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.
Congestive Heart Failure
Regenerative medicine is likely to have a profound effect on chronic disease conditions that today contribute to significant expenditures in healthcare. CHF is a case in point. This chronic disease is responsible for $35 billion in direct expenditures in the U.S. alone—primarily driven by repeat hospital visits following acute episodes of destabilization.
Scientia estimates that if regenerative medicine can arrest CHF or reverse/restore heart functionality for even 20% of patients, treatment costs could be reduced by more than $8 billion per year by 2020. Regenerative technologies could potentially lead to even greater cost savings for care in other chronic diseases such as diabetes.