Researchers at Emory University have discovered a way of packaging stem cells that make them much more effective in heart therapies. Using a capsule made of alginate, a gel-like substance, the researchers package the stem cells and attach them to the heart within a patch. According to Emory University, this capsule cause the stem cells’ healing to take place over time, rather than dying soon after they are introduced to the body, as they do without the capsule.
"This approach appears to be an effective way to increase cell retention and survival in the context of cardiac cell therapy," said W. Robert Taylor, MD, professor of medicine and director of the cardiology division at Emory University School of Medicine. "It may be a strategy applicable to many cell types for regenerative therapy in cardiovascular disease."
The stem cell research products market is already large, and it’s growing quickly. The federal government, although not the most major source of funding, still plays an important role in funding stem cell research and products. Private sources recently contributed $1.7 billion in gifts for stem cell research. According to Yahoo Finance, there are over one million stem cell researchers in 283 countries around the world.
Stem cells in alginate capsules
Image courtesy of Emory University
When Yahoo Finance first started monitoring the stem cell research products market in 2006, there were 17 countries in the industry. Today, there are 90 companies, which represents a 5.3-fold increase. The stem cell research products market, excluding stem cell antibodies, was valued at $1.28 billion in 2011 and is expected to rise to $2.10 billion by 2016. When taking into consideration the total market for all stem cell products, this industry was valued at $5.72 billion in 2011.
At Emory University, researchers say that the new capsules they’ve developed for stem cells in heart therapy breaks down over 10 days. Dr. Taylor says he and his research team plan to test different materials to control how fast the patch, which they attach to the heart, dissolves and how long the capsules of stem cells stay within the patch.
In addition to participating in stem cell research, Emory University receives funding from the NIH and NSF that is available to researchers marketing life science solutions at life science marketing events. Emory University received $300.7 million from the NIH in 2012, while the NSF awarded Emory University $10.6 million in research funding in 2012. For more funding information on Emory University, please read our blog Emory University Receives $274.2M in Research Funding.
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