Stem cell therapy will redefine regenerative medicine, says F&S

Globally, this market is expected to be worth US$40bn by 2020 and $180bn by 2030

As the global healthcare industry faces the challenges of expensive treatments and treatments that are palliative rather than symptomatic, healthcare providers are starting to look towards regenerative medicine as a viable alternative.

Regenerative medicine has the potential to resolve unmet medical needs by addressing the underlying causes of diseases.

Jane Andrews, Senior Consultant, Healthcare & Life Sciences at Frost & Sullivan, says regenerative medicine has the potential to cure diseases like we have never seen before and because of this, the market, especially in the area of stem cell therapy, will continue to experience positive growth, boosted by support from other sectors.

'Regenerative medicine initiatives are now attracting new public and private funding. Although stem cell therapy will continue to be the largest market segment of regenerative medicine, cross segment therapies that combine the use of immunology, genetic and stem cell therapy are rapidly advancing,' she said.

Regenerative medicine has also been an area of interest for major pharma companies, many of which have set up their own R&D units or have invested in regenerative medicine companies. These include Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Teva.

Although stem cell therapy will continue to be the largest market segment of regenerative medicine, cross segment therapies that combine immunology, genetic and stem cell therapy are rapidly advancing

Cell therapy is the fastest-growing segment of regenerative medicine and also the largest. Globally, this market is expected to be worth US$40bn by 2020 and $180bn by 2030, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The largest number of marketed cell therapy products is used for the treatment of non-healing wounds/skin (46%) and muscular-skeletal injuries (35%). This trend will change as more and stem cell therapy products for cancer and heart disease complete their clinical trials and are approved for market release, the market research company says.

Factors that are driving stem cell manufacturing in the short term include ageing populations in need of alternative medicine and in the long term, new evidence that stem cell therapy works. But an area of concern in the immediate future and long term remains the lack of early stage funding and the inherent variability in 'living cells' culture and manufacturing.

The Asia-Pacific stem cell market was valued at $7.10bn in 2014 and is projected to increase to $18.71bn by 2018 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.3%.

Sanjeev Kumar, Consultant, Growth Partnership Services, Healthcare, Frost & Sullivan, Asia Pacific attributes the positive growth in the region to strong support from the industry and the opportunities arising from stem cell therapies. These include contract research outsourcing and rising patient populations with neurological and other chronic conditions in the region. Japan, Singapore and South Korea are the frontrunners and are set to dominate the Asia-Pacific stem cell market in the coming years.

Japan is taking the global lead in promoting stem cell research for addressing conditions such as Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and cardiovascular disorders. In 2013, the Japanese government announced funding of $1.12bn for stem cell research on a stem cell type that is free from ethical concerns over embryo harvesting.

With some success in commercialising stem cell therapy products for an open market matched by strong government support for R&D, South Korea's regenerative market is a prime area for growth, with key opportunities identified in stem cell therapy for adult and embryonic stem cells. These together with other drivers are on track to make South Korea one of the top three regenerative medicine markets by 2020.

Singapore is considered a haven for stem cell research, owing to its biomedical freedom in terms of favourable laws and strong government funding.

In addition, the country has a well-organised funding system in place for stem cell research which ensures that public and private funding are evenly divided among companies and researchers. Singapore has also formed partnerships with the US FDA, UK Stem Cell Foundation, and corporate venture funds such as Novartis.

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