Discovered in the 1980s as a potential, revolutionary method for curing disease, gene therapy is a rapidly expanding field of medicine with its first success recorded in 2000.
Doctors can treat patients by inserting a gene into their cells, as an alternative to prescribing drugs or performing surgery.
With favorable government regulations, global cancer therapy thrives through its key players in the market.
The high price of gene therapy treatment remains a challenge, resulting from high costs in carrying out the necessary clinical trials.
According to Research and Markets, gene therapy can be broadly defined as the transfer of defined genetic material to specific target cells of a patient for the ultimate purpose of preventing or altering a particular disease state.
Clinical applications of gene therapy are extensive and cover most systems and their disorders, including genetic syndromes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and viral infections with emphasis on AIDS.
Research and development is in progress in both the academic and the industrial sectors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the US is playing an important part. As of 2016, over 2050 clinical trials were completed, were ongoing or had been approved worldwide.
Since the death of Jesse Gelsinger in the US following a gene therapy treatment, the FDA has further tightened the regulatory control on gene therapy.
A further setback was the reports of leukemia following use of retroviral vectors in successful gene therapy for adenosine deaminase deficiency.
Several clinical trials were put on hold and many have resumed now. Some gene medicines are being approved. According to an analyst from Research and Markets: "One trend in the market is favorable government regulations for gene therapy programs.
Gene therapy has been a big hope for the individuals suffering from rare diseases and various forms of cancers. Cancer is one of the biggest life-threatening diseases across the globe and has been a huge point of concern for the healthcare providers.
This has led to rising support to R&D activities in cancer gene therapy from various governments."
The following companies are the key players in the global cancer gene therapy market: Adaptimmune, bluebird bio, Celgene, Shanghai Sunway Biotech, Shenzhen SiBiono GeneTech, and SynerGene Therapeutics.
One driver in the market is rising geriatric population. The global geriatric population continues to grow at a faster pace due to several factors such as rapidly falling fertility rates and growing life expectancy due to better medical facilities.
The US Census Bureau reported that the total population aging 65 years and above was estimated at 617 million in 2015 and is expected to rise to 1,566 million by 2050.
Asia has the largest and fastest growing aging population due to several factors such as the huge population of the region, government policies such as one child policy of China has reduced the addition of young population, and higher investment in the healthcare sector has led to better medical facilities and longer life expectancy.
One challenge in the market is high cost of gene therapy treatment. The sky-high cost of gene therapy has made it a point of debate across the globe.
One of the major causes for the exorbitant cost of gene therapy is the requirement of intensive clinical trials.
The gene therapy needs to be tailored to suit the genetic acceptance for each individual, unlike small and large molecule drug clinical trials where the trials are done in large and random samples.
In the clinical trials of gene therapy, the stem cell is extracted from each patient's bone marrow, then the correct version of the gene is mingled with the cell, and the corrected stem cells are introduced to the individual patient.