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Apr 30, 2010

BioTime to Take Over ES Cell International for hESC Lines

BioTime to Take Over ES Cell International for hESC Lines

ESI says that it owns 6 of the 21 hESC lines currently listed on NIH’s Stem Cell Registry. (©juggle33 - Fotolia.com)

  • BioTime will acquire Singapore-based ES Cell International (ESI) to pad its product offerings related to stem cells and regenerative medicine. ESI’s assets cover 20 patent families, including 50 issued patents in the field of stem cell biology and a significant equity position in the Israel-based stem cell company CellCure Neurosciences.

    Established in 2000, ESI was reportedly one of the first distributors of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines to the research community. ESI says that it owns 6 of the 21 hESC lines currently listed on NIH’s Stem Cell Registry. Recently, ESI produced an additional six clinical-grade hESC lines and currently offers them for use in therapeutic product development.

    ESI’s subsidiary, Cell Cure Neurosciences, is developing cell therapies for retinal and neural degenerative diseases. Its therapeutic cells include retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells and neural progenitor cells, both derived from hESCs. The company's preclinical-stage OpRegen™ product is intended for use in RPE transplantations in patients with age-related macular degeneration.

    BioTime plans to combine the newly acquired assets with its ACTCellerate™ and ReCyte™ technologies to hasten the development of human therapeutic products. The ACTCellerate technology reportedly permits the generation of scalable and highly purified cells of the human body. ReCyte is being developed as a means of implementing induced pluripotent stem cell technology on an industrial scale.

    At closing, which is expected next week, BioTime will issue approximately 1.38 million of its common shares and 300,000 warrants to purchase additional common shares. The BioTime warrants will have an exercise price of $10 per common share and a term of four years. In exchange, besides the purchase of ESI's outstanding ordinary and preferred shares, BioTime will acquire from one of the ESI investors secured promissory notes in the amount of approximately $35 million of principal and accrued interest. The notes will become an intercompany obligation of ESI payable to BioTime.

    BioTime, headquartered in Alameda, CA, is focused on regenerative medicine and blood plasma volume expanders. Its subsidiary Embryome Sciences develops and markets research products in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine Another subsidiary called OncoCyte focuses on the therapeutic applications of stem cell technology in cancer.

    Through its BioTime Asia subsidiary, the company plans on developing therapeutic products in China for the treatment of ophthalmologic, skin, musculo-skeletal system, and hematologic diseases including the targeting of genetically modified stem cells to tumors as a novel means of treating currently incurable forms of cancer.


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