The next big boom area for plastics in the medical market could be regenerative medicine, the production of human organs in a laboratory.
Harvard Bioscience, a leader in the field, estimates that the total revenue opportunity for disposables used in organ transplants is $728 million per year. That's based on an estimated global transplant market of 145,590 and a disposable cost per procedure of $5,000.
Until very recently, this concept was in the realm of science fiction. But scientists at leading institutions such as Wake Forest University, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the University of South Carolina and Cornell have been making steady progress growing a person's own stem cells on a synthetic structure, often bioresorbable, using bioreactors. Scaffolds are often made on bioprinters, which print out polymers in three-dimensional forms dictated by a CAD file. ...