Stem cell research to see double-digit growth over next five years

But BCC Research report suggests 'off-the-shelf' stem cell therapies are still a long way off

Although products based on stem cells have yet to form an established market, unlike some other potential applications of bioscience, stem cell technology has already produced a number of significant products in important therapeutic areas, says a new report from BCC Research.

The market research firm reveals in its new report, The Global Market for Stem Cells, that scientists across the globe are using stem cells to achieve new outcomes that will mark a major shift in drug discovery and the medicine world.

Stem cells are the first cells formed when an egg and a sperm join and the resultant zygote begins to divide. They are the precursors of all the different types of cells that make up the body. They are characterised by self-renewal – that is, the capacity to continue dividing to make ever larger populations of stem cells – and the capacity to differentiate into any mature cell type when they receive appropriate chemical instructions.

Several broad categories of stem cells exist, including: embryonic (derived from blastocysts), foetal (obtained from aborted foetuses), adult (found in adult tissues), cord blood (isolated from umbilical tissue), cancer (which give rise to clonal populations of cells that form tumours or disperse in the body) and animal (derived from non-human sources).

The global stem cell market is projected to grow from about $6.7bn this year to nearly $12.3bn in 2021, registering a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1% for the period, forecasts the report.

In the Americas, the market should reach $2.3bn and $4.1bn in 2016 and 2021, respectively, on a five-year CAGR of 12.1%.

In Asia, the stem cell market is expected to total $1.5bn and $2.9bn in 2016 and 2021, respectively, reflecting a five-year CAGR of 14.2%.

The stem cell field has already opened up a market with three major components: stem cell therapies, research and services serving stem cell companies and institutions, and cord blood banking services.

But stem cell therapies are still at an early stage of development; the underlying science is still being explored and until researchers have a more comprehensive knowledge of the field, the era of 'off-the-shelf' stem cell therapies will not materialise, the report suggests.

For now, stem cell therapy is operated on a per-patient basis, with one notable exception: autografting of bone marrow stem cells for haematological malignancies. This is already a well-established practice. It is, however, expensive and therefore prevalent mainly in affluent nations and classes.

'Recent technical advances in the field have enabled the in vitro generation of complex structures resembling whole organs, termed “organoids”,' says BCC Research analyst Paul Evers.

'Most approaches use three-dimensional (3D) culture systems that allow stem cell-derived or tissue progenitor cells to self-organise into 3D structures. Since organoids can be grown from human stem cells and from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells, they create significant prospects for modelling development and diseases, for toxicology and drug discovery studies, and in the field of regenerative medicine.'

The report analyses the regulatory environment, healthcare policies, demographics, and other factors affecting stem cell-related markets. Analyses of global market drivers and trends, with data from 2014, 2015, estimates for 2016 and projections of CAGRs to 2021 are also provided.