Regenerative medicine refers to the concept of replacing cells that are damaged or have died with new cells that treat or cure disease, bypassing the pharmaceutical route.
Regenerative medicine offers the possibility of replacing damaged or diseased cells and tissues. The excitement is that cures, not just palliative treatments, are promised by this medicine.
Such is the excitement generated and the untapped potential of this technology, Business Communications Company's market research report: "B-153R Stem Cells and Progenitor Cell Therapy: Current Uses and Future Potential," estimate worldwide revenues for cell and cytokine therapies in regenerative medicine to be $12.7 billion in 2005.
This market is expected to expand to $20.7 billion in 2010, an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 10.3 per cent.
There are two major approaches to regenerative medicine. One is to cause stem or progenitor cells within the patient to expand and differentiate to the cell or tissue type of interest by the use of specific protein cytokines or growth factors.
The other is to isolate cells from a donor and then inject or transplant them to a patient. Alternatively, stem cells can be isolated from the patient, manipulated in vitro and then re-introduced to the patient.
Currently, peripheral blood stem cells that require the mobilisation of stem cells from the bone marrow to the blood by the use of a specific cytokine, granulocyte colony stimulating factor (Neupogen) is the most widely used form of treatment.
The same cytokine is used to accelerate recovery of the blood and immune system from the effects of chemotherapy.
The report highlights the use of stem and cytokine therapies in medicine, which despite the recent advances, is still highly concentrated in the blood and immune system.
In addition to cytokines, significant revenues from this category include fees charged to isolate and store umbilical cord blood, which is rich in hematopoietic stem cells.
These are used in place of bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants. There is hope that umbilical cord stem cells can do more than provide a hematopoietic function, but this has yet to be definitively proven.
Stem cell populations can also be selectively increased by culture of cord blood or bone marrow cells in vitro.
The report said that worldwide revenues for stem cell, cytokine and growth factor therapies that treat the blood and immune systems were expected to reach $19.7 billion in 2010 as the market grew at an AAGR 9.7 per cent through 2010.
Other emerging areas include treatments for degenerative neural diseases, heart conditions, hair regeneration, teeth regeneration, cornea, liver, kidney, reproductive medicine, etc.
Little has been commercialised to date in these areas and the report predicted that a potentially lucrative business would be the replacement of islet cells in diabetics- an area that has been a graveyard for cell therapy companies in the past.
Most of these departed companies had hoped to use encapsulated cells from pigs or other animals. There is now hope that cells derived from human stem cells will yet accomplish the task.
Beyond the blood and immune system, the report expected a little over $1 billion in revenues worldwide for stem cell, cytokine and growth factor therapies for all other bodily systems, growing at an average annual growth rate of 26.4 per cent through 2010.