Ted Harada, a patient at Emory University, received a second round of stem cell treatment for the condition he has called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. After he received the initial treatment, surgeons saw a dramatic improvement. Harada’s surprising improvement could create an outpouring of new investment capital from major pharmaceutical companies. Although there are many stem cell treatments that are still in the trial phase, it goes without saying how much potential stem cell therapy has. Through analysis of the numerous disorders and diseases that stem cell therapies can treat, it can be said that there is at least a $500 billion market for products that display accuracy and are able to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Dr. Benjamin Gesundheit M.D. PhD , a pediatric hematologist oncologist with experience in bone marrow transplantation and experimental cell therapy, spoke about his research on mesenchymal stem cells and autism at the ICare4Autism International Autism Conference in Jerusalem. His topic, entitled “Mesenchymal Stromal Stem Cells for Autism Spectrum Disorder- The Therapeutic Rationale and its Future Potential,” highlights this new innovation in autism therapy research, and provided insight for industry professionals. Dr. Gesundheit discussed how autoimmune mechanisms with chronic neuroinflammation have been connected to the causes of autism spectrum disorder, offering mesenchymal stem cells as a way to open up new therapies for children with autism. Dr. Gesundheit aims to introduce these stem cells more into future clinical studies, claiming that the regenerative, immunomodulary, and anti-inflammatory qualities of the cells will provide innovative alternatives for treatment.
Cardiovascular disease and stroke also seem to be a potential market for stem cell therapy. According to the U.S. Center of Disease Control (CDC), cardiovascular disease and stroke cost up to $444 billion for Americans in 2010 alone, amounting to nearly 20 percent of all health costs. Several stem cell products aim to treat the neurological injuries commonly caused by strokes. More than 15 million people are estimated to suffer from strokes worldwide each year, according the World Health Organization (WHO), with one-third of the victims becoming disabled permanently.
Athersys, Inc is one stem cell company attempting to enter this market. There is little competition because the only FDA-approved drug for ischemic strokes is an anti-clotting drug called tPA. However, the window for using this drug is very small as it can only be administered within three to four hours of having a stroke, without too many serious complications. The product being developed by Athersys, called MultiStem, does not have this limitation and its application allowing benefits up to one week after a stroke. Researchers at the University of Texas and the University of Minnesota have both touted the ascertainable benefits of the stem-cell based treatment. Multistem is currently undergoing Phase 2 clinical trials to ensure the safety of administering the product through intravenous. Athersys is also explroing whether MultiStem could be utilized to treat many other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, vascular disease, congestive heart failures, obesity, and repair the damage caused by heart attacks.
Athersys has teamed up with Pfizer to develop and advertize an alternative of MultiStem to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease.