An Indian news article caught my eye today:
Reliance Life Sciences (RLS), the pioneer of embryonic stem cell research in the country, is likely to launch its first stem cell-based therapies for [neurodegenerative] diseases, including Parkinson's and ocular diseases and spinal cord injury soon.
Considering the successful completion of the pre-clinical and clinical studies with due regulatory approval in another six months to one year period, these novel therapies are likely to be launched in the country by the end of next year, sources from the company said.
"As far as the embryonic stem cell group is concerned, a few of them are in the pre-clinical stage and the results are quite promising. We expect that most of our research efforts into the area of stem cells and regenerative medicines, including tissue engineering and molecular diagnostics, will reach the commercial stage in a year or two," said K V Subramaniam, head, Reliance Life Sciences.
Reliance Life Sciences is a well-backed operation by the look of it; I imagine that this is the visible tip of the iceberg in terms of stem cell research in India - money to burn on PR and media strategies in addition to research. Even discounting optimism in their schedules, the projection of commercial regenerative medicine by the end of 2007 is very good news for the field. If large Indian concerns are at this point, then other similar groups around the world are certainly looking at the same sort of schedule.
India suffers under a fairly heavy hand of government, with more than its share of destructive socialist policies and corruption. It may still be the case, however, that medical research and the commercialization of new medical technologies is not as held back as it is in the US - meaning that Indian politicians haven't yet introduced anything as monumentally terrible as the present FDA. I don't see anyone rolling out cell therapies based on embryonic stem cell research in the US by the end of 2007.
As I've said before, this sort of competition from different regions - quickly leading to large-scale medical tourism from those parts of the world that fall behind - is probably the best short-term hope to slow the ongoing destruction-by-regulation of the medical research and commercialization infrastructure in the US.
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