Stem cell skincare product goes global

Singapore stem cell research company CellResearch Corp, which has a laboratory in Ayer Rajah Crescent, was founded by Mr Gavin Tan (left), Dr Phan Toan Thang and Dr Ivor Lim.
Singapore stem cell research company CellResearch Corp, which has a laboratory in Ayer Rajah Crescent, was founded by Mr Gavin Tan (left), Dr Phan Toan Thang and Dr Ivor Lim. PHOTO: CELLRESEARCH

Singapore stem cell research company CellResearch Corp intends to be a global leader in the skincare market.

Its skin enhancement product Calecim is based on its patented stem cell technology and has already notched up sales in the low seven figures since a soft launch six months ago.

The early success has given the company confidence to proceed with global sales of the product.

Group chief executive Gavin Tan said Calecim will hit the Thai and Taiwanese markets next.

The company is also setting up a distribution channel to sell in other markets, including the United States and Europe.

"The skin rejuvenation market will hit US$150 million (S$211 million) in the next two to three years. We're confident we can get a good slice of it," he told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Calecim is made from an umbilical extract which is a mix of proteins and nutrients obtained from the umbilical cord lining, a rich source of stem cells that have regenerative properties.

The nutrients are enhanced because CellResearch technology can cultivate six billion stem cells in one harvest. The nutrients, stripped of all stem cells, are then developed into the serum and cream that bear the Calecim brand.

CellResearch is ramping up production in its spanking new 3,000 sq feet laboratory in Ayer Rajah Crescent. This laboratory produces the serum from the nutrients, which are then made into Calecim products.

Founded in 2002, the firm is a pioneer and research leader in cord-lining stem cells and stem cell regenerative medicine and therapy.

The three founders, Mr Tan, Dr Phan Toan Thang and Dr Ivor Lim, funded the company in the early days of its inception.

Recently, CellResearch raised an undisclosed amount of funds from family and friends.

This eight-figure sum will be used for research and development as well as expanding Calecim's reach in the global market.

Calecim is one of three product lines. The others are cord-lining cell banking and the use of stem cell technology in advanced wound care. Mr Tan said Calecim is one of its key products and has been in the making for about seven years.

It is aiming for a slice of the growing cosmoceuticals market - cosmetics developed from scientific research - which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.

"From our perspective, the reputation of a Singapore-made product is good. Feedback from potential business partners is that a Singapore product is seen as of high quality and to be trusted. That's good for us," he said.

Dr Wally Chen, a doctor who has an aesthetic medical practice in Hong Kong, said Calecim has made his patients look younger, healthier and rejuvenated.

When the product is used on facial skin for four to six weeks, "the skin tone looks better, pigmentation is less and the fine lines and wrinkles are less visible".

Calecim is available from doctors and online at, and

Prices start from US$130.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline Stem cell skincare product goes global. Subscribe