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The New Revolution in Medicine: Stem Cell Therapy

In recent years, Malaysia has been seeing a boom in the cord blood stem cell banking industry as companies vie to provide facilities which promise great potential as the scientific community makes great strides in discovering cutting-edge treatment and breakthroughs in medicine through stem-cell research. However, many such companies have been noted to only provide storage facilities to house the amount of life-giving material known as stem cells, while depending on biomedical companies and institutions to provide solutions to the various life-threatening diseases plaguing the general populace. A Malaysian company has now managed to bridge this gap through the adaptation of Japanese technology and in-house research to meet the requirements of patients around the country and in the region.

Nichi-Asia Life Science Sdn Bhd is a Malaysian firm that aims to enhance current stem cell treatment practices in Malaysia by providing Autologous Immune Enhancement therapy (AIET) for cancer and stem cell-based therapies for a host of other ailments including Liver Cirrhosis, Heart diseases, Peripheral vascular diseases and Neurological illnesses such as Spinal cord injury. The company has been able to do so through close collaboration with the Biotherapy Institute of Japan through GN Corporation Ltd, Japan one of the leading technology companies in the country and Nichi-In Center of Regenerative Medicine, India (NCRM), to set up a laboratory facility in Kuala Lumpur. The collaboration will see the fulfillment of the use of stem cell in medicine in Malaysia, providing greater hope for terminal patients while allowing a better medical experience for many others.

Speaking to Dato Dr. A. Krishnamoorthy, CEO of Nichi Asia, it was possible to see the great potential that the technology could provide to patients around the country. AIET is currently a standard medical protocol in Japan which has been used since the 1990s, he says. It can be used in conjunction with other medical treatments or alone and has little side effects. The treatment involves the removal of immune cells from the body (NK cells and anti-cancer lymphocytes) which are then cultured and processed to be activated.


Dato Dr. A. Krishnamoorthy, CEO of Nichi !VAsia

The activation process allows the cells, antibodies, and organs of the immune system work to protect and defend the body against tumor cells. Upon encountering a tumor cell, the activated NK cell attaches to the membrane of the cancer cell and injects toxic granules that quickly dissolve the target cell. In less than five minutes, the cancer cell would be dead and the NK cell moves on to its next target. A single NK cell can destroy up to 27 cancer cells before it dies. Clinical protocol has shown that the immune system may also be capable of determining the difference between cancer and healthy cells, thus lowering the possibility of side effects during the treatment process. It is through such cutting-edge technology that Nichi-Asia was awarded Bionexus status by BiotechCorp last year.

The company is not only focusing on providing commercial services for the public, but is also strongly dedicated to developing its own research, while enhancing the biotechnology human capital for the country through its establishment of its research labs in Malaysia. The research labs have been designed with expert input from distinguished Japanese scientists Dr. Terunuma Hiroshi and Dr. Sam JK Abraham of the Biotherapy Institute of Japan and Yamanashi Medical University respectively and looks set to be one of the foremost stemcell research laboratories in the country.

We are currently following very closely in the developmental footsteps of NCRM through our collaboration with them,!¨ comments Dr. Krishnamoorty. The institution which started in September 2005 to date has managed to become the pioneers of immunotherapy for cancer treatment as well as stem cell treatment for diabetic ischmetic foot and spinal cord injury in India. Up to 300 patients have been treated through their stem cell therapy, with 2 publications and 10 clinical presentations at international meetings to date. They also count on seven collaborations with research institutes in India with two patents on stem cell applications among their jewels.

Dr. Krishnamoorty has great hopes for Nichi-Asia as he believes its unique edge allows it to have a great foothold in the country!|s industry. I believe that the development of the biotech industry relies on many factors, and I believe that we havesuch an edge as we are not only expanding in terms of commercial services but also doing cutting edge research and building up on human capital for the country.

On a larger scale, we hope that Nichi-Asia would also help Malaysia gain more ground in terms of developing medical tourism in Malaysia as we are currently the only such company in the region with this unique form of technology. We hope to be able to garner greater prominence and respect from the medical community on a local and international through our efforts.

- Courtesy Bhai's Community , Jan 2009 issue.
*"Nichi" stands for Japan and "In" stands for India. This institute started on an Indo-Japan collaboration now has spreaded further with global alliances
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