Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 00:31:00
KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will soon come up with a set of criteria or checklist for research on stem cells and cell-based therapies.
The director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the checklist would be distributed to various hospitals, universities and organisations soon.
He said the ministry was more concerned with stem cell therapies that were still in the development stage and these included stem cell treatment for heart failure, stroke, spinal cord injuries and organ failures.
"These forms of experimental stem cell therapies must be approved by an institutional research and ethics committee, and the use of cell-based therapies for these conditions must be done strictly in clinical trials," he added.
Ismail said treatment such as stem cell transplantation for leukaemia, lymphoma, some genetic conditions as well as solid tumours were already proven modalities.
"The number of patients receiving bone marrow and stem cell transplantation for leukaemia and solid tumours is on the rise," he said when launching a cancer treatment technology, Immunotherapy in the form of Autologous Immune Enhancement Therapy (AIET) by Nichi-Asia Life Science Sdn Bhd (NiSCELL), here, today.
Also present were NiSCELL chairman Datuk Dr Ridzwan Abu Bakar, its chief executive officer Vincent Chang, Dr Hiroshi Terunama from the Biotherapy Institute of Japan and deputy chef de mission Koichi Ito who represented Japanese ambassador to Malaysia, Masahiko Horie.
Ismail said Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Ampang Hospital, the National Blood Bank and Institute of Medical Research were among the government facilities involved in adult and paediatric stem cell transplant services to assist in patient care.
Meanwhile, Dr Ridzwan said, the AIET technology had been used in Japan for the last 20 years and it had been scientifically proven for the treatment of several cancers such as breast, prostate, sarcoma and lung cancer.
"We take stem cells from the patient and keep the cells in the laboratory to allow them to grow before they are injected into the patient to fight the cancer cells," he said, adding that the cost of the treatment was RM15,000 per dosage.
NiSCELL, a wholly-owned Malaysian biotech company using Japanese technologies, carries out research in immunotherapy and stem cell production.