Start-Up Previews (04/2009)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "New Stem Cell Therapies," features profiles of Amorcyte, California Stem Cell, Cardio3 BioSciences, CellDesign and Fate Therapeutics. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Alaxo, CorNova, PCI Biotech.
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Amorcyte is intent on developing patients' own enriched bone-marrow stem cells as a treatment for cardiovascular disease. The idea is to infuse the stem cells into the heart a week or so after a severe heart attack, where they will linger and help restore damaged tissue. Results of a Phase I clinical trial recently reported at the scientific session of the American College of Cardiology conference showed the treatment was safe, and yielded insight into the minimum dosage necessary to generate a beneficial effect.
Earlier this decade, a German citizen suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) came up with the idea of mechanically splinting the airways in the throat to ensure free flow of air into the lungs, rather than relying on traditional pressure-based splinting of the airways, as with continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). That concept became the AlaxoStent from Alaxo GMBH, a self-expandable, shape-memory metal braid that the patient can insert into his nose and throat at night and remove in the morning.
California Stem Cell Inc.'s founder, Hans S. Keirstead, PhD, is well known in stem cell circles as the developer of processes that can produce extremely pure cell lines from human embryonic stem cells. As such, the start-up is uniquely situated. Not only does it produce over 95% pure populations of several cell types for use in research, but the firm also has proprietary reagents it sells to pharma and biotech firms. And it is building its own therapeutic pipeline: CSC is poised to file an IND for an hESC-derived therapy to treat type 1 infantile spinal muscular atrophy, the largest genetic killer of children under the age of two.