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GEN News Highlights : Nov 1, 2012

iPSC Deal Focuses on Reagents and Cell Lines

StemCells and R Biomedical agreed to work together on developing a range of cell lines and reagents for human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research targeted at regenerative medicine. The firms have just launched their first joint product, an "ultra-primary" human fibroblast cell line for generating iPSCs, under the SC brand name.

Scottish regenerative medicines firm R Biomedical was spun out of the University of Edinburgh in 2006 to develop protocols, reagents, and reprogramming technologies to enable the development of somatic cell therapeutics. “The scientists at R Biomedical are experts in the development of reagents for the iPS cell field, and the company is one of the few organizations to have secured ethical approval to collect and process human somatic cells expressly for generating iPS cell lines,” comments Stewart Craig, Ph.D., StemCells’ svp for development and operations.

“The area of regenerative medicine is a burgeoning field both for research and as a specialized platform for pharmaceutical companies performing drug screening campaigns,” adds Joe Mee, R Biomedical’s managing director. “R Biomedical is well-positioned to provide iPS cell reagents, accompanying technology, and culture reagents to both academic and industrial researchers in partnership with StemCells under its SC Proven brand."

Newark-based StemCells is focused on leveraging its expertise in stem cell biology to develop therapeutics and enabling tools and technologies for stem cell-based research and drug discovery. The firm’s therapeutic pipeline is headed by its HuCNS-SC neural stem cells program, which is in development for potential applications in brain, spinal cord, and eye disorders, and is undergoing clinical trials in patients with spinal cord injury and with the childhood fatal myelination disorder Pelizaeus-Marzbacher disease.

Last month StemCells confirmed that the first patient in a Phase I/II clinical trial evaluating stem cells against dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) had been enrolled and received an HuCNS-SC transplant. Preclinical development with HuCNS-SC stem cells is ongoing in retinal disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.

StemCells also offers a portfolio of stem cell tools, kits, and reagents for the detection, derivation, expansion, and differentiation of human and animal cell types, together with drug discovery and development tools, contract process development and production services, and cGMP manufacturing.

In August the firm launched four new SC Proven human neural stem cell (NSC) kits for use in neuroscience research. The kits contain multipotent human NSCs derived from hindbrain (HNS-HIN-001), cortex (HNS-COR-001), spinal cord (HNS-SPI-001), and mid-forebrain (HNS-MIF-001).