The stem cell products industry encompasses a diverse range of products and services. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all of the specialized embryonic tissues. In adult humans, stem and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells. Since the discovery of stem cells more than 30 years ago, a robust market for stem cell products and services has emerged.
Stem cell products are bought by academic researchers, institutional researchers, and biotech companies, as well as pharma companies for drug development and discovery.
Categories of Products for Stem Cell Research
The complexity of stem cell technologies has led to substantial market diversity, with products for stem cell research now including:
- Stem Cell Lines
- Differentiated Cell Types Derived from Stem Cells
- Culture and Maintenance Products
- Growth Factors and Cytokines
- Characterization Services
- Primary Antibodies
- Fluorescent- and Bead-Based Analytical Tools
- Molecular Tools for Gene Regulation
- RNA and Protein Purification
- Imaging and Tracking Systems
These stem cell products can be sold as stand-alone products, product bundles, or as fully functional kits designed to facilitate each step of the research process.
Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research
Within the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invested an estimated $1.495 billion into stem cell research projects, spanning a wide range of fields from cell biology to electrical engineering.1
Internationally, stem cell research is supported by significant government investments, with the pharmaceutical industry and private sources contributing over $1.7 billion dollars annually.2
Trends in Stem Cell Product Development
Therapies utilizing adult stem cell types are multiplying quickly, lead by more than one-thousand MSC therapies being tested in clinical trials within humans. However, pluripotent stem cell therapies (those derived from iPSCs and ESCs) largely remain in preclinical or early clinical development.
Currently, there are only two induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) clinical trials underway.
One iPSC trial is being pursued by Cynata Therapeutics, an Australian regenerative medicine company that is testing an iPSC-derived MSC product called CYP-001 for the treatment of Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD).
The other iPSC trial involves iPSC-derived retinal layers for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. This trial is being conducted by the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan.
Stem Cell Research Products
With the long timeline required for the development of stem cell therapeutics, the stem cell industry has been heavily propelled by the development and manufacture of stem cell research products. The market for stem cell research tools includes cells, reagents, media, kits, and consumables, as well as a variety of other products.
There are also companies involving with supporting industrial-scale production of stem cell products, using bioreactors and 3D manufacturing systems.
The types of companies competing within the stem cell market include:
- Stem cell therapy companies – For example, Mesoblast, Cynata Therapeutics, and Steminent Biotherapeutics, among others.
- Companies specializing industrial-scale production and manufacturing of stem cells and differentiated cell types – For example, Cellular Dynamics International (a Fujifilm company) for iPSCs and RoosterBio for MSCs.
- Companies specializing in stem cell research tools – For example, STEMCELL Technologie specializes in the development and sale of stem cell research products.
- Large, diversified suppliers of stem cell research tools – For example, Thermo Fisher Scientific, BD Biosciences, and Miltenyi Biotec provide a broad range of research supply products to support stem cell research and other applications.
Growth in Stem Cell Research
Growth of the market for stem cell products can be attributed to increased acceptance of stem cell technologies, as well as recognition of the potential for regenerative medicine to reduce globally escalating healthcare costs.
Rising healthcare costs is one of the key factors driving investment into stem cell products and therapies on a global scale Within Japan, the Education Ministry has plans to spend 110 billion yen ($1.13 billion) on induced pluripotent stem cell research during the next 10 years. The Japanese parliament has also been discussing bills that would “speed the approval process and ensure the safety of such treatments.”
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1 Report.nih.gov,. “NIH Categorical Spending -NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (Report)”.
2 BioInformant.com,. “Stem Cell Research Products – Opportunities, Tools, & Technologies”. N.p., 2020.