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Wed 6 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Stem cell research promises biotech boost for Dubai

A leading stem cell scientist has revealed plans to bring the final stages of her clinical research to Dubai's fledgling biotech industry.

A leading stem cell scientist has revealed plans to bring the final stages of her clinical research to Dubai's fledgling biotech industry.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Susan Lim, chairman of Stem Cell Technologies and the Centre for Robotic Surgery in Singapore, told Medical Times she was in talks with Dubai's Healthcare City to relocate her adult stem cell research to a laboratory in the emirate.

"We are looking for partnerships between Singapore and the health scene here," she said. "What we want to do is transfer technology - make it a two way relationship."

To date, Lim's laboratory has focused on extracting stem cells from fat tissue, but is now investigating their use in regenerative surgery.

Collaborative research is currently being conducted in Singapore, London and Australia, said Lim, but the company plans to finalise its clinical applications in Dubai.

"We are about 18 months from rolling this out so I think this is a very good time to take this to Dubai," she said.

"You hear so much about stem cells in the media but it really hasn't reached patients yet - I think it will have a major impact."

Lim believes bringing high-end research projects to Dubai in their latter stages can effectively give its immature biotech industry a much-needed shot in the arm.

"If you want to be at the cutting edge you want to be participating in research just before it hits clinical practice - once everyone else is doing it, it doesn't make an impact," she said.

With a nod to Singapore's robust medical tourism industry, she added; "Singapore doesn't want to be seen as just taking patients all the time - we want to make this a two-way thing."

"I want to bring really sexy topics like robotics and stem cells to Dubai - the infrastructure is here but what we want to do is transfer the know-how."

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