Stem cell and regenerative medicine companies are beginning to attract some serious attention from investors who have taken the time to follow advancements in biotechnology, and the explosive movement of these technologies and products into clinical settings worldwide.
There are a lot of dynamics in health care today, and no one should be surprised by the rapid growth in health consumer demand for stem cell therapies. Health care consumers want alternatives to invasive, expensive and not always remedial treatments that conventional medicine and pharmaceuticals offer. Although the US restricted stem cell research in the early 2000s, the research did not die—it emigrated. The rest of the world continued to research and discover the efficacies of embryonic and adult stem cells with amazing results.
Today, demand for stem cell therapies has increased far beyond what the world of Western medicine and pharmaceuticals can provide. While U.S. regulators lag behind the rest of the world in approving cell treatments, more and more patients from the US and Europe are traveling abroad to countries that offer them. Medical tourism is a booming industry, and many regenerative medicine companies are actively marketing directly to patients, facilitating travel for medical procedures—including stem cell treatments. Even while the U.S. government, the medical industry and even some traditional practitioners continue to try wrapping their heads around regenerative medicine and cellular therapies, the field continues to grow. It’s apparent that, no matter what any one government or institution may try to do to control the use of stem cells, the demand for this technology is too intense to stand still.
A constant stream of newly discovered health benefits in this area of biomedicine, combined with health consumer demand has been stimulated and maintained through a flow of increasingly positive studies, clinical trials and media coverage.
It’s only a matter of time before frustration over the disparity between the promise of stem cell treatments and the reality of the very limited access Westerners have to it will burst at the seams.
Today’s health consumers have decided to pursue the many stem cell therapies that are produced outside the conventional medical model, and demand for stem cell therapies has stimulated a global supply of what the Western model’s resistance simply can’t contain forever.
Today’s stem cell companies are entrenched in a segment of the medical market that has the potential to change the way modern medicine is practiced forever.
Committed and enterprising physicians are expanding their practices in record numbers by adding stem cell treatments to their services, and patients demand is dynamic.
Regenerative medicine is attracting some serious capital from investors who understand biotechnology and have the resources to move products into the market, despite the ongoing battles that continue to hover on the political and reimbursement fronts. Benito Novas, CEO of international biotech Global Stem Cells Group, sees near-term milestones ahead, as well as an incursion of validating capital from distinguished investors who believe in the future of stem cell research, gene therapies, and genetically modified cell therapies. The forecast is in favor of the tremendous impact they have the potential to change the model of medicine as we know it.
Patients and practitioners are moving past the existing model of pharmaceutical intervention, treatments and disease management to curative outcomes. In addition to the rapidly growing biotech industry is a growing constituency of patient advocacy organizations and research institutes focused on advanced stem cell therapies and regenerative medicine. This wide ranging constituency increasingly drives how and where stem cell technology can be applied, and exposes the challenges and opportunities encountered by this revolutionary research.
In fact, investment in gene therapies, genetically modified cell therapies, regenerative medicine and stem cells has picked up speed, and data on these investments, not just from the venture capital community, but from the public equity markets and also from large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, over the last two years, has risen exponentially. Significant partnerships have been established as well.
Between 2013 and 2014, there are some very notable upswings in stem cell and regenerative medicine investments; venture capital has doubled—$2.1 billion ($2.1B) in 2014, compared to $1B in 2013—while initial public offerings (IPOs) almost tripled, to nearly $1.4B. Private investment in public equity funding rose from $1.4B to $2.53B. Upfront partnership payments rose from $42M in 2013 to $323M in 2014. The growth is unprecedented, and partnerships with big pharmaceutical and biotech companies further validate the expanding maturity of these technologies. Some experts forecast future milestones from deals announced in 2014 could potentially reach $9B, versus $2.4B in potential milestones from deals announced in 2013. The momentum continues to drive new and transformative advances in regenerative therapies.
Ultimately, investors could look back to this period and recognize cell therapy innovators who made a fundamental difference in the practice of medicine in the same way that many of the great scientists of the recombinant DNA generation achieved. Those scientists didn't just change medicine; they changed the lives of patients.
When you think about the value of cellular therapies to patients and the healthcare system in general, especially with regard to the potential cost savings associated with curative therapies and conventional medicine, the future of healthcare should be a no-brainer.
2016 is expected to be a very important year in terms of clinical translation, clinical data and product approval. Expect a number of important, tangible milestones associated with FDA Phase 2 and Phase 3 data, biologics license application (BLA) submissions, and potentially, product approvals.
Investors are in a position to invest in tomorrow’s medical equivalent of Apple, Microsoft or Google. Biotechnology has been overlooked by investors for too long already, and has the potential to dramatically increase in value, especially in the long-term.