Welcome to the regenerative medicine deal review for the month of November. Cytori Therapeutics and Lorem Vascular have teamed up to catalyze the commercialization of Cytori cell therapies using its proprietary Celution® System in Asia. There was also a notable deal made between the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and Cellular Dynamics International that will help establish the world’s largest induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) biobank, being developed from 3,000 individuals.
Lorem Vascular has committed up to $531 million to develop renal, cardiovascular and diabetes therapies in Asia utilizing Cytori Therapeutics’ (CYTX) Celution® System. The platform, which was just recently approved in Singapore, utilizes a patient’s own adipose-derived regenerative cells (ADRCs) and is designed for a point-of-care setting. In return for its investment, Lorem Vascular will receive exclusive rights to develop cell therapies from the Celution® System for a period of 30 years in specific territories. Lorem is picking up 8 million shares of Cytori at $3.00 as part of the deal, providing Cytori $24 million cash in two tranches before year-end. The company is planning to launch the Celution® System in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia immediately, and will launch in Singapore and Malaysia in the New Year.
Cellular Dynamics International (ICEL) has been awarded a $16 million grant and entered into a definitive agreement with CIRM in order to generate an iPSC biobank of 3,000 patient-specific cell lines. Patients will either be healthy, or selected from groups of individuals diagnosed with a variety of diseases including Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorders, and liver, cardiovascular, respiratory, and ocular diseases. Once complete, the biobank will be the largest iPS cell bank in the world.
Progenitor Cell Therapy (PCT), a subsidiary of NeoStem (NSB), has partnered with ATMI Inc. (ATMI), a global leader in single-use bioprocess development, in order to gain access to its Integrity® Xpansion technology. The platform is at the cutting-edge of 2D stem cell culture, and will provide clients of PCT access to the cell expansion technology required for scale-up to clinical quantities of cells. PCT is a leading contract manufacturing service provider to the cell therapy industry.
StemCells (STEM) has acquired a portfolio of intellectual property pertaining to purified human neural stem cells. The company previously held an exclusive worldwide license to the IP, which is based on the seminal work of Dr. Samuel Weiss at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary. The acquisition will relieve StemCells of any milestone payments and fees associated with the development of products around its Hu-CNS®-SC platform, a purified human neural stem cell product currently being investigated for use in multiple indications, including spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s and stroke.
Pixium Vision, a start-up company based in Paris, France has landed $20.3 million in financing to help develop its retinal implant system, IRIS, for patients with degenerative eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. The money will further advance IRIS in Europe, which is already being tested in the clinic with initial results expected in 2014. IRIS is composed of an implant in the form of an electrode array at the retina that interacts with retinal cells, a wearable visual ‘transducer’ typically in the form of a pair of eyeglasses and an external power unit currently being investigated for compatibility with smartphones. The financing was led by Sofinnova Partners and also included Bpifrance, Abingworth, and Omnes Capital.
The eye is an area of intense investigation in the field of regenerative medicine. Current RM-based paradigms for treating retinal degeneration include cell therapy, gene therapy, compounds and biologics that can stimulate retinal progenitor epithelium or photoreceptor cells, and more esoteric approaches like that of Pixium above. Biomaterials and synthetic or natural scaffolds are also being investigated as vehicles for cells and molecules in the clinic. Companies with a focus on regenerative medicine and ophthalmology should be on investors’ radar.