The world cell culture market is expanding at double-digit rates and is expected to maintain this momentum through 2013. Worldwide sales are estimated to have reached $1.87 billion in 2008, up 12% from 2007. Cell culture sales are expected to increase at a compound annual rate of 13% over the forecast period, 2003–2013, to reach $3.4 billion in 2013.
As a result of considerable ongoing consolidation activity among cell culture suppliers, the market is dominated by a handful of large companies. The market leaders in the cell culture supply market have well-respected, long-standing reputations and brand names. These market leaders have broad and deep product lines, as well as extensive worldwide distribution systems, which sets the bar high for new, smaller companies to enter this market. However, for large competitors there is one certain route of entry into the cell culture market—acquire a brand name.
Vaccines, Stem Cells, and Biosimilars
In March 2009, President Obama lifted the Bush administration’s restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. This should advance development of novel approaches to treating illnesses for which there are currently few if any therapeutic options. The development of culturing protocols and technologies for stem cells will, in turn, boost the cell culture market.
The cell culture market will continue to be strengthened by biomedical research. In cell biology research, cell-screening technology is important in finding high-producing cell lines, and research is now focused on how to predict growth characteristics of cells at an earlier stage. Progress in the future will come from processes such as metabolic engineering that will aid in improving cell lines. Going forward, cell-line improvement will continue to be a main focal point of research. Biomedical research and bioprocessing have a wide range of supply needs, including high-quality media and reagents for fermentation and cell culture.
Stem cell research will also add to the robust growth of the cell culture market. The growing use and diverse applications of stem cells are having a significant impact on the media market, as companies work to understand how best to optimize their growth. For stem cell applications, serum-free media that lacks growth factors, cytokines, or artificial stimulators of proliferation will play an increasingly important role.
An additional driver of the cell culture market will be generic biopharmaceuticals, also referred to as biosimilars, follow-on proteins, biogenerics, comparable biologics, follow-on biologics, or generic biologics.
A possible threat to the future of the cell culture market is the production of biopharmaceuticals in transgenic animals and plants. Transgenic domestic animals and plants as a manufacturing method for biopharmaceuticals has the potential to improve scalability and yield of cell culture and fermentation systems, which will reduce the cost of producing biopharmaceuticals. In recent years, the number of proteins developed, as well as the types of transgenic platforms used for production, have increased significantly.
Finally, a greater call for a faster vaccine-production method is predicted. The distribution complications associated with H1N1 vaccines, which are still egg-based and labor-intensive, made it abundantly clear that alternative methods are necessary. Vaccines produced using cell culture will be an important driver of the market in the near future.