A new report by market research company MarketsandMarkets projects that the cell expansion industry will grow to $18.76 billion worldwide by the year 2021 at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6 per cent from 2016 to 2021, driven by increases in government research funding, advances in the treatment of chronic diseases through stem cell therapy and an overall spike in demand for cell-based products from leading biotechnology companies such as Vancouver, B.C.’s STEMCELL Technologies Inc.
Regenerative medicines, cancer research and cell-based therapies are all expected to push the demand for available stem cells to new heights, with the human cells segment of the market forecasted to take up the largest share of the cell expansion market.
“Increasing investments by companies for the development of cell-based therapies are driving the growth of this market,” says the report. “End users included in the cell expansion market are research institutes, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, cell banks, and others.”
Cell expansion protocols have advanced rapidly during the past decade, but the process required to successfully generate new stem cells from a given starting population is still quite challenging, and with new research and therapeutic applications for stem cells literally being advanced on a daily basis, the future demand for cells is only expected to increase.
Angela Zimmermann of the Genetic Literacy Project says that the industry growth in stem cell applications is the result of years of work at the design and manufacturing level in areas such as tissue engineering, immunotherapy, cell reprogramming and genome editing. “It is from this ground that production processes for therapeutic stem cells are emerging like so many tender shoots,” says Zimmermann, “Ultimately, these processes will be scaled up and deployed widely, yielding a bumper crop of stem cell therapies.”
Canadian biotechnology companies are well-poised to be key players in the field of stem cell research and applications, thanks in part to a federal government that appears keen to create a stronger climate of innovation in the country.
The 2016 budget outlined $2 billion in new funding for a Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, with a $141 million increase to the Tri-Council research funding arm as well as $800 million over four years to develop new clusters of innovation and support small-scale companies.
The government is also putting up substantial funding for bioscience research groups such as Genome Canada ($237.2 million over four years), Mitacs ($14 million over two years), the Centre for Drug Research and Development ($32 million over two years) and the Brain Canada Foundation ($20 million over three years).
The Stem Cell Network, a 15-years running organization that connects scientists, clinicians, engineers and ethicists in stem cell research from across the country, was set to run out of funding this year before the budget announcement of $12 million in funding for the group.
“Canada’s stem cell community appreciates the recognition in Budget 2016 and looks forward to working with the Government as it builds its Innovation Agenda,” says James Price, President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. “The proposed strategy will improve the health of Canadians, leverage our unique history and incredible experience in this sector and secure Canadian leadership in the next wave of modern medicine.”