StemCells grants license to ReNeuron, receives stake in UK stem cell co

Published: July 10, 2005  |  Source: pharmabiz.com
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California– StemCells, Inc. has entered into an agreement with ReNeuron, a privately- owned UK biotech corporation. The agreement enables ReNeuron to exploit its “c-mycER” conditionally immortalized adult human neural stem cell technology for therapy and other purposes.

In return for the license, StemCells received an equity interest in ReNeuron and a cross-license to the exclusive use of ReNeuron’s technology for certain diseases and conditions, including lysosomal storage diseases, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy and Multiple Sclerosis. ReNeuron will supply cells for StemCells use under the cross-license.

The agreement also provides for royalties and milestone payments by each party on the achievement of various goals under the license and cross-license.

Martin McGlynn, president and CEO of StemCells says, “We view this agreement as an initial step towards possible future collaborations between the two companies, in the neural stem cell field. ReNeuron’s exclusive focus on conditionally immortalized adult human stem cell technology complements our approach of using highly purified, normal adult neural stem cells that have not been genetically modified (HuCNS-SC). The agreement also makes it possible for StemCells to pursue neural stem cell therapies for a number of neurodegenerative diseases through another channel, by using ReNeuron’s conditionally immortalized cells.”

“ReNeuron will be developing treatments for diseases of the Central Nervous System with its conditionally immortalized cells,” McGlynn said adding, “Under our cross-license, we too can use their technology in diseases of special interest to StemCells. We believe the ultimate beneficiaries will be those afflicted with some terrible neurodegenerative diseases for which there are now no adequate treatments.”

StemCells’ first IND (Investigational New Drug application) is for use of HuCNS-SC in treatment of infantile and late-infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), the most severe forms of a group of disorders commonly referred to as Batten disease; it is currently on hold. The Company has previously announced that it plans to file an IND amendment in Q3 this year, intended to address the clinical hold issues.

ReNeuron’s proprietary c-mycER technology permits a single “founder” stem cell to divide indefinitely, creating large cell banks. This is done by activating the c-myc growth promoting gene when a synthetic chemical is added to the cell media. Removal of the chemical turns off the gene so that the cells stop dividing.