Stem cell therapy continues to rally worldwide recognition as governments fund research and expand access. This once-controversial therapy is fast becoming one of medicine’s most exciting technologies. From FDA-approved therapies to in-house, physician-initiated autologous techniques, stem cell technology continues to evolve. 2021 promises to be an exciting year for the stem cell market.
Here’s everything you need to know about the future of this revolutionary therapy.
The Stem Cell Market in 2021 and Beyond
Government and private funding is the main engine behind stem cell therapy’s persistent growth. Robust research has led to advances in all types of regenerative therapies, with stem cell technology at the forefront.
If anybody doubts the future of stem cells, they should look at their soaring market potential. Here are the top nine driving forces behind the stem cell market’s accelerating momentum.
1. Oncology Applications
While treating cancer with stem cells is not new, the field of cancer treatment is where stem cell therapy excels.
With an aging population comes a global rise in cancer rates. While stem cell therapy can help treat certain forms of cancer, it has also proved helpful in combating the damaging effects of chemotherapy.
For over 50 years, hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT) derived from bone marrow or cord blood have been used to treat many cancer forms.
Hematopoietic stem cells are widely used in cancer treatments. The key to their popularity? Their ability to form a variety of cell types that constitute our blood and immune system.
Bone marrow transplants have been used to treat cancers such as:
- Multiple myeloma
- Lymphoma (certain types)
Also, scientists and clinicians are learning how to better genetically match and administer these cells, as well as care for patients after stem cell transplantation. The result is the prevention of dangerous conditions like graft versus host disease (GvHD).
Dermatology is another area that lends itself to stem cell adoption.
Autologous epidermal stem cells can treat various types of skin conditions, including severe burns. Renovacare’s Skin Gun™ is an example of a technology that uses the patient’s own skin as a stem cell source.
A doctor can take a sample of a patient’s skin and place it in the Skin Gun™. The device “blends” the sample into a solution, which then can be sprayed as a thin mist on the affected area.
The result is that the burn area readily accepts the genetically-similar sample and can go about regenerating skin locally.
Other dermatology conditions that can make use of stem cell therapy include wound healing, treatment of severe blistering, and skin manifestations of autoimmune diseases.
3. Regenerative Medicine
Stem cell therapy is, by definition, regenerative. But what about its applications for overall human longevity?
If you want to get a glimpse into what the future holds for stem cell therapy, consider that stem cells may hold the key to staving off chronic disease as well as replacing old organs.
The net result? A drastically-slowed rate of aging and an average life expectancy well into one’s 80s (and beyond).
It is said that the first human who will live to two hundred has already been born. Stem cell technology will undoubtedly play a large role in the long life of future generations.
Read more about stem cell therapy’s anti-aging potential.
4. Genetically Modified Stem Cells
CRISPR technology’s ability to precisely modify a cell’s genetic code may prove the next giant leap in disease treatment and prevention.
Genetic modification of a typical cell is revolutionary enough. But to modify an undifferentiated cell, such as a stem cell, can lead to advancements like regenerating an entire immune system.
Take CAR-T cell therapies, for example. Thanks to CRISPR technologies, genetically modified stem cells can be differentiated into other mature cell types, like T cells. And if T cells, then why not a wider array of lymphocytes?
5. Disease Modeling
Stem cells are being used to create disease models that can more rapidly accelerate cures. One of the key uses of stem cells currently is to help researchers understand more about complex diseases.
For example, scientists have been using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients with ALS and differentiating them into diseased motor neurons. This approach sometimes makes a “disease in a dish” (a lab dish, that is).
6. Sustainable Meat Sources
Stem cells are being used to produce laboratory-grown meat products, also known as “clean meat.”
Meat production for human consumption is one of the biggest factors in global warming. Sustainably-produced meat is becoming more of a necessity every year.
Stem cells are being used in bioprinting. In this application, stem cells are “seeded” onto 3D printed materials to create a wide variety of biomaterials, including organs, appendages, and skin.
As we work toward non-donor organ replacement (i.e., lab-grown organs), stem cells are likely to play a central role.
Keep an eye out for hospitals using stem cell therapy in conjunction with surgical procedures. Stem cells’ inherent healing properties make them a likely candidate for use in many types of surgeries.
For example, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exert anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic (anti-scarring) effects on the cells around them. They also help to regulate a healthy immune response. Thus, it would be logical to administer them during many surgical procedures to support better healing.
Stem cells, particularly mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are being used to treat COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 attacks the respiratory, immune, and nervous system and the epithelial lining directly, MSCs show promise in system-wide management of the disease.
The Stem Cell Market (And Its Emerging Potential)
As the COVID-19 vaccine development has shown the world, monumental progress is possible when the global innovation is facilitated and rewarded.
As government and private funding continues to flow into the realm of stem cell research, the stem cell market will undoubtedly continue to prove its potential. What do you think is the future of the stem cell market? Share your projections in the comments below.