There is great interest in stem cells because they have potential to replace defective or damaged cells resulting from a variety of disorders and injuries, leading to a range of new regenerative therapies. Stem cells also have value as a research tool, as their in vitro study would allow scientists to learn more about the function of various organs and the development of particular diseases; stem cells may also eventually permit drug developers to test emerging therapies on diseased cells.
For market-watchers in the pharmaceutical industry, the question is what potential they have and where they could take the pharmaceutical market. New scientific developments and recent changes in the U.S. Federal government's policy towards stem cells have made this potential more relevant. Kalorama Information has tackled the question in Stem Cells: Worldwide Markets for Transplantation, Cord Blood Banking and Drug Development. Kalorama analyst Alison Sahoo has built models to determine the best, moderate and worst case scenarios for the three key markets for stem cells:
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The market for stem cell technologies will rise to over $700 million this year, and given some positive trends could reach over one billion dollars, according to healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information. The firm cites newly permitted US usage and accompanying research funding in its forecasts, published in its new report, Stem Cells: Worldwide Markets for Transplantation, Cord Blood Banking and Drug Development. Kalorama expresses a range for its market forecast because some factors are variable.
"Whether we see a worst case or best case scenario in the stem cell market depends on a number of factors," said Bruce Carlson, publisher for Kalorama Information. "A likely scenario is that developers will continue to expand the utilization of ethically acceptable adult stem cells, and that patents and royalty payments will not seriously inhibit financial incentives. We also anticipate that at least a portion of current technologies under development will prove safe, clear regulations and show substantial benefits over current therapies."
According to the report, cell therapies are now largely confined to a few conditions, especially oncological conditions such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, although certain non-cancerous diseases like aplastic anemia, immunodeficiency and lupus are also increasingly addressed with stem cells. Kalorama finds that cord blood banking is also a source of revenue growth. With a readily available supply of stem cells that does not require yet-to-be developed technologies to utilize, umbilical cord blood is one of the least controversial sources of stem cells and many people support the notion of routinely collecting cord blood at birth.
The United States had been among the most vocal countries in its opposition to embryonic cell research, with several bills vetoed during the 2000 to 2007 period that would have loosened restrictions on federal funding. In 2009, the Obama Administration issued Executive Order 13505, "Removing Barriers to Responsible Research Involving Human Stem Cells," which explicitly set out to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research. As a result, NIH stem cell research funding from 2003 through 2010 has steadily increased, particularly in the past two years.
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