Cleft lip disorder, rice projects get B40m

Two scientists from Chulalongkorn University and Kasetsart University have been granted a total of 40 million baht for stem cell research into helping people with the cleft lip and cleft palate disorders, and for improving rice strains.

The National Science and Technology Development Agency has approved funding of 20 million baht each for Prasit Pavasant, head of the Mineralised Tissue Research Unit of Chulalongkorn University's dentistry faculty for the stem cell project and to Apichart Vanavichit, head of Kasetsart University's mutated rice development efforts.

Dr Prasit said the study into dental stem cells for bone and periodontium tissue engineering is advanced technology aimed at curing patients who have the cleft lip and cleft palate abnormality. He said stem cells from a patient's teeth can be used to repair the bone causing the abnormality.

The project has received funding of 20 million baht which covers a five-year-period.

"We have found that one in every 600 people in the the Northeast suffers from the abnormality, which is the highest rate in the country. Stem cell technology can help."

For rice strain development, Mr Apichart said his team will use the Pinkaset rice strain as a base to mix with mutated varieties such as water-resistant rice which can help crops withstand flooding and provide higher levels of iron which will be more healthy. The rice being developed is being called "super rice".

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Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Position: Reporter