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Sep 15, 2012 (Vol. 32, No. 16)

Granular Look at Stem Cell Research

Review of Publication Trends Reveals Trajectory of the Space

  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    Segmentation of Stem Cell Publications Based on Type of Stem Cell

    As part of our continuing review of the stem cells marketplace, we have sought to analyze and categorize the publications in the broad stem cell field in order to better understand relationships between specific stem cell classes and selected disease classes.

    This methodology represents one metric by which the large and amorphous field of stem cell research can be analyzed. The method presented is just one part of our comprehensive coverage of this space, which uses various different metrics that en bloc allow us to closely follow a given market space.

    From the PubMed database, we retrieved 144,317 unique publications with stem cell in the title or abstract of the publication. We subsequently binned these publications into stem cell classes based on the presence of specific stem cell descriptors. The Table presents this binning.

  • Hotspot Map

    Click Image To Enlarge +
    Figure 1. The deeper the shading of a particular cell in this 2D map, the more publications segregate into this space.

    This set of binned publications was then used to generate a hotspot map utilizing various disease-related keywords that we utilized as a means to interrogate this pool of papers. The rationale was that these keywords could provide an insight into what these publications were focusing on and therefore what this publication record was telling us. Figure 1 presents the results of this hotspot analysis. The keywords used across the top of the table were focused on normal stem cell biology as well as pathological situations. The deeper the shading of a particular cell in this 2D map, the more publications segregate into this space.

    • This hotspot map (Figure 1) shows that the number of publications with “transplant” in the title or abstract is high across the board—i.e., across the various stem cell classes. This suggests that most of the stem cell classes studied and being published on have a relevance to cellular therapy or transplantation and serves as a good internal control for our methodology.
    • We see a dark red hotspot in both the leukemia and graft-versus-host-disease cells in the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) row—once again this is in agreement with our expectation that publications in the HSC space will be addressing these topics and nicely validates our methodology.
    • Cord blood-derived stem cells (CBSC) were also penetrant in the leukemia space as shown by the dark blue hotspot in that relevant sector, and this we interpret as being due to the utility of cord blood as a source of stem cells (predominantly HSCs) for the treatment of hematological malignancies.
    • Taken together, this hotspot map illustrates the differences within different types of stem cells vis-à-vis their research studies in different spaces—for instance the hotspots where neural stem cells (NSCs) are studied for neurodegenerative disease, spinal cord, and stroke.
    • The value of this type of analysis is that it provides a view of the publication record with the granularity that can be utilized to study sectors of activity. In this vein, we perform continual industry tracking wherein we are collecting market metrics in fast-changing markets every six months and therefore can follow the evolution of the field—in this present case the whole stem cell space—as it unfolds.
  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    Figure 2. Stem cells-focused publications and their exponential growth in last century.

    In summary, it is clear that an analysis of the stem cell publication record can yield unique information about different market segments in a deeply granular manner that can be used as a metric to follow the growth, expansion, and maturation of this marketplace.

    Figure 2 shows the massive expansion of the stem cell field over the past decades as assessed via number of publications, and our present analysis seeks to classify and categorize these publications in order to discover operative trends and reveal the trajectory of this expanding marketplace. We continue our coverage of this field as we map the evolution of the sector as research efforts move towards commercialization of stem cell products.


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