Countries, Medical Tourism, Law: A Research Project for the Open Cures Initiative

I am looking for volunteers to undertake some light, spare-time research for Open Cures:

An open volunteer initiative that aims to speed the advent of biotechnologies that can slow down or repair aspects of the biological damage of aging and thus extend healthy human life. Our primary long-term goal is to bring together (a) promising but undeveloped biotechnologies of longevity and (b) the developers who can bring them to the clinic.

The Open Cures roadmap looks a way past the present foundational work (website, writing, organizational details, and so forth) and past the forthcoming efforts to build a repository of documentation for longevity-enhancing biotechnologies. Beyond all of that lies a process of building relationships with the medical tourism industry and developers outside the US. At present I have just as little an idea of the fine details of that process as you do - but discovery is half the challenge in building any initiative.

This is where research and volunteers come into the picture. There is a great deal of very useful information out there in various websites and publications that I would like to see assembled into one place - or at least the references to it all assembled in one place. This is light research work that any smart person with an internet connection can undertake, and it can take place in parallel to other foundational work for Open Cures - and be accomplished piecemeal by many different people. Many hands make light work.

Thus I am looking for volunteers to take on the assembly the following data, and other items that logically follow on from it, for as many different countries as make sense to look at. This may be a case of cleverly finding out that someone in the medical tourism industry has done much of this work already, but I think there's a little more to it than that. To my mind the eligible countries include much of the Asia-Pacific region, India, and a few others - but validating that list with real numbers is one of the tasks on the table.

The state of medical tourism

How many people travel to this country for medical procedures on a yearly basis, and how does that compare with historical data? Are there estimates for the market value of this medical tourism? Is there data broken down by types of procedures and institutions?

Noteworthy organizations and advocates in the field of medical tourism

Who is leading the charge in growing medical tourism to this country? Which organizations and advocates are prominent, both in the US and in the other country?

Conferences and trade shows

Where does the medical tourism industry focused on this country gather when they come together? Are there established conference series, either in the US or overseas? Are these general conferences, or focused on this particular country?

The state of investment into medical research

How much public and private investment into medical research takes place in this country? How does that break down by field of medicine?

Noteworthy developers and medical tourism destinations

Who are the leaders in offering new medical technologies for medical tourism in this country? What procedures do they specialize in? What is their background and how are they funded? For example, see Beike Biotech in China.

Existing international arrangements

Are there already examples of international cooperation between local developers in this country and developers or research groups in the US or Europe? For example, see Vescell/TheraVitae which offers stem cell treatments in Thailand, but is a Canadian and Israeli company. Countries and regions where there are existing arrangements will likely prove easier to nudge into producing new ones.

Legal environment

To what degree are developers in this country legally bound by various forms of intellectual property in the US? To what degree does that matter on a practical basis? Is there a lot of scofflaw development taking place, for example? The legal details are likely to be quite different for copyright, patents (and international patents), trademarks, and other distinct forms of intellectual property.

Other important matters

How does the country rank in safety for US tourism, local bureaucratic corruption, and items that will factor into its attractiveness as a destination?

One of the near term items on my to-do list for Open Cures is to set up a wiki to better allow people to incrementally contribute this sort of information. As data like this is assembled, it will be posted and made available as a resource to inform later decisions and relationship building exercises.

If you are interested in helping with this part of the Open Cures agenda, please sign up for the discussion group and let us know.


Well thought idea. Including India in the list of countries for medical tourism is appropriate. India has recorded many cases of long-lives in various historical renderings in the forms of puranas, itihasas etc.,. The sad part is, the ways and means of living long were kept highly encoded.

Posted by: K S BALAJI at May 31st, 2011 9:32 AM

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