I have been playing with the idea of a post related to the area of therapeutic cell bioprocessing, and today one of the leaders in the field became an acquisition target. Progenitor Cell Therapy (PCT) provides process development and manufacturing support for institutions and cell therapy companies, and has over 30,000 cell procedures under it’s belt and a combined 125 years of cell therapy management experience. Stem Cells Inc., the proposed purchaser, outsources it’s cell manufacturing to PCT for their cell product that is currently being tested in a Phase I Batten disease trial. Stem Cells must like what they see.
Stem Cells Inc. is several years (5-8) away from generating any revenue from their neural stem cell therapy. They just finished the 1 year safety follow-up to their first patient in a 6 patient clinical trial – pretty far from BLA and marketing. What PCT would give them, if the purchase goes through, is a revenue generator (yes, PCT actually generates revenue) to potentially bring in cash while Stem Cells continues through clinical trials. This could be the best way for Stem Cells to weather the tight capital markets, and gives them a way to remain in business if follow-on funding dries up. It also brings a cell manufacturing expertise to Stem Cells that they, and most other cell therapy companies, do not have. Most cell therapy companies don’t have the money to invest in manufacturing equipment or expertise, so they outsource cell production to one of several companies including Cognate Bioservices, PCT, Apptec, or Lonza.
Stem Cells Inc. must see cell production as a growing market that they can capitalize on with a strategic acquisition. I must say that I am more surprised to see Stem Cells Inc. as the purchaser and not one of the bigger players like Lonza or Apptec. I guess we have to see if this acquisition actually goes through, and what the repercussions will be through out the field.