Accepted paper:

Cultivating stem cell ventures: clinical trials and the makings of Vietnamese bio-entrepreneurs

Author:

Marina Marouda (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is concerned with biomedical technologies and the entrepreneurial ways through which these vital technologies come to life. Focusing on Việt Nam it traces the enterprising, complex and networking ways through which stem cell research is transformed into profitable applications.

Paper long abstract:

Biotechnology has, in recent years, become a key growth industry on a global scale, promising economic and social benefits. The paper is concerned with biomedical technologies and the entrepreneurial ways through which these vital technologies come to life. Focusing on Việt Nam, an emerging frontier in Asian biotechnology, it traces the enterprising, complex and networking ways through which stem cell research and applications take place. The paper focuses on stem cell 'clinical trials' and examines the networked ways through which research processes are turned into entrepreneurial ventures. Of particular concern are network partnerships involving public bodies, policy makers and private interests that facilitate the process of turning clinical experiments into vetted therapies, which can subsequently become commercially available. A recently completed state-sponsored 'trial' that failed to produce any conclusive results, provides an interesting ethnographic case to consider. Despite inconclusive clinical results and the uncertain effects of stem cell applications, this process of clinical experimentation gave rise to two separate stem cell businesses. The ethnographic case presented here seeks to add to anthropological reflections on emerging 'bioeconomies' and the ways in which human biological materials are being turned into a commodities, by shifting the focus of attention from the production of 'biovalue' as rooted in the future and the promise of cure towards tracing the processes through which biomedical enterprises and science-based industries take shape in the present.

panel P25
Biomedicine, entrepreneurship and future ecologies of health care