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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024

S.D. Biotech, Kansas Firm Part Ways

MultiCell Technologies, Inc. is changing its approach to selling human liver cells, which biotechs use in testing toxicity of potential medications.

For starters, the company has terminated its exclusive license agreement with a Lenexa, Kan.-based company, XenoTech, LLC, because XenoTech did not meet minimum royalty obligations, according to MultiCell President Stephen Chang.

MultiCell Chief Financial Officer Gerard Wills declined to disclose how far under expectations the royalties were for sales of the cells, but Chang blames the gap on XenoTech’s approach.

“They insisted on selling licenses to grow the cells,” Chang said. “It’s like buying a car: If you want a car, you don’t buy all the parts and put it together. You buy the car.”

The executives said MultiCell will sell its own ready-to-use cells, not seek a contract with another company.

“We see this as an opportunity to take control of our marketing ourselves,” Wills said. “We think it’s a pretty darn exciting product.”

MultiCell Immunotherapeutics, Inc., a subsidiary of the Rhode Island-based MultiCell Technologies, is based in San Diego. Together, the two entities work to commercialize new therapies to treat degenerative neurological diseases, metabolic and endocrinological disorders and infectious diseases. Besides the human liver cells, the company has two other cell lines on the market.

Chang cited Wills’ recent arrival and the marketing changes as an indication of MultiCell’s potential.

He said Wills, who joined MultiCell in January after several months as CFO at San Diego’s Immusol, Inc., was integral in the initial public offerings at Nanogen, Inc., Trega Biosciences, Inc., and Molecular Biosystems. Trega was acquired by Lion Bioscience, of Heidelberg, Germany, and Molecular was acquired by Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp.

MultiCell reported revenue of $150,000 for the nine months ending Aug. 31, and a net loss of $2.8 million for the same period. It has not yet reported 2005 year-end earnings, but will do so likely in March, Chang said.

MultiCell Technologies’ shares closed at 50 cents Feb. 6. It trades as MCET.OB on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board.

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FDA Approval:

San Diego-based Protein Polymer Technologies, Inc. recently received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for kits it manufactures for use by radiologists: PVA Plus, MicroStat and MaxiStat.

The company says the kits can help the firm enter a $400 million-plus market in the United States , $800 million worldwide.

Radiologists use the kits for a process called embolization, a minimally invasive procedure used to treat neurovascular conditions, uterine fibroids and inoperable liver cancer, among others. According to Protein Polymer, the kits help doctors prepare embolization injections quicker and cleaner.

The approval comes six weeks after Protein Polymer Technologies signed a licensing agreement with El Dorado Hills-based Surgica Corp. for its patented manufacturing process, used to make the three newly approved kits. The agreement gave Protein Polymer exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the kits. Under the agreement, Protein Polymer also assumes up to $650,000 of Surgica liabilities. The company is to pay Surgica $400,000 cash and 25 percent of net profits on revenues generated by the kits.

The FDA must grant the pre-market clearance, known as 510(k), for medical devices before a company can sell them. The federal agency requires the submitting company to demonstrate safety and effectiveness, and pay a fee of around $3,800 for the consideration.

Protein Polymer Technologies trades as PPTI.OB on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board. Its stock closed at 25 cents Feb. 6, the day of the announcement.

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On A Faster Track:

San Diego-based Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a company focused on developing drugs to treat infectious diseases, announced recently that the Food and Drug Administration has given a thumbs up to the second half of Optimer’s phase two clinical trials for its leading drug candidate, an antibiotic to treat diarrhea. The trials will begin in April, the company announced last week.

The drug received fast-track designation from the FDA in 2003. A fast-track designation is meant to expedite the review of new drugs intended to treat serious or life threatening conditions and that demonstrate potential to address unmet medical needs.

Optimer’s compound, called OPT-80 for now, is being tested as a treatment for a type of diarrhea that is caused by bacterium. According to the company, the illness is a major cause of long-term care in hospitals worldwide.

Optimer has said it is hoping for a 2007 launch of the drug.

Optimer also researches drugs to treat cancer and osteoarthritis.

The privately owned company, founded in 1998, has offices in San Diego and Taiwan with a combined employee count of more than 30.

Contact Katie Weeks with biotechnology news at kweeks@sdbj.com, or call her at (858) 277-6359.


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