The immunoassay market is growing steadily, fueled by an aging population, increasing expectations, and emerging nations’ demands for better healthcare.
In response, immunoassay developers are boosting specificity, simplifying the use and analysis of assays, and developing assays tailored to more specific needs.
The immunoassay market is growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7%. Globally, it will reach a value of $21 billion by 2017, according to a new report from BCC Research, “Immunoassays: Technologies and Global Markets.”
Asia offers the greatest growth potential. BCC predicts a CAGR of 5.6%, growing from $5.5 billion in 2012 to nearly $7.3 billion in 2017. “In Asia, pandemic flu strains are increasingly prevalent, so immunoassays and vaccines are needed to combat them,” says BCC analyst Jackson Highsmith.
The Americas market, currently the largest, is expected to have a CAGR of 4.1%, growing from $5.2 billion in 2012 to $6.4 billion in 2017. Europe, in contrast, is expected to reach $5.3 billion by 2017, with a 4.2% CAGR. Here, growth is driven by the incidence of cancer.
The aging population creates significant growth opportunities. The World Health Organization estimates the global population over age 60 will double in the coming decades, growing from 11% in 2000 to 22% percent in 2050.
“The increased incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases in middle-aged to older populations is linked to epigenetic effects,” Highsmith points out. Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and other conditions show strong correlations with aging. Therefore, countries wanting to decrease their healthcare costs call for assays to detect epigenetic diseases (in particular) earlier and more accurately, and for research on new targets.
Companies also have opportunities to increase the sensitivities and specificities of existing tests, making them more clinically relevant. As assays are introduced that add value, “I can see them eating away at the existing markets,” says Harry Glorikian, managing director of strategy at Precision for Medicine, a provider of specialized services for life sciences companies.
EpiCypher, for example, can deliver protein binding arrays containing peptides longer than 20 amino acids to help scientists identify biomarkers with greater precision, Highsmith says. “EpiCypher’s protein binding and histone peptide arrays are elucidating epigenetic effects that are critical to assessing novel targets at the center of chronic diseases caused by aging populations.”
Biomarkers aren’t new, but their numbers are growing as scientists increasingly correlate genomics to specific diseases and thereby address unmet medical needs. Fujirebio Diagnostics’ cancer marker HE4, for example, is among the newly discovered markers. It is being used to monitor recurrence or progression of epithelial ovarian cancer, Glorikian says. For diagnosis, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, commercialized by a handful of companies, improves the accuracy and speed of detection in acute kidney injury. Alere’s Triage® BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) test likewise provides rapid diagnosis of congestive heart failure.