Monday, May 19, 2014

Capricor and California Stem Cell Agency Say All is Well With $27 Million Investment

One recent headline in Forbes magazine read
“Stem Cell Therapy To Fix The Heart: A House Of Cards About To Fall?”

Over at the Boston Globe, another story this month said,
 “A provocative new study calls into question the rationale for using stem cells to repair the heart — a much-hyped experimental therapy that grew out of insights from a groundbreaking Boston researcher’s laboratory.”

Eduardo Marban
Cedars-Sinai photo
But it appears that heart stem cell regeneration is like cheese, you might say. There are many different varieties. And in the case of a $27 million investment in heart cell regeneration by the California stem cell agency, all the players say things are just fine with their project.

The state's research effort involves a publicly traded company called Capricor Therapeutics. The Beverly Hills firm and one of its founders. Eduardo Marban, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, received the $27 million from the state stem cell agency.

In the wake of the news reports involving heart stem cell regeneration, the California Stem Cell Report queried both Marban and the stem cell agency. Marban replied within 37 minutes last week. Here is the text of what he had to say in his email.
“All of the critiques have been leveled at competing technologies. Indeed, I have been among the more vocal critics (for example see http://www.tctmd.com/show.aspx?id=124193).

“Although some alarmist headlines have inappropriately questioned all cardiac stem cell work, the issues have to do with only one specific subtype of cardiac stem cell, which is marked by the expression of an antigen called c-kit. This is NOT the cell type being developed by Capricor; in fact, my laboratory has found that c-kit-positive cells play no role in Capricor’s cell product. That product, known as CAP-1002, contains a small fraction (less than 5 percent) of c-kit-positive cells which can be completely removed with no loss in potency. CAP-1002 is believed to work by indirect 'paracrine' mechanisms that differ fundamentally from those postulated for the c-kit-positive cells.
“By way of background, the critiques of c-kit-positive heart cells have come in two forms: first, in concerns expressed by the editors of the Lancet regarding data integrity in the SCIPIO trial; this was conducted by Piero Anversa and colleagues using c-kit-positive cells. Second, a recent Nature paper (attached in case you do not have a copy), of which I am an author, questions the claim that c-kit-positive cells are true cardiac progenitors.

“These concerns in no way undermine Capricor’s technology. In fact, CAP-1002 remains the only heart-derived cell product in commercial development. I am proceeding full speed ahead with mechanistic and translational work on CAP-1002, and Capricor continues to feel bullish about the product, which is now in phase 2 trials (the furthest along of any CIRM-funded project).”

Kevin McCormack, a spokesman for the stem cell agency, also said that Capricor is using a different method and a different stem cell than the one being called into question.

You can hear the May 15 Capricor conference call on its first quarter results here. Its stock price jumped from $6.15 on May 14 to as high as $7.65 during the day May 15. Its 52-week low was $1.15 and its 52-week high $17.15.

(Editor's note: If you would like a copy of the Nature paper that Marban referenced, please send an email to djensen@californiastemcellreport.com.)
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1 comment:

  1. What about Capricor's recent news surrounding the identification of exosomes as the carriers of the paracrine growth and trophic factors that are proposed to be the mechanism of action for the CAP-1002 that CIRM invested in? Seems like the cells will be dropping off the map if the exosomes' efforts pan out.

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