State to increase investment in stem cell research
By Yun Suh-young
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Thursday that more government money will be put into developing new techniques to treat rare and hard to cure diseases.
The government will invest 33 billion won in stem cell research and regenerative medical treatment this year. This is four times as much as last year’s sum.
With the increased funding, the government will expand the research field to practical research and development which can verify the effectiveness and safety of stem cell treatments. Until now, studies had been only focused on basic research areas.
“Regenerative medical treatment techniques utilizing stem cells is a promising field that has high industrial value. Not only do people have high interest in it but it also provides the possibility of fundamental treatment of rare and hard to cure diseases that have been difficult to treat with current medical techniques,” said an official from the ministry.
The ministry expects Korea’s medical techniques to gain competitiveness in the world if the government effectively invests in the research.
“Our country has stem cell and regenerative treatment techniques that rank among the top 10 in the world. If more support is given by the government, it can top the world rankings,” said a ministry official.
The two main areas the government funding will be allocated to are public ones in which investment is most urgent (such as rare and hard to cure diseases), and those that have highly competitive techniques that can facilitate the development of global markets.
The rare and hard to cure diseases include those that don’t have a known recovery method or that cannot expect the development of a medical cure. Studies will also be conducted into spinal injuries that can cause permanent disabilities. The areas that can facilitate the development of global markets are frequent and chronic diseases that need various treatment methods include arthritis, musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
“Through active investment in the research of stem cell and regenerative treatment, we will blaze a trail on rare and hard to cure diseases and build a foundation to industrialize the field into a high value growth engine,” the ministry said through a press release.