Stem cells are a type of human cells that give rise to the various types of cells found in the human body. Stem cells hold the potential to evolve into various types of human tissue, which has led to a growing acknowledgement of the obvious medical potential of this property. Stem cell therapy is becoming increasingly common in the treatment of various diseases and the increasing research in the field is expected to further drive the medical applications of stem cells in the coming years.
According to Transparency Market Research, government support is expected to be crucial in the global stem cells market’s expected rise from a 2013 valuation of US$26.3 bn to a valuation of US$119.5 bn by 2018. The market is expected to exhibit a robust 24.2% CAGR between 2012 and 2018.
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What are the major advances in the field of stem cells and their medical application?
In July 2016, a joint Dutch-Canadian research effort succeeded in discovering a viable method of increasing the amount of stem cells obtained from cord blood. Cord blood, which is blood from the placenta, contains a relatively small amount of stem cells per unit. The method formulated in the research allows researchers to increase the amount of stem cells obtained from cord blood, making this is a crucial advancement in the field of stem cell therapy.
The team discovered that mirR-125a, a microRNA, is responsible for the property of stem cells to self-renew. This genetic ‘switch’ remains activated in stem cells but is inactivated in the progenitor cells formed from the division of stem cells. Success in activating this switch would result in self-sustaining production of stem cells, which will be a major boost for the global stem cell therapy market.
In April this year, a research team at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, discovered the protein responsible for the growth and development of blood stem cells. The Musashi-2 protein could be the key to helping thousands of patients of various blood disorders, as understanding the ambit of the protein could allow researchers to increase the number of viable stem cells available for therapeutic use.
What are some of the major drivers for the stem cells market?
The key driver for the global stem cells market is the increasing government support across the world. As widespread incorporation of stem cell therapy allows a nation to significantly improve the overall healthcare scenario, countries in North America and Western Europe have provided solid support to stem cell research. The acceptance of stem cell therapy in emerging regions is still lagging behind due to the lack of advanced medical infrastructure to adopt stem cell therapy, but the steady improvement of the healthcare sector in countries such as India and China is likely to be a major growth driver for the global stem cells market.
The increasing prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders is another major driver for the global demand for stem cells. Neural tissue can’t be regenerated or replaced as easily as structural tissues, and the ability of stem cells to develop into human cells provides the perfect avenue for treatment of neurodegenerative conditions.