|Cellular Biomed has a four-year U.S. history|
The publicly traded enterprise is Cellular Biomedicine Group, Inc., which has an office in Cupertino, Ca., as well as China. It was awarded $2.3 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM, as the state stem cell agency is formally known.
The company said in a press release that the therapy, known as AlloJoin, is already in a phase one clinical trial in China where it is showing "promising interim 3-month safety data." The company described the therapy as an “off-the-shelf, allogeneic, human adipose-derived, mesenchymal stem cell" treatment.
|Qing Liu-Michael, USC photo|
|Thomas Vangsness, USC photo|
The company said the CIRM grant is the first step in bringing its arthritis treatment to the United States. It is also contributing $572,993 to the work being funded by the state agency.
In an interview last week with Javier Hasse of Benzinga, an online financial information site, Tony Liu, chief executive officer of Cellular, said his company is also working on immune cell therapies involving cancer. He said his company's focus is on China because of the size of the market.
"In China, 57 million people have a knee issue; in the U.S., 27 million [people] have a knee issue. Stem cells can help knees regenerate by doing two things. First, by helping with the pain, providing symptom relief and functional improvements. Secondly, they regenerate the cartilage, which originally caused the knee problem. Nowadays, patients can only opt between pain pills or a knee replacement.
Today, if you do a knee replacement, you are looking at tens of thousands [of dollars]. So, any way you look at it, [it’s a] multi-billion [market] for knee treatments."Liu continued,
“Our management team was educated in the U.S., and has experience managing large businesses.... “Our chief scientific officer is a former MedImmune/AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE: AZN) director. Some of our oncology scientists are from there as well. We also have scientists from the National Cancer Institute. We also have a person who is leading our manufacturing capabilities who worked for Harvard for 30 years and a top German company, leading research for seven years total.”
“So, we have this kind of people with skills come to China. Our company has 130 people with PhDs, and more than 30 with post-doctorate studies, so there is a lot of brain power, I believe, and we have a common vision that is to create the best, first in class, biotech business in China.”
As for the company's finances, Liu said,
"CBMG’s stock is really thinly traded. Much of the stock is owned by those who have been with the company for a long time; so, they don’t sell. Having said this, there are many reasons that drive stocks: the U.S. election, the pricing discussion… Many investors don’t discriminate, and just punish biotech as a whole. However, CBMG is not really subject to most of these pricing pressures. In fact, because we have a different cost structure, I expect CBMG to do extremely well."