Keywords: regenerative medicine, developing countries, global health equity, double burden, stem cells, tissue engineering, gene therapy, organ replacement, innovative capacity, innovation, non-communicable diseases, health needs, biotechnology
Regenerative medicine: new opportunities for developing countries
There has been a major shift in burden of disease in developing countries. Although traditionally associated with industrialised nations, epidemic levels of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, now threaten the developing world and are straining health systems that are still struggling with persisting levels of infectious disease. Developing countries need innovative and affordable ways of dealing with this 'double burden'. The emerging field of regenerative medicine may provide new opportunities to address these health needs if employed with the goal of improving global health equity. Several developing countries themselves have recognised the potential of regenerative medicine and have initiated Research and Development work in this field. We present here the results of a survey of regenerative medicine activities in developing countries, and argue that domestic Science and Technology capacity building and innovation in regenerative medicine can help developing countries to harness its benefits towards low-cost solutions for some of their most pressing health needs.