Stem-cell research could have an enormous impact on the burden of disease in the developing world, according to a new study.
Eliminating the need for costly insulin injections for diabetics, regenerating heart muscle after it fails, and improving resistance to disease by engineering immune cells topped a list of developing-country health scourges that could be combated through developments in regenerative medicine.
The list, developed by researchers at the University of Toronto, appears in the September issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.
Stem-cell research has enormous potential to help the world’s poor, but only if it is directed toward developing-world priorities — which are often very different than those in industrialized countries, the researchers write.
The research priorities on the list were ranked based on the criteria of burden, impact, feasibility, affordability, acceptability and indirect benefits.
Technologies for treating skin loss due to burns, wounds, and diabetic ulcers — common low-income-country ailments — was named the fourth priority.
Biocompatible blood substitutes for transfusion requirements, which would address blood shortages and alleviate concerns about HIV and other contaminants, were fifth on the list.