Updated on 31 January 2013
The stem cell industry is boldly jumping over all hurdles
The pioneering research of Nobel Laureates Sir John Gurdon and Dr Shinya Yamanaka on reprogramming adult stem cells has opened new avenues in stem cell research. Several APAC countries are taking major leaps in this domain. However, their path is filled with a lot of struggle as they face numerous hurdles.
Mr Vasant S Gaikwad of GBI Research, while speaking in this regard, says, "Inadequate research funding, unknown therapeutics outcomes and reproducibility issues in clinical trials, poor understanding of underlying mechanism, and lack of patient awareness about stem cell therapies and its potential applications are some of the key factors that hinder the growth of stem cell therapy market."
Dr Deepak Srivastava of Gladstone Institutes notes that the length of time and capital resources required are the biggest challenges. "An average of 12 years and over $1 billion (is required) to successfully bring an experimental drug from research to market," he says.
To add to these, there is a still evolving regulatory environment in most countries. Clinics offering unproven and unfounded stem cell treatments can put patient's health at risk, often for little or no benefit, adds Professor Martin Pera of Stem Cells Australia. "Responsible scientists in the field have repeatedly called for tight regulation of stem cell therapies, which, being experimental, should almost always be carried out in the context of a clinical trial after appropriate preclinical studies have demonstrated safety and efficacy in model systems," he says.