The Indian stem cell industry is in a nascent stage. There is potential for fast growth and global players will enter the market through mergers and acquisitions, says a study by YES Bank and the Federation of Asian Biotech Associations (FABA).

At present, the top five players in the Indian private sector space in stem cells are — Reliance Life Sciences, Life Cell, Cryobanks India, Stempeutics and Trans-Scell Biologics. Most of the Indian companies are focussed on stem cell banking and research, the study released recently stated.

With the benefits of stem cell therapy growing, it is attracting several organisations and industry to invest, create and commercialise promising technologies. The global stem cell therapy market was pegged at $21 billion in 2010. It is projected to grow to $60 billion by 2015, the study pointed out.

Stem cells are unique as they have the ability to divide indefinitely and give rise to specialised types. Under specific conditions they can be induced to become tissue or organ specific cells with special functions. The main sources of these cells are embryos and adult tissues.

When it comes to treatment, it serves as an internal repair mechanism, dividing to replenish other cells. These characteristics of the stem cells are helping scientists to even tackle difficult diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

The market for stem cells will include specific products, services and technologies to aid in diagnosis to cure.

Government Initiatives

Though, the report did not give the size of the Indian market, it forecasts an annual growth rate of around 15 per cent, mainly driven by investments from the Government and private players.

The Indian Government has been quite proactive in promoting work in stem cells, especially in clinical trials, basic research and creating applications. The Department of Biotechnology has invested $60 million into stem cell research during 2005-2010.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, is a major player. Similarly, the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has set up a clinical research facility for stem cell technologies with an investment of Rs 24 crore last year. Other important centres for stem cell work are National Centre for Cell Sciences at Pune, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, Centre for Stem Cell Research at CMC, Vellore, National Brain Research Centre, New Delhi and so on, the report identified.

soma@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 8, 2012)
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