19 Apr 2016
Promethera Biosciences SA, a Belgian biotechnology company developing stem cell therapies for the treatment of inborn liver metabolic diseases (ILMD) and acquired liver diseases with high unmet medical needs, announced that it has acquired the key assets of Cytonet GmbH & Co KG, the international cellular therapy company involving primary human hepatocytes. This transaction will result in Promethera becoming the world’s leading and most advanced cell therapy and regenerative medicine company targeting liver diseases. Promethera acquired the Cytonet assets in exchange for Promethera shares. The Hopp family, the lead shareholder of Cytonet, will have up to 13 per cent of the share capital after finalisation of the transaction.
This business combination will result in a more diversified and broader Promethera therapeutic pipeline to address a wide range of liver diseases including large indications. These conditions include fibrosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), acute on chronic liver failure (AoCLF) and haemophilia. Promethera will evaluate additional options to target acute liver failure (ALF) and liver graft dysfunction in the future. Promethera will continue to target orphan indications, including urea cycle disorders (UCD), ILMD and A1AT Deficiency (a1-antitrypsin).
By combining the three different cell products resulting from the strategic expansion, human hepatocytes (Heparesc) and human liver derived stem cells (HepaStem and H2Stem) Promethera will mitigate the overall development risk profile of its pipeline whilst strengthening its execution capacities. Adding the advanced pre-commercial stage product candidate Heparesc to the Promethera product portfolio will enable early commercialisation. This is targeted for 2017 through a Canadian market approval process and recognition by other countries. There is also the potential to combine the different cellular therapy approaches to develop future liver-targeting robust treatments using cell-encapsulation technologies (a Cytonet asset), including the use of biological scaffolds. The acquisition of the Cytonet assets will add to Promethera’s Belgian headquarters (HQ) in Wallonia, a US facility in Durham, NC with a team of 18 people for organ and tissue processing, product manufacturing, and world-class liver sourcing with the largest existing Organ Procurement Organisations (OPO) network in the US. In addition, a team of seven people from Germany will be added to Promethera Belgian HQ to support a filing of a new drug submission (NDS) for Heparesc with Health Canada. Promethera’s team as a whole and its top management is now expanded with highly experienced talents and executives with an average of over 15 years of experience in liver cell therapy, cell therapy product manufacturing and commercialisation.
“This acquisition by Promethera is the result of a new vision and an ambitious strategy I introduced to the company from early 2015. This strategy was designed to make it the global leader in liver regenerative medicine with a clear goal of pipeline expansion and offering superior therapeutic options in the liver space based on solid science and innovation. This strategic transaction strengthens our position as the leading and most advanced company in this area with headquarters in Wallonia, Belgium and a solid US presence. In addition, Promethera’s acquisition of Cytonet gives us access to a pre-commercialisation stage product Heparesc that has a mechanism of action that complements well with our existing portfolio,” said Dr. John Tchelingerian, chairman and CEO of Promethera. “We now also have access to a great commercially-driven management team and an experienced pool of scientific talents from Cytonet, which we will be incorporating into the Promethera family. We will announce this new management structure in due course.”
“Cytonet has developed Heparesc, a cell therapy to treat neonatal onset UCD patients and we are delighted that this development will be taken forward by Promethera,” said Dr. Torsten Hombeck, managing director of Cytonet GmbH & Co KG. “With the filing for market approval in Canada for Heparesc, Promethera now has the capability to quickly bring an additional important therapy to patients who otherwise have little to no treatment alternatives.” “The acquisition by Promethera of the Cytonet assets is the key step to build the success of a comprehensive liver cell therapy that is driven by an innovative R&D engine and mindset at Promethera,” said Prof. Etienne Sokal, founder and chief innovation and scientific officer of Promethera.
“By combining the many years of experience of our new colleagues, we will address both inborn errors of metabolism in children and acquired liver diseases in adults and will cover a wide range of unmet medical needs for the entire community of liver patients.” Promethera’s broad portfolio of product candidates, intellectual property and cell therapy technologies provides a sustainable and unique liver sourcing and processing platform to support long-term partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotech companies.