Researchers in China, South Korea, and Singapore are testing the lead taken by Western countries in the field of stem cell research, according to members of a UK government mission.

In September 2004, the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sent a group of leading figures from the field of stem cell science on a 2-week trip to the three Asian countries to assess the quality of science being done and to evaluate possible commercial opportunities. "The challenge to Western pre-eminence in stem cell research from China, Singapore, and South Korea is real," the group's report concludes.

"It was high-quality science," says Cathy Prescott, from Avlar Bioventures. "There were clearly centers of excellence, particularly for somatic cell nuclear replacement."

The United Kingdom considers itself a leader in the stem cell research field, but some of the country's scientists fear that lead could be squandered because of inadequate funding. A...

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