Tall, dark, and handsome…
Dr. Anthony Atala is not a guy you could easily mistake for Dr. Frankenstein.
Yet, in his white lab coat, Atala is doing exactly what author Mary Shelley wrote about so long ago. A mad scientist in his own right, he is busy growing body parts in his Wake Forest lab.
A finger here, a bladder there, Atala is currently growing dozens of different tissues. And from heart valves to muscles to ears, his Institute for Regenerative Medicine is literally about to turn the world on its head.
Working at one of the world’s largest research facilities dedicated to regenerative medicine, the modern Dr. Frankenstein is adamant that his research will one day replace diseased or damaged tissue using homegrown replacement parts.
After all, as Dr. Atala often pondered, “A salamander can grow back its leg, why can’t a human do the same?”
Now, some twenty-four years later, that notion is no longer just a wild hypothetical; it’s a feat of modern science, stripped from the pages of a 194-year-old novel.
Today, regenerative medicine companies are the stocks to watch as this amazing new technology unfolds.
The promise of regenerative medicine
Take the story of Claudia Castillo, for instance.
In 2008, this 30-year-old mother of two became the first patient to receive a whole organ transplant without the need for powerful anti-rejection drugs.
Damaged by a bout of tuberculosis, her entire windpipe was repaired with a replacement part created with the help of her own stem cells.
And given the choice between losing a lung or becoming a guinea pig for a radical new medical technique, Castillo chose the latter — becoming one of the pioneers for future regenerative surgeries.
Her life these days is not only back to normal… She recently called her doctors from a nightclub to tell them she had been out dancing all night. Before the ground-breaking surgery, Castillo could barely climb the stairs.
Claudia’s story is just the beginning…
In fact Dr. Atala’s team is currently working on re-growing over 23 different organs including the liver, heart, kidney, and bladder.
Along the way, they have conquered a number of milestones in the field. From the website, these firsts include:
Developing biological strategies to enable certain human cell types that were previously thought not to be expandable outside the body to be grown in large quantities;
The first demonstration that complex tissue structures could be engineered using cells;
Developing the first tissue-engineered product to go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval for clinical applications, consisting of cells and biomaterials for injectable therapy;
Being first in the world to use native acellular biomaterials in patients for the regeneration of tissues;
Creating the first full tissue-engineered organ. The institute is the only research facility in the world to have created a wholly laboratory-grown organ, engineered bladder tissue that has been successfully implanted in patients;
Identifying and characterizing a new class of non-controversial stem cells derived from amniotic fluid and placenta, which show promise for the treatment of many diseases. These stem cells have been proven to differentiate into many tissue types, including blood vessel, bone, liver, and muscle. A bank of 100,000 specimens could potentially provide 99% of the U.S. population with a genetic match for transplantation.
“The reason this technology works is that it’s not really surgery,” Dr. Atala explains. Doctors using this development are essentially “just priming the pump” by putting the appropriate cells into the appropriate place, and asking the body to do the rest.
But while regenerative medicine is obviously very real, it is still in its infancy.
The market for technologies that repair the body now stands at just $1.8 billion…
That promises to change in hurry, according to Life Science Intelligence. The firm projects the global market for tissue-regenerative products could be worth more than $118 billion in just three years.
Needless to say, that leaves the sector primed for a bull market run for the ages. Even at half those levels, the sector is going to grow to the tune of 2850% by 2013.
Now try — if you can — to imagine how much money is going to be made in this arena over the next three years and beyond…
Let’s face it: this picture of the future is going to make early investors a small nest egg.
Thanks to the work of Dr. Atala and numerous others, the biotech bull market continues…
Your bargain-hunting analyst,
Editor, Wealth Daily