SCS welcomes StemCells deal in light of US rule change

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Stem cell Us

Alastair Riddell, CEO of UK firm Stem Cell Sciences (SCS), says the US governments’ reversal of the ban on federally funded stem cell research “opens up a market that was inhibited, restrained and impeded under the Bush administration.”

In an order issued last week, President Barack Obama gave a green light to government investment in stem cell technology, overturning an eight year ban that had limited US government funded research to just 21 pre-existing cell lines.

Speaking with in-PharmaTechnologist about SCS’ deal to sell certain assets and technologies to US firm StemCells for just under $5m (€3.9m), Dr Riddell took time to praise the recent US ruling.

He explained that: “Under the Bush administration, organisations like the NIH [National Institues of Health] had been unable to fund the research…severely limiting the development of the US stem cell sector.”

Riddell predicted the US reversal would drive a rapid expansion of the industry, adding that in terms of therapeutic applications “if stem cell treatments fulfil their promise in clinical trials it could lead to revolutionary treatments for conditions ranging from stoke to paraplegia and cardio vascular disease.”

The StemCells deal will transfer ownership of SCS’ intellectual property (IP) portfolio of drug development and clinical trials technology as well as laboratories in Cambridge in the UK and Melbourne, Australia to the US firm.

StemCells will also benefit from SCS licensing agreements with major industrial players like Merck & Co and Millipore and several others, all of which have optioned the UK firm’s technology.

Commenting on the acquisition Ridell said that: “StemCells wishes to invest in SCS’ Cambridge site, is talking about retaining all the UK firms’ staff and is considering its position in Australia​.”

StemCells’ CEO, Martin McGlynn, said that the logic of the deal is compelling. He said that the move would combine SCS’ expertise in producing stem and progenitor cells for therapeutic applications with his firms’ track record in culture-based drug development assays.

McGlynn added that the prospective acquisition will unite “three distinct stem cell platforms, adult, embryonic and iPS (pluripotent) cells…and will position StemCells to diversify and pursue near-term commercialization opportunities​.”

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