Regenerative Medicine Deal Review: January

Author: Mark Curtis, 02/11/14

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Welcome to your Regenerative Medicine Deal Review for the month of January! There was lots of flow in January, including yet another research collaboration from Cellular Dynamics International – this time with the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences to use the company’s iCell® and MyCell® products for research into human nutrition. Aastrom entered into a $15 million equity agreement and Fibrocell Science expanded its collaboration with Intrexon to develop a cell-based gene therapy for a rare genetic disorder. Read on to find out more.

Partnering

Fibrocell Science (FCSC) and Intrexon (XON) are expanding their previous ‘Exclusive Channel Collaboration’ to create a cell-based gene therapy for a rare genetic disorder known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Under the collaboration, Fibrocell will provide autologous fibroblasts that will be genetically engineered using Intrexon’s proprietary UltraVector® platform to express tenascin-X, a protein that is absent in EDS patients causing weakened connective tissue. Fibrocell is carving itself an interesting niche by developing gene therapy approaches for rare genetic disorders, similar to bluebird Bio (BLUE).

Financing

Aastrom (ASTM) entered into a $15 million stock purchase agreement with Chicago-based Lincoln Park Capital, which will provide the company access to money it can use to support other fundraising activities in support of clinical development programs. Under the deal terms, Aastrom has the right to sell $15 million in equity to Lincoln Park over a 30-month period. Aastrom’s platform autologous cell therapy approach (ixmyelocel-T) is derived from the bone marrow of patients and is being deployed across a variety of diseases. It is currently being investigated in a Phase 2 study in patients with ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy.

Neuralstem (CUR) closed a $20 million financing with a group of institutional investors at a price of $2.91 per share. The offering came with a half warrant, allowing investors to purchase an additional 50% of the shares issued in the deal. Warrants are exercisable for a period of five years at a price of $3.64 per share. Neuralstem just announced it treated its first patient in a study investigating its spinal cord-derived stem cell therapy in patients with motor deficits from ischemic stroke.

Progenitor Cell Therapy, a subsidiary of NeoStem (NBS), has struck up a Services Agreement with Kite Pharma in order to provide cell therapy process development and manufacturing expertise to Kite’s Autologous T Cell Therapy platform. The latter is developing novel cancer immunotherapeutics, specifically chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. Due to the fact that they can be engineered to express any tumour-specific antigen, CAR T cells are viewed as the ideal way of delivering cancer antigens into the human body to elicit immune responses against specific cancer types.

Finally, Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) has announced a partnership with the Nestle Health Sciences Institute to develop assays for human nutrition using CDI’s iCell® and MyCell® products. The iCell® product line is a suite of different cells that can be used to develop screening assays, including cardiomyocytes, neurons, hepatocytes, and endothelial cells. MyCell® is a platform technology for the development of patient-specific cell lines using cellular reprogramming. No deal terms were disclosed.

This partnership is the third in a string of collaborations for CDI, which is aggressively licensing out its cellular products for different applications, including chemical, environmental, and pharmaceutical toxicology assessment. This underscores a trend in the utilization of advanced human cellular products outside the realm of therapeutics.

 

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Mark Curtis

Mark Curtis

Mark is a Business Development Analyst at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), where he collaborates with the team to help evaluate the commercial potential of regenerative medicine and cell therapy technologies. He began his career at Princess Margaret Hospital studying cellular reprogramming of human skin cells. Following this project, he left the laboratory and took on a role with Bloom Burton & Co., a healthcare-focused investment dealer. While there he supported the advisory team in carrying out scientific diligence on early-stage biotechnology companies. Prior to joining CCRM he was a consultant to Stem Cell Therapeutics, a Toronto-based biotechnology company focused on developing therapeutics targeting cancer stem cells. Mark received a Master’s degree from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, where he studied the directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells, and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, from Queen’s University. Follow Mark on Twitter @markallencurtis
Mark Curtis

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