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Replacing insulin is top-ranked breakthrough foreseen for health in developing world

Eliminating the need for costly insulin injections for diabetics, regenerating heart muscle after it fails, and improving resistance to disease by engineering immune cells top a list of 10 potential breakthroughs for health in developing countries seen emerging from the new world of regenerative medicine, according to a study published today in the prestigious journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine.

Conducted by University of Toronto researchers (from the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine, the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health, and the U of T Joint Centre for Bioethics), the study says regenerative medicine has the potential to help developing countries address a suite of disastrous health problems, foremost among them a diabetes epidemic.

However, the study notes that in developed countries, where most of the cutting-edge science research occurs today, health-related priorities differ greatly from those of developing countries, which therefore should develop their own expertise and capacity.

"Though largely neglected by the field of regenerative medicine to date, we suggest that developing countries could potentially benefit from advances in regenerative medicine to address the epidemic of non-communicable disease and other pressing health needs," the authors say.

Regenerative medicine combines know-how from diverse disciplines to repair, replace or regenerate cells, tissues or organs impaired by congenital defects, disease, trauma and other causes. It moves beyond traditional transplant and replacement therapies to include the use of stem cells, soluble molecules, genetic engineering, tissue engineering, and advanced cell therapy.

There is increasing research in regenerative medicine in both developed and developing countries. Already regenerative medicine has produced a skin substitute (Apligraf), a bone regenerating therapy (Osteocel) and other medical breakthroughs. An eye institute in Ind
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Source:University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics


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