The global BioMEMS market is projected to grow at a CAGR above 25% over the forecast period (2016-2024). It was estimated at USD 2.5 billion in 2014. This can be credited to patients adopting medical instruments on a rental basis. Another market contributor is the demand for mobile care applications & mobile healthcare devices. BioMEMS or bio-medical electromechanical systems market is a subset of MEMS devices used in biomedical research. These devices are gaining popularity in the healthcare sector. They are offered as customized solutions to customers as per requirement.
BioMEMS encapsulates devices; such as micro-optics, actuators, structural elements, miniature sensors, and microfluidics with computation & controls for medical applications. It helps patients by providing improved device performance. Miniature sensors are of the following types: pressure, temperature, flow control, electrochemical, molecule specific, and biomechanics. Microfluidic devices include filters, pumps, valves, and others. Microactuators are of two types, namely micromanipulators and surgical microinstruments.
Introduction of accelerometers in pacemakers has improved the treatment of cardiac diseases. Microsystems have improved the drug delivery system by utilizing nanotechnology. Other factors driving the BioMEMS market are a growing geriatric populace, low cost, and high efficiency of these devices. However, long product development cycles and high R&D costs could impede market growth. But alliances between pharmaceutical and engineering companies may provide opportunities for further market expansion.
The BioMEMS market is segmented according to materials, products, applications, end-users, and regions. Materials used are silicon & glass, plastics & polymers, paper, and biological materials. Silicon is the most commonly used material in micromachining technology. It is used by major semiconductor companies due to its compatibility with electricity.
Products are divided into injectables, implantables, and others. Injectables are sub-divided into micro modules and needles. Accelerometers, drug delivery devices, biochips, gyroscopes & biosensors, and stents are implantable products. Accelerometers are witnessing sluggish growth because they are used only in defibrillators & implantable pacemakers. But this segment could expand due to novel applications, like ballistocardiography. Accelerometers are used in the iBOT Mobility system, a sophisticated type of wheelchair jointly developed by Johnson and Johnson’s Independence technology segment and DEKA.
‘Others’ includes micro motors, catheters, and inhalers. Drug delivery devices utilize disposable MEMS devices. Drug delivery devices with timed releases can aid people with diabetes mellitus. This would be favorable for flow sensors and could create new opportunities for market players.
Biosensors, like MEMS-based pressure sensors are used to detect blood pressure, intracranial pressure, and intraocular pressure. These sensors can be implanted in the eye to continuously monitor glaucoma levels. Companies involved in the production of these chips are Silicon Microstructures, Freescale Semiconductor Inc., and CardioMEMS.
Injectable micro reservoirs consist of gold or titanium cylinders with temperature sensitive polymeric membranes at both ends. Release of drugs can be controlled via electromagnetic radiation. Micro needles are used for administering drugs or proteins for therapeutic purposes. They are used in conjunction with microfluidic devices for blood extraction, cancer therapy, fluid sampling, bio-signal recording electrodes, and drug delivery. These needles are manufactured via reactive ion etching of silicon. They are a better alternative to intravenous or oral delivery of drugs. Fabrication technologies, such as soft lithography, biodegradable microfluidics, and micro molding will positively impact demand for implantables.
Major applications include therapeutics, tissue engineering, diagnostics, and others. Others include surgery and medical implants. BioMEMS sensors are used to monitor pregnancy, cholesterol rates & food allergy, and in DNA analysis. Sensors that provide crucial information to doctors for the right prognosis are gaining popularity. This would benefit the diagnostics segment in the coming years. Additionally, microfluidic devices are essential in POC (point-of-care) diagnostics. These can help detect rare viruses like HIV using body fluids.
MEMS technology is increasingly being used in hearing aids. According to NIH (National Institutes of Health), almost 36 million adults in the U.S. suffer from hearing problems. This can drive the global BioMEMS market during the forecast period. MEMS-based surgical tools used in minimally invasive surgeries could also be used in complex operations, such as angioplasty, laparoscopy, and neurosurgery. These may offer a better alternative to traditional surgery and cause minimal injury.
Healthcare, research centers, bioprocessing, environmental applications, and food & agricultural industry are the key end-users in the BioMEMS market. Lab-on-a-chip (LoC) biosensors are being developed to detect food-borne pathogens in farms or in packaging/distribution centers. These biosensors employ optical fibers as a means to safeguard the data on sensors.
Home diagnostics, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and in-vitro diagnostics are the four segments covered under healthcare. Safety concerns regarding viral diseases will trigger the demand for home diagnostics. Microsystem devices are used extensively in healthcare. Implementation of these devices in the pharmaceutical sector will depend on automation and sensibility. ‘In-vitro diagnostics’ is anticipated to be the largest end-user, followed by pharmaceuticals and research centers.
Regions covered under the market are North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East & Africa (MEA). North America will lead this industry on account of major healthcare manufacturers headquartered in this region. Europe is the second largest market after North America. Asia Pacific is projected to grow substantially during the forecast period because of economic progress.
Major players operating in the BioMEMS industry are Integrated Sensing Systems, Inc. (ISSYS); Bluechiip Ltd., Given Imaging, and Cepheid Inc. Mergers & partnerships are a common market strategy employed by players to maintain their market positions. Japan based, TDK Corporation recently acquired Tronics Microsystems. The former has expanded its product portfolio via this acquisition. In 2013, SPTS Technologies Ltd. and IMEC declared a joint agreement for further research on nano-sized components for BioMEMS. This could lead to improvements in molecular diagnostics and DNA sequencing.
Cepheid manufactures chips and plastic components for microfluidic devices. These are mainly used in biochemical analysis and in diagnostics. Integrated Sensing Systems, Inc. (ISS) in May 2016 developed the implantable hemodynamic monitor (IHM). The implant can monitor heart rate, filling pressure, and the rhythm on the left side of the heart. It is still in the testing phase and is provided for testing purposes only, by the United States government.
In 2015, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital designed a microchip that can detect CTCs (circulating tumor cells) in the blood. This may provide researchers an opportunity to better understand the metastasis of cancer. Innovations, such as continuous & implantable chemical sensing and protein detection arrays may add to the global demand.
Research Support Specialist, USA