Industry Update: Capital market and finances

Written by Dusko ILIC

Latest developments compiled from 01 February — 31 March 2015.

Latest developments in the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine compiled from publicly available information and press releases from non-academic institutions 01 February — 31 March 2015, scheduled to be published in Volume 10 Issue 5 of Regenerative Medicine.


Athersys (OH, USA; has been awarded a grant from Innovate UK (, which will support a Phase 2a clinical study evaluating the administration of MultiStem® cell therapy to acute respiratory distress syndrome patients. The grant is expected to provide up to approximately US$ 3.0 (£2.0) million in support over the course of the study, which will be conducted by Athersys’ affiliate at leading clinical sites in the UK Therapy Catapult (


Coriell Institute for Medical Research (NJ, USA; has won a US$ 14 million grant through an open competition from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a component of the National Institutes of Health. The five-year award supports the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository at Coriell, a dynamic collection of more than 11,300 cell lines and 5,700 DNA samples representing a variety of disease states, chromosomal abnormalities and healthy individuals across several distinct human populations.


Living Cell Technologies (New Zealand; and its 50%-owned joint venture Diatranz Otsuka Limited (New Zealand; has adopted a new development strategy for DIABECELL®. Diatranz will partner with its other 50% shareholder, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Factory (Japan; to support the development and launch of DIABECELL in USA. Diatranz retains a royalty-free right to commercialize DIABECELL outside USA and Japan. Diatranz’s funding requirements have reduced as a result of the new development strategy and the Otsuka loan facility has been amended to provide funding of up to US$ 20 (NZ$ 28) million. The new strategy will mean that Diatranz and Otsuka will focus on developing a DIABECELL product that will meet US FDA regulatory requirements. Approval by the FDA will facilitate approval for the product across the rest of the world.


Innovate UK ( will provide a grant of approximately US$ 2.0 (£1.3) million to a research consortium led by Plasticell (UK; for a project entitled Ex-vivo expansion of cord blood and bone marrow stem cells. The consortium includes the University of Oxford and the Cell Therapy Catapult ( Using CombiCult®, Plasticell has tested millions of combinations of cell culture components to develop cord blood expansion media which amplify stem cells by up to 100-fold. This grant will allow the consortium to develop a clinically compliant process to expand cord blood stem cells ex vivo using Plasticellʼs media.


Semma Therapeutics (MA, USA;, a company developing a cell therapy for Type 1 diabetes, has closed a US$ 44 million Series A consisting of equity financing and strategic funding. The Series A financing is led by MPM Capital (CA, USA;, with Fidelity Biosciences (MA, USA;, ARCH Venture Partners (IL, USA;, and Medtronic (MN, USA; participating. Alongside the equity financing, Semma entered into an undisclosed agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals (Switzerland; Semma is building on the scientific foundation laid by the work of Doug Melton’s group from Harvard [4].


[4] Pagliuca FW, Millman JR, Gürtler M et al. Generation of functional human pancreatic β cells in vitro. Cell. 159(2):428-39 (2014).