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Assessing the full potential of global stem cell research

The stem cell research sector is growing more than twice as fast (7%) as the global research average (2.9%), according to a new report. The study, which examined the growth and development of the stem cell field as a whole, also closely examined the embryonic stem (ES) cell an...
Assessing the full potential of global stem cell research
The stem cell research sector is growing more than twice as fast (7%) as the global research average (2.9%), according to a new report. The study, which examined the growth and development of the stem cell field as a whole, also closely examined the embryonic stem (ES) cell and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research landscape.

The report was jointly prepared by a consortium that included the EU-funded EUROSTEMCELL project and was discussed at the recent World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego, US. It reveals positive findings about the development of stem cell research.

For example, stem cell publications are 50% more cited than the world average for all related subject areas. Around half of all stem cell papers use keywords related to "drug development" or "regenerative medicine". Reflecting the field's ongoing development and clinical promise, 47% of stem cell publications used keywords related to regenerative medicine, while 2% used keywords related to drug development.

Singapore, Italy, the USA, Japan, and Israel demonstrated the highest level of activity in stem cell research, while the US and China have the highest volume.

'The aim of this report was to support development in stem cell science and policy discussion by bringing together comprehensive analytical overview of the fields together with insights from experts,' said Nick Fowler, Managing Director of Academic and Government Institutions for Elsevier, one of authors of the report. 'We are proud we have been able to collaborate with EUROSTEMCELL, Kyoto University, iCeMS and the experts who have provided their valuable input.'

Stem cells are cells that replenish stocks of specialised cells that have been used up or damaged. They can continuously produce copies of themselves as well as other more specialised cell types. This makes these types of cells unique. Unlike a red blood cell, which carries oxygen through the blood stream, or a muscle cell that works with other cells to produce movement, a stem cell does not have any specialized physiological properties.

This makes them hugely interesting to science and to medicine in particular. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation. A better understanding of the genetic and molecular controls of these processes may yield information about how such diseases arise and suggest new strategies for therapy.

This is an important goal of stem cell research, and a major motivation behind EUROSTEMCELL, which was launched in March 2010. Funded to the tune of EUR 830,238 through the Commission's 7th Framework Programme (FP7), the project involves more than 90 European stem cell and regenerative medicine research labs in a coordinated effort to engage with the public about stem cell science. EUROSTEMCELL is scheduled for completion in February 2014.

'This report gives us a bird's eye view of the international stem cell field, drawing on advanced bibliometric techniques to identify national and international trends - where is stem cell research strongest, where is the sector developing fastest, are the results of individual funding initiatives translating into high impact publications, and so on', said Professor Clare Blackburn, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh and the Project Coordinator of EUROSTEMCELL.

'It has been extremely interesting to analyse these data, they contain a lot of provocative information. We hope readers will gain a new understanding of the shape of the field that will stimulate future policy discussions.'

Source: University of Edinburgh, UK

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Record Number: 36339 / Last updated on: 2013-12-18
Category: Other
Provider: EC