South Korea Steps Up Stem-Cell Work
The South Korean health ministry announced that research into stem cells and regenerative medicine will receive a funding boost of 33 billion won (U.S. $29 million) in 2012, four times that given in 2011. Overall, six different ministries will invest 100 billion won in stem-cell research this year. Until last year, public investment in stem cells in South Korea was relatively low and targeted mainly at basic research. But the country’s Ministry of Health and Welfare is now expanding its support for clinical research on stem cells, with the money being used to link basic research to intermediate or clinical studies. The aim is to commercialize the research at an early stage.
The government money will be allocated to two areas: rare or incurable diseases for which there is little incentive for private investment, such as spinal cord damage; and common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, for which the aim is to help South Korean companies to capture part of the large potential market for treatments.