How is Cell Isolation Revolutionizing Medical Industry?

9 mins read

One of the biggest medical advancements of recent times is the invention of the cell isolation method. Also known as cell sorting or cell separation, the cell isolation method has rapidly become an integral component of modern biological and medical research. In this method, a one-cell population or multiple cell types are isolated from a heterogeneous sample. The targeted cells are first identified and then isolated and separated based on their type.

In addition to being majorly used in modern biological research activities and cellular enumeration, in certain pathologies, cell isolation methods are also being increasingly adopted for the early detection of various diseases and in the hassle-free development of several biopharmaceuticals, such as biosimilars, recombinant proteins, and monoclonal antibodies. The cells are mainly obtained from animal, plant, and human sources, requiring an extensive filtration system to prevent contamination from bacteria and viruses. 

Thus, due to the widespread usage of the cell isolation method in the healthcare industry and research activities, the global cell isolation market generated $4.6 billion in revenue in 2017 and is predicted to attain a $12.6 billion valuation by 2023. The market will demonstrate a CAGR of 18.8% from 2018 to 2023.  

What Are Most Commonly Used Cell Isolation Methods?

Immunomagnetic cell separation

This cell isolation method involves using magnetic particles to isolate the target cells from the heterogeneous cell mixture. This is done by binding the magnetic particles to the target-cell proteins, through enzymes, streptavidin, and antibodies, and then placing the sample in an electromagnetic field. Some of the major advantages of this technique are:

  • Simplicity and faster separation process
  • Low cost of the equipment required for this process
  • High purity
  • Isolation of multiple cells at once

Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)

The FACS method uses fluorescent probes and flow cytometry for sorting the heterogenous cell mixtures. Although this method is slower than the immunomagnetic cell separation process for isolating the cells, it is still widely used because of its:

  • Ability to isolate single cells and complex cell types, with higher purity
  • Ability to sort cells based on intracellular markers and surface marker expression levels

Density gradient centrifugation

The density gradient centrifugation method uses the cells’ different densities in a heterogeneous sample for isolating them. The heterogeneous sample is placed on top of a density gradient and then centrifuged. The biggest advantage of this process over other cell separation methods is its lower cost.

Immunodensity cell separation

This cell separation method is also called erythrocyte rosetting. It is a negative-selection technique incorporating both the density gradient centrifugation and antibody-based labeling processes for cell isolation. This cell separation technique doesn’t require any advanced and specialized system, except a centrifuge, and is thus rapidly gaining popularity worldwide.

The other commonly used cell separation techniques are sedimentation, adhesion, and microfluidic cell separation. 

Increasing Cancer Menace Making Cell Isolation Essential

A major factor that has significantly increased the use of cell isolation techniques is the high prevalence of cancer and other chronic diseases across the globe. This is primarily attributed to the large-scale usage of biopharmaceuticals in treating various chronic diseases, including cancer. One of the biggest breakthroughs in medical sciences has been the utilization of biopharmaceuticals for the early detection of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are the most widely used biopharmaceuticals for cancer detection. This is because these antibodies target the antigens and irregular pathways usually present in cancer cells.  

Government Investments Boosting Development of Cell Isolation Therapies 

The investments being made by the government of several countries have led to the development of various technologically innovative and advanced methods for cell separation and production of biopharmaceuticals. In addition to this, these investments have significantly increased the research and development (R&D) activities in cell isolation and cell isolation-based treatment procedures. As a result, cell therapies are being increasingly adopted for the treatment of various neurological, renal, and skeletal diseases, spinal cord injuries, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, and autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and type-1 diabetes. 

There has been a sharp rise in government funding in several countries to develop advanced and efficient cell separation methods and biopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat various diseases. For instance, Andrew M. Cuomo, the Governor of New York, allocated $36 million to three research organizations in 2015 to develop stem-cell-based treatment procedures for sickle cell anemia and ovarian cancer and cord blood collections. Similarly, the Indian government is making huge investments in a biotechnology company, OmiX Labs, under the Biotechnology Ignition Grant, for developing treatment methods for various chronic diseases, such as cancer.

End Users of Cell Isolation Methods

The cell isolation processes’ major end-users are hospitals and diagnostic laboratories, research laboratories and institutes, cell banks, and biotechnology and biopharmaceutical organizations. Out of these, the adoption of cell separation techniques would probably increase quite rapidly in hospitals and diagnostic laboratories over the next few years. The rising prevalence of bacterial and viral infections (coronavirus in the current times) and the subsequent surge in the requirement for cell isolation products in diagnostic laboratories and hospitals would be behind this.

Asia-Pacific (APAC) the Best Investment Opportunity for Cell Isolation Solution Providers in the Future?

Across the globe, the adoption of cell isolation procedures will rise significantly in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in the forthcoming years. This is primarily credited to the soaring investments being made in cell research by the governments of various APAC nations and the increasing focus of medical researchers and scientists on basic and applied research. In the APAC region, Japan has been at the forefront of cell separation procedure utilization for the past few years, on account of world-class healthcare infrastructure, numerous research institutes, heavy government research funding, and easy availability of advanced cell separation products. 

Therefore, the need for cell isolation procedures will continue to shoot up all over the world in the coming years, mainly on account of their growing usage in the treatment of cancer and various other chronic diseases and the increasing adoption of stem cell therapies for medical research.

Author Bio

Pramod Kumar has around 7 years of experience in market research and consulting services for the healthcare industry. He holds varied experience in market sizing and forecasting with varied models, competition landscape, consumer behavior analysis, opportunity analysis, product/company benchmarking, data mining, and others.

He has successfully delivered multiple projects on go-to-market strategies, pricing strategy, price point analysis, Business Expansion, market-entry, and exit, share analysis, and others. Prior to joining P&S Intelligence, he worked with different research companies, including Transparency Market Research and MarketsandMarkets Pvt Ltd.

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