaged liver, esophagus, cartilage and bones.

-Polymer/bioactive artificial cartilage- This compound has shown promising results in repairing damaged cartilage in cellular modules.

-Bone- Iran's homemade composite bone transplants is used to repair bony defects.

-Skin- Iranian researchers have produced natural skin from fibroblast cells, critical in wound healing.

They have also used the patient's own pigment producing cells to treat a skin disease known as vitiligo. The new technique is believed to remove vitiligo lesions in less than 6 months, a period much shorter than other available methods.

-Artificial Liver- The Iranian-made artificial liver, first of its kind , can improve the quality of life in patients suffering from liver failure. The device is a simulation of normal liver and can detoxify the blood and excrete unnecessary compounds in affected individuals.

Corneal contact lenses- These lenses are the world's first lenses designed according to the patients corneal anatomy to treat keratoconus.

-Radionuclide imaging technology- This technology has shown promising results in imaging and diagnosing breast cancer.


-Angipars- The world's first herbal medication for treating diabetic foot ulcers, Angipars, promotes the healing process by improving circulation in the ulcer without any side effects.

This drug has also proven effective in individuals suffering from a skin disease known as scleroderma. The medication not only improves the healing process of wounds but also accelerates the regrowth of damaged tissue; it also helps smooth the skin and tackles discoloration, improving the quality of life in patients.

-Immuno-Modulator Drug (IMOD)- This drug is the first herbal drug effective in treating AIDS particularly those with a CD4 below 350. This drug controls the multiplication of the HIV virus in a 90-day treatment course by increasing the number of CD4 cells without causing any noticeable side effects.

-Radionuclide drugs- Iranian researchers have successfully mass-produced the three basic drugs in this category, including molybdenum, tecnesium and iodine 131.

-Diphenhydramine chloride- Diphenhydramine chloride, a common antihistamine, has also been successfully mass-produced for the first time in the country.

-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)- Iran is the first country in the Middle East and the fifth in the world to produce iPSCs.

-Human monoclonal hybridoma antibodies- Iran has mass-produced human monoclonal hybridoma antibodies, which are an acceptable substitute for monoclonal antibody because the simultaneous use of cephaline and actinomycine D, eliminates the toxic effects of polyethylene glycol and aminopterin and increases the productivity of hybridoma by 30 percent.

-Cinnovex- The production of this homemade multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, which is as effective as the US Avonex, ended the monopoly of the medicine.

Cinnovex is currently exported to over 20 European, Asian and South American countries.

-Erythropoietin beta- This compound is effective in increasing the production of red blood cells and lowering the mortality rate among cancer and chronic renal failure patients.

-Interferon beta 1- The Iranian version of Rebif is an effective drug in treating MS attacks through improving the immune system. Iran is now the third world state to manufacture the drug.

-Interferon gamma-

-Fingolimod- This drug can effectively prevent disabling MS attacks; a single dose of the drug lowers the risk of subsequent attacks by 50 percent.

-Pegaferon- Iran has mass-produced a recombinant pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) alpha-2a, effective in treating chronic hepatitis C.

-Polyethylene glycol molecule- This compound is a key substance in treating hepatitis C.

-L. major vaccine (Alum-ALM) -

-Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis vaccine-

Iran has also celebrated the eradication of several contagious diseases, leading to a considerable decline in the under-five mortality rate.

Nearly all Iranian children are inoculated based on the country's immunization guidelines, making the country first in the Middle East to eradicate contagious diseases such as polio, measles, rubella, infantile tetanus, tuberculosis and several other infectious diseases.

Through the efforts of Iranian health officials, several contagious diseases such as malaria, pertusis and diphtheria have also been brought under control.

The country is currently pursuing necessary strategies to lower the risk of developing hepatitis B and HIV.

In another national screening program, children suffering from congenital hypothyroidism were identified and treated in order to prevent 4,000 cases of mental retardation in the country.

The 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran marks three decades of inexhaustible efforts by Iranian researchers and scientists to serve not only their compatriots but also the whole of humanity.


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