Big Pharma acquires stem cell, RegenMed and cell therapy assets

by Alexey Bersenev on October 30, 2013 · 0 comments

in RegenMed digest

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While ago, I’ve written about relationships between Pharma/ Biotech and cell therapy industry. Few years back, Pharma still was curious and “sniffing air” around, but what about now? This year, I’ve been hearing from some folks: “When Big Pharma and Biotech will get serious about cell therapy?” To me, it’s not a question anymore – it has already happened! Big Pharma moved from curiosity to commitment. I’d highlight some signs of this commitment:

  • Rapid increase of number Big Pharma/ Biotech with cell therapy/ stem cell assets;
  • Opening of large separate units and programs (Shire Regenerative Medicine, Neusentis of Pfizer);
  • Trend for more partnership with academic institutions;
  • Pharma is stepping up for more risky “cell businesses”, such as autologous models and  therapies in early stages of development.
  • 2007-2012 trend for increase a number of acquisitions.

How Pharma and RegenMed can benefit from each other? I’d put just a few thoughts –
Pharma’s benefits:

  • Break a stagnation in traditional drug development and explore new class of therapeutic agents;
  • Eliminate potential competitors on a market;
  • Lobby regulation of cell therapies in favor of Big Pharma model;
  • R&D: Using cell/ tissue models as a new effective way to screen new drugs and test toxicity of drugs in development;
  • Monetary benefit from distribution and sales (Dong-A Pharmaceuticals in S. Korea).

RegenMed/ cell therapy industry benefits:

  • Money – financing of cell/ tissue products in development, conducting Ph2/3 of clinical trials;
  • Expertise – in communication with regulators, in conducting/ designing/ analysis of clinical trials;
  • Proof-of-principle cases – cell therapy is commercializable and able to deliver;
  • Industrialization/ mass production/ worldwide distribution of cell therapies, developed in single academic center.

Now, I’d like to overview some recent acquisitions and deals between Pharma and RegenMed/ cell therapy:

Novartis
Strategic alliance with Upenn on commercialization of CAR T-cell therapies in leukemia.
Licensing Facilitating Cell Therapy (FCRx) platform from Regenerex.
Developing of cord blood enhancement therapy via small molecule HSC835.

Pfizer (Neusentis)
Licensing and marketing of Athersys product MultiStem in inflammatory bowl disease.
Collaboration with UCL on “The London Project” for embryonic stem cell-based treatment of AMD

J&J (Janssen Research & Development)
Developing cellular products (umbilical tissue-derived) for eye diseases.
“CureBeta” strategic alliance with Evotec and Harvard Stem Cell Institute on regenerative treatment of diabetes.

Merk Serono
Licensing Opexa’s product Tcelna for multiple sclerosis

Shire (Shire Regenerative Medicine)
Acquired Advanced BioHealing in 2011 for $750M with their product Dermagraft.
Acquired Pervasis Therapeutics in 2012 with product Vascugel.

GSK (Regenerative Medicine Unit)
Partnership with Harvard Stem Cell Institute on drug discovery platforms.
Partnership with Cellular Dynamics International on iPS cell-based screening.
Alliance with Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy for licensing and commercialization of cell-gene therapy product in SCID.
Collaboration with Cell Therapy Catapult UK.

AstraZeneca
Partnership with Cellular Dynamics International on iPS cell-based screening.
Collaboration with UCL on stem cell-based treatment of eye diseases.
Collaboration with Cellartis on stem cell-based drug toxicity screening.

Teva
Licensing and commercialization of Mesoblast product Revascor for neurological and cardiovascular conditions.
Joint venture for commercialization of Gamida Cell product StemEx in leukemia.

Smith and Nephew
Acquired Healthpoint with cell products for skin repair in 2012 for $782M.

Dong-a Pharmaceuticals
Have exclusive marketing license for Medipost stem cell product “CartiStem” in South Korea.

As you can see from this brief overview, we don’t have any Big Pharma company left without interest in stem cell, regenerative medicine and cell therapy. We can see a rapid increase a number of companies, deals and diversification of “cell portfolios”. The period of curiosity is about to end. We’re entering the era of actions and commitment. Will cell therapy and RegenMed benefit and thrive from this Pharma’s commitment? This is a big question. I hope so. But I’m also feeling a risk of exploitation and elimination of new competitive industry. What do you think?

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RegenMed Digest on Stem Cell Assays is sponsored by Regenerative Medicine Jobs. RegenMed is hiring today! Please visit Regenerative Medicine Jobs for recent position openings.

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