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GEN News Highlights : Jul 23, 2012

Cell Medica Raises $26.5M for Overseas Expansion

Cell Medica said today it raised a total £17 million ($26.5 million) toward expanding the London-based cell therapy developer into Texas, as well as continuing development of its immune reconstitution cell therapies in Europe.

The financing consists of new investments of £4 million ($6.2 million) from Invesco Perpetual, and £3 million ($4.65 million), subject to milestones, from tech transfer company Imperial Innovations, in addition to a previously-announced £9.7 million ($15.3 million) from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), a $3 billion fund created by the Lone Star State.

Innovations said it will hold a 28% stake in Cell Medica. In addition, The Wellcome Trust will also become a shareholder in the business through elected conversion of a loan security into equity.

Cell Medica will establish commercial operations in Texas and relocate “a substantial part” of its headquarters to the state, where it will carry out clinical development of the cancer immunotherapy technology Cytorex™ EBV to treat cancers associated with Epstein Barr Virus. Cell Medica has licensed Cytorex EBV from the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, The Methodist Hospital, and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

In Europe, Cell Medica will work to commercialize immune reconstitution products including Cytovir™ CMV and Cytovir ADV.  Comprised of T cells, the Cytovir product family is designed to prevent viral infections by reconstituting natural cell-mediated immunity in patients who are profoundly immunosuppressed after bone marrow transplantation. Market launch of Cytovir CMV is targeted for 2013 following completion of the first of two company-sponsored randomized controlled trials ongoing in the UK. The Cytovir ADV clinical development program will be launched with a Phase I/II trial later in 2012.

To facilitate its US and European activity, Cell Medica appointed existing director Thomas Hecht, M.D., as its new chairman. Dr. Hecht—who previously served as a senior executive in Amgen’s European operations and has held positions at several early-stage biotech companies—will succeed current Chairman Nigel Burns, who will continue as a nonexecutive director.