Global Research Reagent Market Trends: Reflections on the Last Decade.


Min Read

In this blog:

  • What trends have we seen in life science product use over the past decade?
  • Which companies have been growing their market share?
  • Which countries have seen surging research activity?

How has the research reagent market changed over the last decade?

Ten years ago, we started collecting product citations from the scientific literature. This allowed us to gain unique insight into how researchers are using research antibodies & reagents across the globe. 

To celebrate CiteAb turning ten, today we take a look back at the striking changes in the life science research market, as well as what has remained constant.

Here’s our breakdown for antibodies, proteins, biochemicals, cell lines & models and kits & assays:

An infographic to summarise the trends discussed in this blog covering ten years of trends in the research reagent sector

Global research antibody market trends

Our research antibodies database, CiteAb’s largest and longest-running dataset, covers over 7 millions products, 4 million citations and 340 suppliers

Encompassing monoclonal antibodies, polyclonal antibodies and recombinants, here’s just a few of the interesting trends we’ve seen over the years: 

A summary of the country, reagent company and antibody type trends we've picked up on from our reagent market data.

What are the geographical trends in research antibody use?

One notable pattern we’ve picked up on over the years is the rise of the Asian research antibody market.

Researchers in Asian universities and institutes have been consistently citing more and more antibodies. In contrast, both North America and Europe have been seeing a decrease in share relative to the Chinese market.

Back in 2014, we shared our first market analysis report on our blog. Dr Andrew Chalmers, our founder, commented on market growth in China. We predicted that in the following 5-10 years they would overtake the US.

Our predictions came to fruition in 2021, when China overtook the US by citation share, with that gap widening in 2022.

Interestingly, we found that antibody share in China has increased at a faster rate than the biochemicals and protein market (although we are still seeing growth there).

The majority of other countries in the top 20 have been seeing a stable or declining trend. 

Which types of research antibodies have grown in popularity? 

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a shift towards monoclonal antibody usage. Monoclonal citation share overtook polyclonals in 2016, with the divergence continuing until 2020/2021.

As we may have expected, recombinant antibodies have also been growing in use.

Recombinant antibodies provide a renewable alternative to monoclonals. Due to the nature of their production (in vitro using gene sequences) their supply is not finite and they offer similar specificity and selectivity to monoclonals. 

We have seen a move towards increased recombinant production to better support researchers; their availability may be part of the reason for the increasing share.

Recombinant antibody citation share 2013-2022

This combined shift in usage towards monoclonal antibodies and recombinant antibodies should be a good sign for long term reproducibility in the life sciences.

We’ve also observed citation share for secondary antibodies slowly increasing; rising from 9% in 2013 to over 14% in 2022. 

Which antibody companies have led the market?  

When we look back a decade, Santa Cruz Biotechnology led the antibody market with a significant share. Interestingly, we have seen a big shift with the top spot being claimed by different companies.

In more recent years Abcam and Cell Signaling Technology have been vying for this top spot. 

These two industry leaders claim an impressive market share of >20% apiece.

It is worth noting that Santa Cruz Biotechnology continues to retain their place in the top five, joined by big hitters Thermo Fisher Scientific and MilliporeSigma.

Suppliers we have noticed to be rising through the ranks include BioLegend, now part of Revvity, ABclonal, GeneTex and Proteintech, to name a few. 

You can read some more in-depth analysis into antibody supplier share here: 

Global research biochemical market trends

Our biochemicals citation data covers ~2 million products, with over 1 million citations

This dataset includes product types such as peptides, amino acids, bioactive small molecules, detergents, buffers, dyes, lipids and more. 

Here’s what the data revealed from the past decade:

Biochemical market trends - leading companies, growing suppliers and countries seeing increasing biochemicals use

What are the geographical trends in biochemicals use?

When we looked into our continent data for biochemicals, we found a striking change.

As of 2022, Asia overtook Europe. This demonstrates greater product use and nearly matches North America’s citation count.

If we look back further, Asia’s share had been fairly stable up until this point. 

Citation share trends in the biochemicals market for North America, Asia and Europe between 2013 and 2022

Delving deeper into country-specific market share, we found that citation share in China vs the US mirrors the Asia vs North America continent share closely.

Who are the growing biochemical companies? 

Leading the biochemicals market, convincingly, are MilliporeSigma. Thermo Fisher have been growing their share and claim the second spot. Taking third position is Selleck Chemicals, who have increased their rank over the years.

Beyond the top three, we’ve noticed a number of other biochemical companies with impressive growth trajectories in this market. 

One such supplier that has caught our eye is MedChemExpress. We will be interested to see if they continue this trajectory moving forward, and what this will mean for their ranking.

MedChemExpress citation share growth in the biochemical market 2013-2022

Other suppliers growing in this market include Corning and BD Biosciences.

You can read more in-depth analysis covering market share for biochemical companies here: 

Global research protein market trends

With ~800k proteins reagents, encompassing enzymes, growth factors, binding proteins like streptavidin and protein mixtures like bovine serum, proteins in our database have generated over 290k citations.

So, what can this data show us about the research protein market?

Overall trends in the protein reagent market over the past decade

What are the geographical trends in protein reagent use? 

Interestingly, in the protein space we found a broadly similar trend over the past decade to the biochemicals market. 

Asia’s citation share is now very close to Europe; will they mirror the biochemicals market and surpass Europe in the near future?

Protein reagent market continent share trends 2013-2022

Drilling deeper into the protein market country share, we found that China is making gains on the US.

Which research proteins are highly cited in the literature?

When we turned our eye to the protein product types used in research, preliminary analysis from new data suggests a move towards recombinants and away from native proteins. 

This reflects the antibody market, where recombinant antibody usage is also increasing. 

Recombinant proteins can offer benefits of increased production, modified gene sequences and consistency, potential reasons for what may be a growing citation count in the literature.

Which reagent protein companies have grown? 

The top three companies in the protein market by citation share are currently MilliporeSigma, New England Biolabs and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

As in the biochemicals market, we’ve noticed a number of reagent suppliers that have made impressive gains.

One such vendor is Sino Biological. Their fast response in providing COVID related proteins can be seen clearly in their significant growth in share from 2020. We have commented on their rise in the growth factor market as well over on our blog.

Sino Biological citation share growth in the protein reagent market 2013-2022

Another supplier that caught our eye, increasing in share, was New England BioLabs.

Global Cell Lines & Models market trends

With over 300k citations generated from over 400k cell lines and model products in our database, we’re able to gain insight into tissues, lysates, cell products, animal models markets and more.

What did this dataset reveal about the market?

Cell Lines and research models market trends - product use, leading companies and county share

What are the geographical trends in cell line use? 

Our cell lines and models market data revealed that the US is outputting the most citations, and has dominated the cell line market with a 30-35% share for the past decade. 

Coming in behind the US were Germany, Japan and the UK respectively – big hitters for research across all reagent types we collect data on.

Reflecting the same trend we have seen in the protein, antibody and biochemical markets, we found that China have been growing their citation share, rising from a 7.28% share in 2014 to 13.21%. 

Interestingly, this is a slower growth rate compared to the antibody market. Could this indicate this market has more significant growth to come, if trends in the antibody market are to be followed by other reagent types?

Which cell line companies have led the market? 

ATCC, The American Type Culture Collection, has maintained a dominant citation share over the last ten years. As of 2022 they claimed a massive 85% of the market. 

Following behind is DSMZ (German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures), with a relatively stable market share over the past decade.

We noticed that both MilliporeSigma, Invitrogen Antibodies and CLS Cell Lines Service GmbH have managed to grow their citation share in this space as well.

Pie chart to show the most cited cell line companies in 2022
Pie chart to show the most cited cell line companies in 2022

Which cell line products have been well cited? 

When we looked a little further into our data, we noticed some interesting trends in product use for certain cell lines. 

The widely used HeLa cell line has seen fluctuations and an overall gradual decrease in citation share over the past decade.

An industry standard for many decades, this could indicate that researchers are more recently switching from this well known cell line to alternatives. In fact, both Vero C1008 and HEK293T have overtaken this cell line in citation share.

HEK293T may have seen growing popularity due its versatility. This cell line claimed a 6.70% citation share as of 2023, growing from 0.76%. 

For Vero C1008, we analysed its growing use in more detail over on our blog covering the top 100 most used cell lines of 2022. Here we suggested that this increase could be due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cell line being utilised in related work.

Another market we have our eye on is the KO cell line space. The rise of CRISPR technology has made knockouts much easier to generate, with some companies now having catalogues for these products. 

We have commented on our blog on the rise of KO cell line catalogues, and we’ll certainly be tracking citations in this space to see how researchers are using these products.

Global Life Science Kits & Assays Trends

Our kits & assays database covers 50 different kit types, ranging from: cell-based assays, to multiplex immunoassays, protein assays and more. ELISA kits remain the largest proportion of this database.

We have now collected nearly 1 million kits, amassing 600k citations from over 300 suppliers.

Here’s some of the trends we picked up on spanning the past decade: 

Research kits & assays market trends covering country share, leading companies and kit types

What are the geographical trends in life science research kit use? 

China and the US were the two biggest players in the research kits market, a common thread we’ve picked up on throughout this blog. 

We noticed a significant shift in the market in 2021, with China surpassing the US.

China had been growing consistently over the years, rising from a share of 11.62% in 2014 to 32.23% in 2023. Interestingly, this rapid growth more closely mirrors the antibody market.

Joining them in the top five by citation share were Germany, Japan and South Korea

Which kits and assays companies have led the market over the past ten years? 

Taking into account all types of kits & assays that we collect data on, Thermo Fisher were consistently the highest cited company. This shows their support for researchers in a variety of research areas.

We’ve also seen impressive growth for Abcam and Beyotime Biotechnology, who both now claim over 8% of the market. 

If we narrow our focus slightly to ELISA kit market companies, we saw a clear leader in R&D Systems, part of Bio-Techne.

Interestingly, we’ve seen the number of cited companies double in this space over the past decade. 

With more suppliers launching new products to help the scientific community, we could certainly expect to see changes in the market and increased competition.

Which kits & assays products were highly cited by scientists? 

Looking back at recent years of analysis shared in our ‘top 100 kits’ blogs, we’ve noted that nucleic acid related kit types are highly cited in the literature. Cell proliferation and viability kits, and detection and staining kits were also used in many scientific studies. 

We have also seen a growing interest in multiplex immunoassays over the years, with an increase in the size and competition in this market.

We’ll be tracking our reagent database to see if this translates into citation counts, and will aim to report on this trend on our blog in the future. 

Sum up: outlook on life science industry trends from the past decade

There is certainly a lot to digest from the data we have analysed, and there’s many more fascinating trends we could have also unpacked for this blog! 

As always, we’d love to hear from you about what you found valuable and what you’d like us to share in the future.

To finish, here’s a short round-up of some key trends we’ve picked up on across all reagent types: 

  • The growth of product citations in Asia, and particularly in China. The antibody and kits market have been seeing more rapid growth, potentially indicating there could be more to come for the cell lines, biochemicals and protein markets.
  • Shifts in company market share, with new leaders and growth for certain companies across multiple markets.
  • An increase in the use of recombinant antibodies and (preliminary analysis suggests) proteins. Plus, impact from COVID-19 on cited products in the literature for cell lines and proteins.

Interested in further trend data on the life science market? 

If you’d like to discuss our data in some more detail, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team.

We can provide custom datasets to answer specific questions, full database access or even life science market reports.

And finally, thank you to everyone who has been a part of the CiteAb community, followed our blog, or been our partner in receiving market data over the past decade. 

We are excited to continue bringing you insight in the market for the next ten. Sign up to our newsletter below to be kept in the loop!

  • Skye and the CiteAb team
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