Regenerative medicine sector needs more financial support from private investors
One of the most important and innovative pharmaceutical companies in
Between its founding and its first product launch,
But that income was tiny compared to the cost of developing its drugs. Improbably, it managed to attract enough investors to keep going and growing.
That investment is now starting to pay off. Cartistem is just one of three stem cell products approved for sale in
"There are not many companies that can deal with global development in the pharmerging market," said
The "pharmerging" markets are the emerging markets for pharmaceutical products. China is possibly the biggest, but there are quite a few of them in the region including
But much is changing in the region, particularly in
"There is an exceptional example of a new approach in
For the time being, government support is driving the growth of this particular industry. Private or institutional investors are not yet convinced that taking a risk on a company developing a drug using science few people understand is worthwhile.
"The institutional investor base in
"(South) Korean biotech has had a lot of government support and government support is important," Park says.
Globally, the top 15 regenerative medicine products were worth an estimated
But even as the science gets better and more interesting - even making it possible to tackle illnesses like Alzheimer's disease - investors remain wary.
"Investors don't understand the space. They think the cost of goods is too high," says
Preti is also a member of the executive committee of the
And the costs can be high. There are only a handful of regenerative medicine products on the market today.
Companies in this area spend years researching drugs, getting them through regulatory approvals and trying to get them to market. All this time, they have not a single bit of revenue coming in.
This is not uncommon in drug development. On average, just one in 10 drugs under development ever makes it to market. The cost of developing a single drug, including putting it through the various trials, could be upward of
To date, only a handful of countries have some kind of funding or regulatory framework for regenerative medicine and
Something similar is happening in most other countries in the region. Population across much of
Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's are much more common among the elderly. So are heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis, to name a few. Treating them is often difficult, if not impossible, and it is always expensive.
Regenerative medicine could help cut down on these costs.
The idea behind regenerative medicine is to replace or regenerate cells, tissue or organs that have been damaged.
In theory, regenerative medicine could someday allow patients to "grow" a new kidney or replace damaged brain cells, treat spinal cord injuries, arterial disease, Parkinson's disease and more.
But despite the vast unexplored potential that regenerative medicine holds, research into the space has long been limited and investment almost impossible to find.
The term "regenerative medicine" itself is just two decades old. Political and ethical issues have combined to create something of a movement, particularly in the US and
Fears of cloning and concerns over the ethics of using embryonic stem cells have often overshadowed the potential benefits.
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