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UK's Stem Cell Sciences acquired by US company

Published on 05/03/09 at 12:10pm

US company StemCells Inc is to expand its capabilities in the field with the purchase of UK based Stem Cell Sciences for $4.8 million.

Established in 1994, Stem Cell Sciences is based in Cambridge in the UK and specialises in developing stem cells to be used in drug discovery and regenerative medicine research.

The company has a second research base in Monash near Melbourne, Australia, and this will also be included in the sale to the US group.

California-based StemCells Inc is developing stem cell products for therapeutic use in humans. It says its combination with Stem Cell Sciences will provide a major boost to its commercial base.

"The industrial logic of this acquisition is compelling," said Martin McGlynn, president and chief executive of StemCells. "StemCells has established itself as a world leader in tissue-derived stem and progenitor cells for therapeutic uses, while Stem Cell Sciences has focused on non-therapeutic applications for embryonic and tissue derived stem cells, such as cell-based assays for drug discovery and screening."

McGlynn said the combination of three distinct stem cell platforms, adult, embryonic and iPS cells, for both therapeutic and drug discovery applications would allow the company to diversify and pursue near-term opportunities while continuing to develop its therapeutic products.

"StemCells is the logical home for our businesses," said Alastair Riddell, chief executive of Stem Cell Sciences. "Our respective technologies and capabilities are highly complementary, and the Stem Cell Sciences Board is confident StemCells has the knowledge and resources to fully leverage these assets and realize their potential value."

The UK company has had a run of good news in recent months, with Pfizer and another undisclosed large pharma company signing deals with Stem Cell Sciences to use its technology in their drug development.

StemCells' lead therapeutic product is HuCNS-SC (purified human neural stem cells) to treat Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD), a fatal brain disorder that mainly affects young children.

The product received FDA approval in December to begin a clinical trial of evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of HuCNS-SC cells as a treatment for PMD, for which there are no existing treatments.

The HuCNS-SC cells are already in another trial to treat neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCL), or Batten disease, and preliminary results are expected later this year.

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