KUALA LUMPUR: EXISTING guidelines on stem cell research are sufficient to regulate the industry and the Health Ministry sees no need for a stem cell Act for now.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said guidelines on stem cell research were clear and were drafted with the help of stakeholders, including religious bodies.
He said the ministry had produced four guidelines:
* National Guidelines for Haemopoietic Stem Cell Therapy;
* National Standards for Cord Blood Banking and Transplantation;
* National Standards for Stem Cell Transplantation; and
* Guidelines on Stem Cell Research and Therapy
"We hope researchers follow these guidelines. The ministry does not intend to introduce any Act yet," he said after officiating the First National Stem Cell Congress here yesterday.
Liow said guidelines would be enough to provide a sound and ethical environment for researchers to carry out work. He said the public should also be informed of stem cell services available and be aware that stem cell research here was encouraging.
"In 2009 alone, 213 haemopoitic stem cell transplants were performed and registered in the country," he said.
"The majority of them were performed in public and university hospitals," said Liow, pointing out the number had increased since then.
“There were 11 Haemopoietic transplant centres performing haemopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT) in Malaysia and we are looking at more centres to perform this transplant,” he said.
Besides the services provided, Malaysia performed stem cell research and was encouraging private institutions and hospitals to conduct their own research.
“Stem cell therapy in Malaysia was developing well in Health Ministry's hospitals as well as university hospitals," he said
“A number of patients receiving bone marrow and stem cell transplantation for leukaemia and solid tumours were indicated to be increasing in numbers.
“We encourage them (researchers) to carry out clinical trials. They just need to notify the Health Ministry. We need researches to notify the Health Ministry so that we can assist them.
“We are not stopping them. We are going to guide them." Liow who was speaking after he launched the First National Stem Cell Congress in Istana Hotel, Kuala Lumpur yesterday.