AFP reports that some Korean doctors are hoping to turn Korea's current position at the vanguard of pioneering stem cell therapy into an opportunity for the country to become a "medical tourism" destination for foreigners unable to find cures in the own countries.
According to AFP, two foreigners have already received therapy at South Korean medical firm Histostem, which has perfected a method of stem cell therapy using umbilical cord blood and boasts the biggest stock of cord blood and stem cells in the world.
With South Korea's medical facilities boasting both high-tech and low cost (relative to treatment in countries like the United States), the potential for medical tourism is high, and not just for pioneering or unproven technologies.
But back to the story at hand. Despite some skepticism over the therapy, Histostem is hoping to build a hospital on the southern island of Cheju-do, already known for gambling, water sports, and volcano hikes. They already have a large plot of land and hope to complete construction by 2007, depending on when and why type of legislation Cheju-do passes to provide incentives for companies to move there.
For those of you who don't remember your high school biology, stem cells refer to master cells found in embryos and other areas of the body that can develop into cells of any organ. Their potential therapeutic benefit has been touted for years, and experts say it is possible that stem-cell therapies may be useful in treating illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. But of course, nothing is certain.
Read the article for details on the firm's claimed success, along with critics who say this is not yet proven.
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