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Safety of blood stem cell transplantation the focus of collaboration


Montreal, QC – Biopharmaceutical company Celmed BioSciences and medical technology and healthcare company Gambro BCT have formed a formal collaborative agreement aimed at developing a semi-automated, closed system to prevent graft versus-host disease (GvHD). Financial terms were not disclosed.

Gambro BCT specializes in blood bank technologies, including automated blood collection systems, whole blood processing, pathogen reduction technologies, and value added blood and cell based therapeutic products.

Celmed is developer of Theralux, a combination therapy administered ex vivo comprising a photosensitive drug and illuminator device that is designed to eliminate specific unwanted cells, particularly those that cause GvHD. The drug, TH9402, is preferentially retained in activated T cells. The process begins with an in vitro GvHD reaction where the donor cells are activated by the recipient cells. The activated cells retain TH9402 preferentially. When these GvHD-causing cells are then exposed to light from the Theralux device, the drug initiates a photodynamic effect leading to the death of the unwanted cells. The purged blood sample is then reinfused into the cancer patient who meanwhile has undergone high-dose chemotherapy.

The company says the device thus has the potential to prevent GvHD without compromising immune function in cancer patients even with donors that are not entirely matched to their recipients.

The collaboration involves a two-year development and milestone agreement during which Celmed will have access to Gambro BCT’s regulatory, clinical, marketing and distribution expertise. The companies are also considering other agreements that may follow in mutually beneficial areas. The objective of this initial strategic collaboration is to combine the companies’ systems to develop a semi-automated, closed system to prevent GvHD. Such a system would be streamlined and user-friendly to increase convenience to the users and closed to reduce the possibility of contamination with infectious agents.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Gambro BCT, the dominant player worldwide in blood component separation technology, in order to help optimize our Theralux system for use in the clinic,” says Andr de Villers, Celmed’s president and CEO. “The medical implications would obviously be enormous for developing a user-friendly system to prevent GvHD in order to make blood stem cell transplantation safer."