Unmet Needs in Chronic Diseases
The next wave of regenerative medicine is likely to include cell-based therapies that have potentially significant but, largely, incremental impact on chronic medical conditions. For example, in vascular applications, the next wave of therapies will include relatively simple applications such as those for repairing arteriovenous fistulas damaged by regular needle access, as required by dialysis patients with renal failure.
After this wave, we are likely to see the first truly disruptive cell-based therapies. Targeting cardiovascular conditions, these therapies will be aimed at repairing damage to the heart and vasculature associated with myocardial infarction, coronary arterial disease, and congestive heart failure (CHF). Today, all of these conditions are considered irreversible and chronic—warranting a lifetime of expensive therapies, medical devices, and monitoring.
By arresting degeneration or restoring functionality, however, regenerative medicine solutions could transform medical care for such problems. Beyond the cardiovascular example, novel cell-based therapies promise to target challenging chronic conditions in neurology (e.g., brain and spine repair) and metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes). These therapies, however, are not likely to enter the market soon.