StemCyte Expands Support of World Renowned Spinal Cord Injury Researcher Through Agreement with Rutgers.
StemCyte, Inc. (Arcadia, CA) and Rutgers University (Piscataway, NJ) have entered into a research and licensing agreement for a spinal cord injury therapy being developed by Wise Young, M.D., Ph.D., that uses StemCyte's proprietary human umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cells in conjunction with lithium.
Under the terms of the agreement, StemCyte will provide financial sponsorship for Dr. Young's work at Rutgers' W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience and receive exclusive commercialization rights to the therapy. If the product or other assets resulting from the collaboration are successfully commercialized, Rutgers will receive royalties. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"We have provided UCB products to support Dr. Young's research for several years," said Kenneth J. Giacin, chairman and chief executive officer of StemCyte. "By combining our expertise in UCB stem cells with Dr. Young's experience in spinal cord injury research, we believe that we can develop a treatment that will hold great promise for patients."
Dr. Young's previous research resulted in the administration of high doses of methylprednisolone within eight hours of an injury becoming the first and only currently available therapy for spinal cord injury. He has now conducted preclinical studies at Rutgers' Keck Center to determine the growth factor stimulation of stem cells treated with lithium salt. From these studies, Dr. Young concluded that UCB stem cells are the only type of stem cells that, when treated with lithium salt, have a neurotrophic effect that may be used to effectively treat spinal cord injuries. A patent application for his invention has been previously submitted.
"UCB stem cells have a greater production or expression of growth factors such as cell survival factors, anti-differentiation factors and combinations than other types of stem cells when treated with lithium salt," said Dr. Young. "As a result, we believe that these cells will have significant therapeutic benefit and hope to treat our first patient in clinical trials later this year."
UCB is a readily available source of stem cells. To date, UCB stem cells have been used successfully in approximately 10,000 patients for the treatment of hematologic malignancies, congenital blood disorders and immune deficiency diseases.
Dr. Young is founding director of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience. Founded in 1997, the W. M. Keck Center is dedicated to multidisciplinary collaborative research and to accelerating the translation of scientific discoveries into effective human therapies. The focus of the
Center's work is spinal cord and brain injury with a high interest in stem cell research. Research findings also are applicable to persons with stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotropic lateral sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and other problems of the central nervous system.
Established in 1766, Rutgers University is America's eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation's premier public research universities. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers offers more than 280 bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degree programs. The university is home to 27 degree-granting schools and colleges, and more than 150 specialized centers and institutes.
StemCyte is a global leader in stem cell therapeutics with a marketed umbilical cord blood stem cell transplantation product. The company's proprietary plasma-depleted cord blood stem cell products have been used to cure hundreds of patients with life-threatening diseases. With its partners, StemCyte is actively involved in the development of new umbilical cord blood-based cell therapies and has the largest clinical study for using unrelated cord blood transplantation for thalassemia, one of the most common genetic diseases in the world. The company operates one of two, and the only commercial cord blood bank in the world, dually accredited by AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) and Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy. StemCyte is the only private company contracted by the Federal Government to establish a National Cord Blood Inventory.