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Category Archives: Regenerative Medicine

Is the cell therapy sector outperforming the major indices?

So here's what I did today.  I built a portfolio of public companies focused exclusively or predominately in the cell therapy space.  I excluded any companies that are in the sector but their products/services constitute less than a significant majority of their revenue and/or expenses.  The portfolio sits at 29 companies.  Here's the list:

Here's how the portfolio performs against the Dow Jones, Standard and Poor's, and NASDAQ indices so far this year.

When looking at the period 1 January 2012 to 10 August 2012, the cell therapy portfolio is up 42%, Dow Jones up 8%, Standard and Poor's up 12% and NASDAQ up 16%.

In the context of how much we hear about how harsh this sector is or has been on investors, I found today's analysis interesting and, honestly, pleasantly surprising.

This snapshot is useful but has its limitations. I'm relying on Google Finance for accuracy of the information provided.  Do your own due diligence. Invest accordingly.  I hope this helps.


This snapshot has been brought to you by Cell Therapy Group: all cell therapy, all the time! 🙂


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FDA 1. RSI 0. Regenerative Sciences (Regenexx) vs FDA (2012)

As followers of this blog will know I've been blogging about Regenerative Sciences and predicting their eventual run-in with the FDA since my first post in September 2008 (Cell Therapy is Not the Practice of Medicine) and again in February 2009 (Regenexx vs the FDA 2009).  When the FDA finally proceeded with an injunction against RSI in August 2010,I helped spread the news (here).

I've watched the development of the fight between RSI and the FDA with interest.  In September 2001 I posted a rather lengthy commentary about the potential impact of the case (Potential far-reaching implications of the ongoing fight over point-of-care autologous cell therapy.

Since then I have welcomed other bloggers and commentators who are now following and commenting on the case much more closely and frequently than I including @LeighGTurner (on Twitter) and Paul Knoepfler (@PKnoepfler on Twitter and his Knoeplfer Lab Stem Cell Blog).  Recently I enjoyed being interviewed by Paul on the issue of unregulated stem cell activity and touched on the case for his blog.

Consequently I read with interest yesterday's federal court ruling upholding the FDA's injunction against RSI and the immediate commentary from the New Scientist, Stanford's Scope Blog and Knopfler's multiple posts (here and here). As a long-term follower of this case, I've been asked to comment.  Here is my brief reaction:

This is a case that was always destined for the appellate courts regardless of which way the initial court ruled.    The fact the federal court ruled in the FDA's favor certainly now sets the onus on RSI and what is anticipated to be a gamut of intervenors but taking this case to the appellate courts is what the legal team have anticipated and legal arguments designed for all along.

This is just the beginning of what will be a long and interesting battle.  The ruling was nothing more than the granting of an injunction in response to the government's motion for summary judgement.  In granting the injunction the court  agreed with the government's position that it was acting under the authority given it under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(g) but it provided little-to-no rationale for its ruling.

The court chose, in its wisdom, not to address the bulk of the RSI's legal arguments which are largely jurisdictional in nature. These are the kinds of arguments which the lower courts prefer be dealt with by appellate courts and frankly the judge did us all a favor by ruling quickly, succinctly and punting the case where we all knew it was inevitably headed.

In my opinion, other than chalking one up in the government's win column there is little to be gleaned from this ruling in terms of how RSI's arguments will be received in appellate court.  The interesting day is yet to come.

In terms of a short-term practical impact, frankly I see very little.  RSI has already ceased distributing Regenexx within the US so there will be little-to-no impact there.  As for the potential impact on other companies or clinics who might be operating on the fringes of FDA regulation within the US, I suspect it will be business as usual.

Most of the clinics/companies offering cell-based treatments/products which are arguably in contravention of FDA regulation are operating under the clear knowledge of what they are doing and where the FDA stands with respect to the treatments/products they offer and yet they persist and continue.

 For the truly fraudulent there is the risk of criminal charges and/or litigation but for those companies or practitioners who are operating in this shade of grey which are not shady (and they do exist), the  risks associated with this practice are barely higher than in the routine practice of medicine. 

In reality, with the exception of the most fraudulent examples, it takes a fair long-time for the FDA to catch up with these folks and there is good money to be made in the interim.  When they get caught, they will stop. If they've recouped their initial investment (which is nominal and the margins are high) there is very little penalty to this course of action.  Perhaps they set up shot elsewhere or simply enjoy the proceeds.  I doubt we will see much of a slow-down of this kind of activity.  Indeed it may strengthen the resolve of those committed to the cause.

In my opinion yesterday's ruling was in interesting and important milestone in a continuing evolution in the debate of how best to regulate the use of cells in treating people but I'm not sure it's the seminal pivot point that some believe.  I suspect we will not see any radical shift in terms of FDA or industry activity until (if then) the appellate courts rule.

Just my two cents....



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Bioreactor Design and Bioprocess Controls for Industrialized Cell Processing


A short and sweet note to point you to a great article on bioreactor technologies related to cell therapy bioprocessing by CTG consultant and Director of Stem Cell-based Drug Discovery, John E. Hambor, who you can now follow on Twitter @StemCellonDrugs.

"Bioreactor Design and Bioprocess Controls for Industrialized Cell Processing" was published in the June issue of BioProcess International.  

The BPI team has made a real and meaningful commitment to representing cell therapy bioprocessing and we applaud them for their contribution to this emerging discipline.

If this is a topic of interest to you, I recommend you also check out a conference being held this Fall by BPI's sister company, IBC LifeSciences, entitled "Cell Therapy BioProcessing" to be held September 11-12 in Arlington, Virginia.


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Industry-sponsored cardiovascular cell therapies. Some metrics.


Cell therapies for cardiovascular-related conditions is a closely watched, much studied, oft-discussed, and hotly contested segment of the cell therapy industry.

The data to-date are admittedly confusing.  From a clinical perspective, the studies for which we have data have been relatively small involving a mish-mash of indications, endpoints, eligibility criterion, methods and/or route of administration, as well as the time of administration relative to event or disease progression.

Further compounding any interpretation of the data, from a technical perspective, is the fact the products have been widely varied in terms of being autologous vs allogeneic, expanded and not, genetically modified and not, from a plethora of different sources, and utilizing a wide variety of cell types from skelatal myoblasts, cardiomyocytes, mesenchymal stromal cells, mononuclear cells, etc. 

All this makes it extremely difficult to draw any conclusions with respect to what's working and what's not.  We will not attempt to do so.

All we do below is attempt to give a snapshot of the industry-sponsored cell therapy trials currently ongoing for cardiovascular-related conditions.  So here it is:

Pharmicell's Heartcelligram is the only cell therapy to have received regulatory approval for commercial distribution for the treatment of a cardiac-related indication.  Heartcelligram is an autologous cell therapy approved in 2011 by the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) for the treatment of Acute Mycardial Infarction (AMI).  The price is reportedly $19,000 and the trial data behind the approval has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Phase III or II/III:
There are currently only 3 active and recruiting cardiac-related, industry-sponsored cell therapy trials.  Interestingly they all involve autologous products, two involve devices, two involve centralized manufacturing, two involve bone marrow cells as a source, two are only in European clinical sites, and two are targeting ischemic-related conditions.

  • Baxter Therapeutics' Auto-CD34+ cells
  • Cytori
Two companies warrant particular mention at this stage as they appear to be in transition between phases II and III.

Cardio3 Biosciences initially designed a trial of their autologous C-Cure in heart failure secondary to ischemic cardiomyopathy to be a phase II/III trial enrolling 240 patients.  While the trial began in late 2008 and is still registered as active but no longer recruiting on the entry has not been updated for almost a year.  

In 2010 the company announced that after enrolling 45 patients - of which 21 were in the treatment arm (24 in the control arm) - they decided to close the study to future enrollment and prepare for a phase III trial.  This decision was reportedly based on "very encouraging data". 

Dr. Christian Homsy, CEO of Cardio3 BioSciences provided the following guidance: “The highly promising data we report today build on the favourable safety profile we have observed through this Phase II trial and documents in patients our belief that we have with  C-Cure a product candidate with the potential to make a real difference in the treatment of heart failure... As noted in the company’s press release of 29 June 2010, with the Phase II stage completed and to allow for potential modifications to the trial protocol, Cardio3 BioSciences has not proceeded to Phase III recruitment into the trial but has continued to gather all data for the six month analysis. Through the Phase II trial, we gained significant  experience in working with a highly innovative stem cell therapy in a clinical setting, and we are using this acquired knowledge in the design of our planned Phase III programme."  The phase III trial of C-Cure is expected to commence in the second half of 2012.

Mesoblast has also announced with its strategic partner, Teva, that they are proceeding with plans to conduct a phase III study of its allogeneic cell therapy product, Revascor, in chronic heart failure.  Most anticipate this clinical trial application to be filed sometime in late 2012.

Phase I or II:
There are over 20 active, industry-sponsored earlier-stage trials (phase I, I/II or II) for cardiovascular-related conditions.  At least 5 of these are expected to have clinical readouts this year.   

Hope this is useful.


This post has been brought to you by your friends at CTG.  All cell therapy. All the time. 🙂  

-- Lee @celltherapy

p.s.  As always we welcome your feedback, comments, and corrections.  


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Cell-based Cancer Immunotherapies. Some metrics..


Whatever one makes of Dendreon's challenges in bringing Provenge to market and then its ups and downs in the market, the whole affair has brought a much bigger spotlight to cancer immunotherapies and cell-based immunotherapies in particular.

This is true on all fronts.  Cancer immunotherapy conferences are popping up everywhere.  A growing number of of analysts are now covering a growing number of companies in the space with coverage ranging from bearishly critical to ebullient bullishness. Some venture capital firms are now loosening their purse strings for immunotherapy plays and both pharma venture funds and business development departments are now spending an increasing amount of time actively monitoring and exploring potential plays in the sector.

One of the best annual industry summaries of what is happening in the sector is sponsored by MD Becker Partners through its annual Cancer Immunotherapy: A Long Awaited Reality conference held each in New York, this year on October 4 and select video replays it hosts on its YouTube channel.

Some Segment Metrics
As part of our ongoing industry intelligence and consulting services we actively track the activity and progress of industry-sponsored clinical trials of all cell therapies in addition to the products already on the market.  Here's how our data stacks up regarding the cell-based immunotherapies segment of the sector:
  • Dendreon's Provenge
    • Autologous immunotherapy for prostate cancer (1 monthly dose for 3 months)
    • Efficacy: prolongs survival
    • Markets: only the United States (approved April 2010)
    • Next markets: submitted the marketing authorisation application to the EMA (European Medicines Agency) in early 2012 and hopes to introduce Provenge in the European market in 2013
    • 2011 Revenue $290,000
    • Projected 2012 Revenue: ~$380,000

Phase III or II/III:

Phase II or I/II

  • 50 industry-sponsored clinical trials of cell-based immunotherapies actively recruiting, active no longer recruiting, active not yet recruiting, or anticipated to commence yet in 2012
    • ~10 of these are expected to have readouts yet this year
    • Trial sites in US, Canada, UK, continental Europe, Israel, South Korea, India, Australia
    • Expected enrollment of 3,500+

The following are notable cash infusions into the sector for 2012 to-date:
  • Bellicum Pharmaceuticals.  $20M series B. 
  • CellMedica. $15M grant from CPRIT in Texas.
  • Argos Therapeutcs. $25M Series D.
  • Northwest Bio.  $5.5M grant from German gov't Saxony Development Bank

Hope this is useful.


This post has been brought to you by your friends at CTG.  All cell therapy. All the time. 🙂  

-- Lee @celltherapy

p.s.  As always we welcome your feedback, comments, and corrections.  


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Another > $100M month for companies in the cell therapy space


Last month we reported here on this blog that March was more than a $100M month for companies in the stem cell and cell-based regenerative medicine space in terms of monies raised.  

What we missed was a $15M grant from Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for UK-based CellMedica.  This pumps last month's total to just under $140M.

This month, according to our sources, betters even March's better numbers by coming in at just over $170M though that is largely on the back of one large deal in Asia.  Here's how the numbers break down.

Allocure kicked off the month with a decent $25M Series B round from new syndicate member Lundbeckfond Ventures, as well as previous investors SV Life Sciences and Novo A/S.  Allocure is headed into phase 2 for acute kidney injury with an allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell therapeutic they currently call AC607.  

Little-known Canadian-based, Sernova then announced a $3.6M PIPE to fund continued development of its proprietary Cell Pouch System(TM), and, in particular, to fund the upcoming first-in-man clinical trial for patients with diabetes receiving an islet transplant.  The application to proceed with this trial is currently under review by Health Canada.

Next up was NeoStem closing a $6.8M public offering for "expanding" their contract manufacturing business, Progenitor Cell Therapy, and "enrolling the PreSERVE AMR-001 Phase 2 clinical trial for preserving heart function after a heart attack".  

The biggest deal of the month was a $65M convertible debt financing of China Cord Blood by none other than global powerhouse Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) through it KKR China Growth Fund L.P., a China-focused investment fund managed by KKR.  We believe this is deal is certainly an investment in the future of China's healthcare market potential but that it is bigger than that.  We believe a significant driver for this deal may likely have been the opportunity to consolidate this sector globally - to use a significant operation and 'war chest' to fund mergers and acquisitions on both the public and private cord blood banking sector worldwide.

The only classic first-round venture raise this month was a milestone-based $5M Series A by Bay City Capital into Phil Coelho's new company, SynGen, to fund his latest iteration of stem cell processing devices.

Forbion Capital then announced that it was leading a series D round, joined by fellow existing investors TVM Capital, Lumira Capital, Intersouth Partners, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, Morningside Group, and Aurora Funds, of $25M into Argos Therapeutics in order to kick them into their phase 3.  The hope here is that with some early phase 3 data they may be able to attract the elusive partner they couldn't land with a mere bucket of phase 2 data.

Innovacell landed the only European deal by announcing an 8.3M Euro (~$11M) investment by Buschier, Fides, HYBAG, and Uni Venture.  This will be used for the continued clinical development of its cell-therapy (ICES13) for the treatment of stress-urinary incontinence currently in a ph 3 study in several European countries.

ReNeuron announced a private placement also open to existing shareholders that brought in just under $10M (£6.1M) to support their phase 1 trial in stroke and other pre-clinical, clinical, and regulatory milestones. 

Finally, the Bio-Matrix Scientific Group, in an apparent ongoing quest to continuously reinvent itself, announced at month's end that they had formed a new subsidiary named Regen BioPharma and that they had raised $20M in a financing commitment from Southridge Partners II to purchase its common stock as required over the term of the agreement at a price set by an agreed formula.  This money is said to be dedicated to the acquisition of discovery-stage intellectual property and driving it through to phase 2 trials in an exercise of maximum value creation over a period they claim to be as short as 18-24 months.


So in the end, the month saw companies in the space raise just over $170M and even if you back out the stem cell banking deal its still over $100M for cell therapy companies.  

Over the 2 months, then, we've seen just over $311M raised through a variety of means by companies at every stage of maturity and for intended purposes ranging from acquisition, consolidation, early stage clinical development, and phase 3 testing.


p.s. If you are aware of other deals in the sector this month, let us know and we'll update this accordingly.


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