Paul Thomen

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

3D Cell Culture Technology Market Trends 2013

This market report summarizes the results of HTStec’s 3rd industry-wide global web-based benchmarking survey on three dimensional (3D) cell culture technologies carried out in July 2013. The study was initiated by HTStec as part of its ongoing tracking of this fast moving technology and emerging marketplace, and to update its previous report (published November 2011). The main objectives of this global benchmarking study were to comprehensively document continuing interest in, experience gained and progress made in applying 3D cell culture technologies in academic research, drug discovery and tissue engineering/regenerative medicine settings, and to understand their future purchasing preferences.

The survey looked at the following aspects of 3D cell culture as practiced to date (2013) and in a few cases as predicted for the future (2015): current level of adoption (% all cell culture wells processed) of 3D cell culture technologies; areas where interest in 3D cell culture is primarily focused; type of 3D structure most interest in generating in culture; main intended applications of 3D cell culture; opinion on statements about 3D cell culture; most important advantages of 3D cell culture; approaches that have demonstrated most promise to date in facilitating 3D cell culture; vessel formats a 3D scaffold/matrix must have compatibility with; requirements for different types of 3D scaffold; different cell types used for 3D cell culture work; number of 3D wells per assay or project; total number of 3D wells per year; whether any high throughput (primary) screens using 3D technologies have been run to date; where 3D cell culture will make the biggest impact over the coming years; assay types successfully demonstrated using cells within a 3D matrix/structure; analytical technologies that have been applied to 3D cell culture today; how aspects of existing plate readers/imaging systems rate for use in the routine assay/detection/ interrogation of 3D cell culture derived structures; the most important tasks to automate in 3D cell culture; opinion on statements related to automating 3D cell culture; awareness of approaches/platforms used for the automation of 3D cell culture and tissue production/fabrication; interest in outsourcing 3D cell culture; interest in purchasing some assay-ready 3D constructs and outsourced 3D services; vendors that first comes to mind when you think of assay-ready 3D constructs and outsourced 3D services; interest in 3D organotypic microtissue models; level of success achieved with 3D cell culture; realistic adoption period for a new 3D scaffold; main barriers to the adoption of a new 3D matrix; whether 3D cell culture has reached its full market potential yet and what is still missing or where are the gaps/limitations in current 3D offerings; the relationship between spending on 3D consumable technologies versus other cell culture spending; budget for 3D cell culture consumables and its breakdown into components; 3D consumables most likely to be purchased in the future; suppliers of consumables and/or instruments that first come to mind and those most purchased from; and budget allocation to purchase new equipment to enable 3D culture.

The main questionnaire consisted of 30 multi-choice questions and 2 open-ended questions. In addition, there were 5 questions related solely to the administration of survey. The survey collected 154 validated responses, of these 53% provided comprehensive input. Survey responses were geographically split: 46% Europe; 31% North America; 12% Asia (excluding Japan); 6% Japan; and 5% Rest of World.

Respondents came from 83 University/Research Institute/Not-for-Profit Facilities; 21 Pharma; 15 Biotechs: 9 Other Organizations; 9 Hospitals/Clinics/Medical Schools; 5 Regen Med/Cell Therapy/Tissue Engineering Companies; 4 CROs; 3 Cosmetics Companies; 2 Government/Military/Defense Facilities; 2 Diagnostics Companies; and 1 Biomanufacturing/Bioprocessing Company. Most survey respondents had a senior job role or position which was in descending order: 22 professors/ assistant professors; 19 research scientists; 18 principal investigators; 16 others; 16 senior scientists/researchers; 11 department heads; 11 lab managers; 10 directors; 9 graduate/PhD students; and 8 post-docs.

Respondents represented labs with the following main activity: 37 cancer research; 31 basic research; 27 drug discovery; 13 tissue/organ engineering; 10 preclinical research/ADME/toxicology; 9 stem cell biology; 8 regenerative medicine; 6 other; 6 cell therapy; 5 clinical research; and 1 developmental biology. Survey results were expressed as an average of all survey respondents. In addition, were appropriate the data was reanalyzed after sub-division into the following 5 survey groups: 1) Academic Research; 2) Drug Discovery; 3) Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine; 4) Europe; and 5) North America. The median level of adoption was 30% of all cell culture wells processed involved a 3D technology.

The 3D structure respondents were most interested in generating in cell culture was spheroids. The main application investigated using 3D cell culture was cancer therapy. The level of agreement with some statements about 3D cell culture and 3D automation was recorded. Better mirrors the environment experienced by normal cells in the body was rated the most important advantage of 3D cell culture.

Hydrogel scaffolds were ranked as the approach that had demonstrated most promise to date in facilitating 3D cell culture. The 3D scaffold format most wanted was compatibility with the 96-well microplate. The median requirements for 3D scaffolds with different types of properties were recorded. Greatest use was made of transformed or recombinant cell lines in 3D cell culture work today (2013). The median typical size of an assay or project in 3D cell culture was 50 assay wells today (2013). The median number of assay wells setup per year with a 3D matrix was 200 today (2013).

The majority have not run any high throughput (primary) screens using 3D cell culture to date. Cancer therapy was the application area where 3D cell culture is expected to make the greatest impact. The assay type most used/investigated in a 3D cell culture matrix today (2013) was cell proliferation and cell viability. The analytical technologies most applied in 3D culture today (2013) were fluorescence microscopy, brightfield/phase contrast microscopy and plate readers. All aspects of existing plate readers/imaging systems were at best rated only moderately adequate, suggesting none performed as desired.

Respondent feedback on the most important tasks to automate with 3D cell culture and the challenges they pose for automation were documented. Of some approaches to the automation of 3D cell culture respondents were most aware of: InSphero’s GravityPLUS™ platform; Corning® Costar® ultra-low attachment 96-well plates; Reinnervate’s Alvetex® 96-well plates; and 3D Biomatrix’s Perfecta3D™384-well plates. Only a minority of respondents have outsourced 3D cell culture or related activity to date (2013). Ready-made kits for specific cell-based assays developed within a 3D matrix were the 3D product or service respondents were most interested in accessing. InSphero most comes to mind when thinking of assay-ready 3D constructs and outsourced services.

The 3D organotypic microtissue models respondents would like to see offered were documented with respect to organ or tissue, source, disease status required, and reasonable price for 96 tissues. 39% of respondents rated their success achieved with 3D cell culture as major (significant improvement). The median realistic adoption period for a new 3D scaffold was 6-9 months. Budget constraints – can’t afford to change formats, was rated as the main barrier to the adoption of a new 3D matrix. The majority think that 3D cell culture has not yet reached its full potential, feedback on what is still missing or where there are gaps/limitations in current 3D offerings were documented.

Around half of respondents total cell culture spending was still allocated to 2D cell culture. The median budget allocated for spending on 3D cell culture consumables today (2013) was $10K-$25K. The biggest proportion of this budget was allocated to hydrogel 3D scaffolds. A bottom-up model was developed around the respondent’s spending on 3D cell culture consumables to estimate the global market. In 2013 this market was estimated to be around $75M. Segmentation and CAGR estimates are given in the full report. Hydrogel 3D scaffolds (purchased separate of culture vessel) and microplates designed to encourage spheroid generation were the 3D consumables respondents were most interested in purchasing.

BD Bioscience was the supplier of 3D cell culture consumables that first comes to the mind. The most purchased from 3D cell culture consumables suppliers were BD Bioscience, Corning and InSphero. Combined these 3 suppliers have around 50% market share. The median budget allocated for spending on 3D cell culture instruments today (2013) was <$5K. The full report provides the data, details of the breakdown of the responses for each question, its segmentation and the estimates for the future (2015). It also highlights some interesting differences between the survey groups, particularly Academic Research versus Drug Discovery or Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine.

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