Street Talk: Stem Cells: Tough Sell on Wall Street? - Adult stem cells are operating under the radar a bit, but are way ahead of their embryonic offshoots in effective products on the market. - BioPha


Street Talk: Stem Cells: Tough Sell on Wall Street?
Adult stem cells are operating under the radar a bit, but are way ahead of their embryonic offshoots in effective products on the market.

BioPharm International
Volume 19, Issue 12

Prochymal has tested well, and has Wall Street analysts intrigued with its upcoming third-stage clinical trials for Acute Graft. Osiris says that the drug could be out by 2007. On the horizon is a product called Provacel, which Osiris says can rebuild heart tissue (from adult stem cells) for patients who have suffered a heart attack, and can also be used to refortify knee cartilage.

Then take a look at Aastrom Biosciences, a biotech firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, that is also in the bone regrowth business (they call it tissue repair cell technology, or TRC). The company is closing in on a product that would rebuild long bone and jaw bone fractures.

Aastrom bills its TRC-based products as a unique cell mixture containing stromal, stem and progenitor cell populations, produced outside the body from a small amount of bone marrow taken from the patient. Aastrom claims that TRC-based products have been used in over 230 patients, and are currently in clinical trials for bone regeneration (long bone fractures and spine fusion) and vascular regeneration (critical limb ischemia) applications. The company has reported positive interim clinical trial results for TRCs, suggesting both the clinical safety and the ability of TRCs to induce tissue regeneration in long bone fractures and jaw bone reconstruction. Recently, the company's proprietary TRCs received an Orphan Drug Designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of osteonecrosis of the femoral head. In addition, Aastrom is developing plans for a TRC-based therapy for cardiac regeneration.

The company's stock has risen 33% since October 2006—to $1.60 per share—and if you believe in stem cell technology, Aastrom offers an avenue into the market at a cheap price.

Another stem cell company that Wall Street types are keeping a close eye in is Cytori Therapeutics, which is making the eyebrow-raising claim that fat—human fat—can actually save your life The San Diego-based company extracts stem cells from fatty tissues, then uses those cells to restore weak or damaged tissues.

Cytori has developed a product called Celution that extracts stem cells from the patient. The company then processes the cells and reinjects them into the patient. Cytori is testing the product right now in Japan, and hopes for FDA approval in 2008.

The company is making a big bet that regenerative cells, harvested from the patient's fatty tissue, may have the ability to offer replacement cells to treat life-altering or life-threatening disorders. Cytori says that potential clinical applications include disorders of the nerve, muscle, bone, cartilage, and heart among others.

Cytori trades on the Frankfort Stock Exchange. The stock has slipped from about $8 per share at the beginning of 2006, to $4 per share, but FDA recently approved the company's Celution Cell Concentration System for use as a cell saver device. That should help pave the way for long-term growth for the company.

While stem cell research is still in its infancy, the long-term prognosis for the technology is looking more and more bullish.

So far, the money is headed in the direction of adult stem cell companies, where Wall Street looks at stem cell research as the ultimate ground floor opportunity.

Act accordingly.

Celebrity author and business/finance commentator for CNN and Fox News, Brian O'Connell has written for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, 79 Radcliffe Drive, Doylestown, PA 18901, Tel 215.230.3711,

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