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Catalyst - Summer 2009 - Beyond Transplantation: Progenitor Cell Therapy Sees 'Endless Opportunities' Ahead

Catalyst Summer 2009

 

There was a time, not too long ago in medical history when the concept of cell therapy was concentrated solely in the area of cell transplantation. But times, as they say, are a-changin'.

Progenitor Cell Therapy (PCT) became operational in 1999 after it acquired the hematopoietic progenitor cell and tissue processing laboratory from Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in Hackensack, New Jersey. Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., F.A.C.P., chairman, chief executive officer and chief medical officer of PCT, who was the head of HUMC's cancer center at the time, and Robert A. Preti, Ph.D., who at the time of the acquisition was HUMC's scientific and laboratory director, formed PCT to take acquire the hospital's stem cell processing facility. PCT agreed to continue to service the hospital's stem cell transplant program while leveraging the facility to also serve other clients in the emerging cell therapy field. This arrangement continues to exist today. In fact, HUMC remains a shareholder of PCT and continues to hold a seat on the company's Board.

PCT is a contract manufacturer of cell-based therapeutic products – live biological products used as therapies in a variety of healthcare scenarios, including cell-based vaccines for cancer, therapies for neurogenerative or other chronic conditions, and stem cells for regenerative purposes such as repairing bone or cardiac tissue. PCT has moved beyond its original oncological beginnings to almost every kind of therapeutic. Work done at PCT is used to develop treatment for almost every kind of disease from diabetes to heart and muscle damage to degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis. Cell therapy is now far more than stem cell transplantation.

"The company believes that there are endless opportunities for the use of cell-based therapeutics in most if not all human diseases," said Dr. Pecora. "Our mission is to work with clients to bridge the gap between discovery and patient care by facilitating the transfer of cell-based therapies from laboratory technology to clinical practice."

PCT's consulting, product development, and manufacturing services include proof of principle testing, scale-up optimization and product characterization, manufacturing and distribution for all phases of clinical trial, and ultimately commercial modeling, manufacturing and distribution. "The mission," continued Dr. Pecora, "is to shorten time and cost of product development and regulatory approval."

Among other projects, PCT did the bulk of the Phase 3 manufacturing for Dendreon's Provenge product for prostate cancer. The product is currently under consideration for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since the early days, PCT has held four financing rounds – capital infused from individuals, investment funds and two corporate investors, Baxter and BD. The company is currently exploring capital raising alternatives to fuel the company's growth to meet its clients' demands.

PCT still operates out of its original Hackensack facility but it has also leased a larger facility in Mountain View, California, where, in addition to manufacturing, the company is doing product development work for cell therapy companies in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Additionally, the company's newly acquired 30,000 square foot building in Allendale, New Jersey is being built out to expand the company's capacity for product development and manufacturing of cell based products.

More recently PCT recently entered into an agreement with NeoStem (see related article). NeoStem, a leader in providing commercial adult stem banking for clients, will be using PCT's services for stem processing and storage exclusively.

 

EisnerAmper's Catalyst: Summer 2009

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