The growing preference for cell-based assays in drug discovery, increasing funding for cell-based research, and growth in the number of drug discovery activities are the key factors supporting the growth of the market. However, the growth of the market is likely to be restrained by factors such as the high cost of instruments, restrictions on reagent use, and the lack of infrastructure for cell-based research in emerging economies. The cell-based assays market is projected to reach USD 22.0 billion by 2025 from USD 14.9 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 8.1% during the forecast period.
Cell-based Assays Market Dynamics
Driver: Growing preference for cell-based assays in drug discovery
Cell-based assays are key components in the drug development process. Cell-based assays have several advantages over in vitro biochemical assays. They offer consistent tissue-specific responses in a biologically relevant microenvironment as opposed to biochemical assays. It is also not possible to prepare or purify every target for biochemical measurement, which is a major factor limiting the applications of biochemical assays. As a result, pharmaceutical & biotechnology companies as well as CROs are replacing biochemical assays with cell-based assays for their lead identification and optimization processes in drug discovery.
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The conventional methods of toxicity and drug safety assessment (involving animal testing) are expensive, time-consuming, and offer low-throughput. In this regard, modern cell-based assays merge the advantages of cell cultures and animal models to allow researchers to identify problems with lead compounds in early screening, ensuring greater efficiency in the drug discovery and development process. Additionally, the physiological relevance of cell-based assays, as well as their ability to provide efficient, cost-effective, and accelerated drug discovery solutions, has also fueled their greater adoption among end users.
Resatraint: High cost of instruments and restrictions on reagent use
The introduction of high-throughput screening (HTS) and high-content screening (HCS) technologies in cell-based assays has increased their reliability. However, these technologies have also resulted in a significant increase in the cost of instruments. Moreover, the time and cost involved in each HTS process are directly proportional to the target molecule’s complexity; consequently, the higher the complexity, the greater the cost. In biopharmaceutical companies, the overall cost of production of biopharmaceuticals has increased considerably due to the use of these expensive systems. Academic research laboratories find it difficult to afford such expensive instruments due to budgetary restrictions. Maintenance costs and other indirect expenses result in an overall increase in the total cost of ownership of these instruments.
The growth of the reagents market is restricted by a different factor—product end-user licenses restrict the use of reagent kits only to specified assays. Due to this, even though better and superior reagents are available in the market, customers are restricted to using only those reagents specified in the license agreement. This may act as a barrier to the growth of the cell-based assays market.
Opportunity: Emerging markets
Emerging countries in Asia are expected to offer significant growth opportunities for players operating in the cell-based assays market owing to the low labor and raw material costs, increased risk of pandemics (such as swine flu and COVID-19), growth in the number of research activities, and technological advancements in the end-use sectors for cell-based assays in these countries.
A number of Asian governments have increased their focus on life science research over the last few years. For instance, the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund is a public-private partnership in Japan that funds various R&D activities for drug discovery, which also includes the screening of compound libraries related to various infectious diseases. R&D spending for new drug development is a critical growth driver for the global cell-based assays market. According to estimates from the World Bank, the R&D spending in emerging economies in Asia and RoW has surpassed that of North America and Europe. Additionally, the increasing number of pharmaceutical companies and CROs—key end-users of cell-based assays—in these countries is expected to offer potential growth opportunities for manufacturers of cell-based assays.
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North America accounted for the largest share of the cell-based assays market in 2019.
In 2019, North America accounted for the largest share of the cell-based assays market, followed by Europe. The large share of the North American regional segment can be attributed to the availability of government and private funding for life science research, the growing penetration of CROs, comprehensive drug development regulations, and the rapid adoption of advanced technologies in the region.
Key Market Players
Danaher Corporation (US), Thermo Fisher Scientific (US), Merck KGaA (Germany), Becton, Dickinson and Company (US), PerkinElmer, Inc. (US), Promega Corporation (US), Charles River Laboratories (US), Lonza (Switzerland), BioAgilytix Labs (US), Reaction Biology Corporation (US), AAT Bioquest (US) are the prominent players operating in the cell-based assays market.
- In 2020, Danaher Corporation (US) launched ImageXpress Micro-confocal High-content Imaging System.
- In 2020, Thermo Fisher Scientific (US) acquired Phitonex, Inc. (US). The acquisition of spectral dye platform manufacturer Phitonex will enable Thermo Fisher to offer greater flow cytometry and imaging multiplexing capabilities in protein and cell analysis research.
- In 2020, Charles River Laboratories entered into a multi-year drug discovery collaboration with Karuna Therapeutics, a US-based CRO, to expand its drug discovery capabilities.
- In 2020, Danaher Corporation completed the acquisition of GE Healthcare’s biopharma business and renamed as Cytiva.
- In 2018, Lonza Group AG (Switzerland) established its Collaborative Innovation Center in the new Life Science Park on the outskirts of Haifa, Israel. This center focuses on the R&D projects of Lonza’s Pharma Biotech & Nutrition segment.
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