Thursday, 24 February 2011

Human cardiomyocytes for efficacy and toxicology testing

Univercell-Biosolutions SAS, a provider of human cardiac cells for drug discovery, and iPS Academia Japan Inc. (Kyoto, Japan), today announced a worldwide non-exclusive licensing agreement for iPS Academia Japan’s iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cell) patent portfolio. The portfolio arises out of the work of Professor Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at the University of Kyoto, Japan. Coupled with Univercell-Biosolutions’ own technology, the agreement will enable Univercell-Biosolutions to provide cardiac cells to the pharmaceutical industry while avoiding the regulatory complexity associated with the use of embryonic stem cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, iPS Academia Japan will receive royalties from Univercell-Biosolutions (UB). Other terms are not disclosed. Both iPS Academia Japan and UB expect this accord to be followed by further business collaborations.

iPSC technology has the capacity to transform ordinary human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, with the same characteristics and potential as embryonic stem cells. It is based on work by Prof. Shinya Yamanaka and his collaborators over the last few years. Coupled with UB technology, it will provide a powerful resource for producing on a large scale human cardiomyocytes derived from iPSCs. The provision of a homogeneous population of cardiac cells that are close to human cardiomyocytes constitutes an invaluable tool for early and efficient prediction of cardiotoxicity in new drug candidates.

UB is one of the few companies worldwide to have obtained the iPS Academia Japan’s iPSC patent license and the deal further establishes the company as a new leader in iPSC and human cardiomyocytes technologies. UB’s unique technology specifically selects a population composed of more than 99 per cent pre-cardiomyocytes. This overcomes a major industrial bottleneck to obtain a sufficiently enriched population of cardiomyocytes.

“This license strengthens dramatically our competitive position in the market and provides pharmaceutical and biotech companies developing drug discovery and safety tools with a cutting edge cardiac cell,” said Michel Puceat, Univercell-Biosolutions’ founder and chairman of its Scientific Advisory Board.

UB’s goal is to provide pharmaceutical and biotechnologies industries with innovative solutions to reduce drastically the alarming drug failure rate during clinical trials. The company plans to release several additional versions from its original version of cardiomyocytes within 2011 to meet industry requirements and enlarge its strategic products portfolio.

“We are pleased to grant the non-exclusive license and build a good relationship with Univercell-Biosolutions,” said Osamu Yoshida, M.D., Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of iPS Academia Japan. “We expect that the association of iPSC’ technology with Univercell-Biosolutions’ approach will accelerate the development of various drugs for the benefit of patients worldwide.”

"The UB solution is already validated and operational using iPS Academia technology and the two technologies together open new avenues to bring to the market large scale production of human cardiomyocytes in sufficient volume and quality to satisfy the needs of the pharmaceutical industry,” said Guillaume Costecalde, Univercell-Biosolutions’ chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We see this as an exceptional scientific and market opportunity and an important plank in our joint strategy to bring iPSC technology to industry worldwide.”

iPS Academia Japan Inc

Univercell-Biosolutions SAS