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Regen Med. 2008 Nov;3(6):925-37. doi: 10.2217/17460751.3.6.925.

Cell-based therapeutics from an economic perspective: primed for a commercial success or a research sinkhole?

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  • 1Cytograft Tissue Engineering, 3 Hamilton Landing, Ste. 220, Novato, CA 94949, USA.


Despite widespread hype and significant investment through the late 1980s and 1990s, cell-based therapeutics have largely failed from both a clinical and financial perspective. While the early pioneers were able to create clinically efficacious products, small margins coupled with small initial indications made it impossible to produce a reasonable return on the huge initial investments that had been made to support widespread research activities. Even as US FDA clearance opened up larger markets, investor interest waned, and the crown jewels of cell-based therapeutics went bankrupt or were rescued by corporate bailout. Despite the hard lessons learned from these pioneering companies, many of today's regenerative medicine companies are supporting nearly identical strategies. It remains to be seen whether or not our proposed tenets for investment and commercialization strategy yield an economic success or whether the original model can produce a return on investment sufficient to justify the large up-front investments. Irrespective of which approach yields a success, it is critically important that more of the second-generation products establish profitability if the field is to enjoy continued investment from both public and private sectors.

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