Saturday, May 23, 2009

Room for growth in stem cell research market

An old article from the Star in April 2008...

Malaysia's stem cell research and therapy market is estimated to be worth US$157mil, said Malaysian Biotechnology Corp Sdn Bhd (BiotechCorp) chief executive officer Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood.

He said although the penetration rate for stem cell research and therapy was still small, the potential of the sector was huge, with year-on-year growth rate estimated at about 12%.

“The numbers will be much more in the next five to 10 years. The growth and success of the biotechnology sector hinges on our success in expanding capability and competency of our people in biotechnology,” he said after the launch of the Stem Cells Operational & Professional Excellence (Scope) programme by Stempeutics Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd yesterday.

Stempeutics is a subsidiary of India-based Manipal Education & Medical Group. It aims to promote stem cell activities in Malaysia with focus on research, therapeutics and therapy in the field of regenerative medicine.

Under Scope, Stempeutics will train 15 Malaysian employees at its facilities in Bangalore, India in preparation for the commencement of Stempeutics world-class stem cell lab at Technology Park Malaysia next month.

“We have an ambitious target of expanding the pool of knowledge workers in biotechnology from 40,000 in 2011 to 80,000 by 2015. Thus the Scope programme is key for us to continue closing the gap,” he said, adding that the country still lagged behind China, India, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore in terms of number researchers.

Iskandar said apart from Stempeutics, there were a few more companies in Malaysia undertaking stem cell therapy due to the rising global interest in regenerative medicine.

Stempeutics president B N Manohar said the company had planned to set up multiple labs in Malaysia. “To date we have invested about RM6mil for our first lab but we see the need for two more labs. This will cost about RM30mil in the next three to four years.”

The next batch of Scope training would be in Malaysia and the trainee headcount would grow to 45 people in the next 12 to 24 months.

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