Thailand seems to be a welcoming destination for organizations involved in stem cell research and the development and commercialization of first generation regenerative therapies. The Thai government is getting more involved - which will no doubt result in regulation to make the local environment much less attractive. Politicians are nothing if not adept at poisoning the roots of progress:
Thailand will set up a national committee to build the underlying framework for the kingdom's systematic study of factors concerning research and development (R&D) of stem cell applications to prevent exploitation from foreign firms, according to a report by the Thai News Agency (TNA) Thursday.
Public Health Minister Pinij Jarusombat who chaired a meeting on the nature and direction of stem cell study Wednesday, said that stem cell research gives hope for cures for some, otherwise, incurable diseases.
According to Pinij, participants agreed to the setting up a special committee to support the development of stem cell research to achieve the utmost benefit for Thailand and to reduce duplication of overlapping of activities.
Department of Medical Sciences Director-General Dr Paichit Warachit said that there are several organisations in Thailand which have conducted research on stem cells, including the National Blood Centre and medical schools.
Medical Council of Thailand president Prof Somsak Lolekha said that the US has yet to allow stem cell treatment in patients with coronary heart disease because there are no existing laws controlling safety procedures in stem cell treatment -- or a unifying standard.
The most interesting tidbit comes at the end of the article, noting that "several overseas companies want to set up laboratories for such activities in Thailand." It's clear that TheraVitae's high profile success in Thailand with the VesCell technology is steering further investment into similar business models. As one of the few things likely to relax the stranglehold of Western politicians and regulators on research and development, more medical tourism and overseas development is a good sign.
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