Without a doubt, the cell therapy industry is coming of age. In addition to growing numbers of cell therapy clinical trials, there are 17 cell therapy products that have been approved worldwide and 150+ cell therapy companies competing in the global marketplace. These metrics are extremely important, because they indicate that the market for cell therapy products is expanding.
However, one of the most telling trends within the industry is a growing interest among “big pharma” in cell therapy companies. At its core, this is a strategic way for pharmaceutical companies to diversity their product development pipeline.
Pharmaceutical Investment Flowing into Cell Therapy Companies
Recently, the pharmaceutical industry has been accelerating investment into cell therapy companies. Examples of this include:
- Amgen Ventures participated in Fortuna Fix’s USD $25 million Series B financing in November 2017
- Astellas Pharma funded a development program with Universal Cells to utilize its Universal Donor Cell Technology in October 2017
- Hitachi Chemical bought PCT cell therapy (a cell therapy CDMO) in May 2017
- FUJIFILM purchased a 10% equity stake in Cynata Therapeutics in January 2017
- Bayer AG spun off BlueRock Therapeutics with funding of $225 million in December 2016
- Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals acquired Stratatech Corporation in August 2016
- Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and TiGenix in July 5, 2016
- JCR Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. and Mesoblast in December 3, 2015
- AMAG Pharmaceuticals bought Cord Blood Registry (cord blood bank) for $700 million in June of 2015
- Celgene took a $45 million minority stake in Mesoblast in April 2015
Novartis has an equity stake in Gamida Cell Ltd (invested $35 million in 2014, $5 million more in 2015, and has been in talks about buying Gamida Cell for $600 million)
- FUJIFILM bought Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), the world’s leading iPSC company, for $307 million in April 2015
- Johnson & Johnson bet $12.5 million on Capricor Therapeutics cell therapy program for cardiovascular applications (CAP-1002) through its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, in January 2014
- PerkinElmer bought ViaCord (an umbilical cord blood bank) for $300 million in October 2007
- Teva Pharmaceuticals entered a joint venture (JV) with Gamida Cell Ltd (2005)
Much of this partnering activity has been supported by accelerated regulatory pathways that have been passed in major healthcare markets worldwide, including the U.S., Japan, and South Korea. In Japan, the government passed the “Act on the Safety on Regenerative Medicine” and making revisions to the “Pharmaceutical and Medical device Act” in late 2014, giving a major boost to cell therapy development within Asia. Additionally, the EU has a program for product acceleration – the Adaptive Pathways.
Are there other examples of pharmaceutical investment into cell therapy companies that you would like to see included? Add them in the comments below.