Sanofi sells therapy cells: Aastrom buys products and plants

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

Aastrom adds cell therapies for knee damage to portfolio
Aastrom adds cell therapies for knee damage to portfolio
Aastrom Biosciences will pay Sanofi $6.5m (EUR4.7m) for its cell therapy business in a deal that gives the cash strapped regenerative medicines developer three commercial products.

The Michigan, US-based firm announced the deal this week, explaining that it will gain commercial rights to the cartilage therapies Carticel and MACI and a skin replacement product for burns victims named Epicel. 

According to Sanofi filings, the products generated combined revenue of $44m last year. 

Through the deal – which is expected to close in the next three weeks - Aastrom will also acquire the former Genzyme manufacturing centres in the US and Denmark at which the three cell-therapy products are made.

Sanofi spokeswoman Sarah Conners told BioPharma-Reporter.com the facility Aastrom is buying in Cambridge, Massachusetts “is a fully-integrated manufacturing site for the development and commercialization of cell-based therapies.

The production of three cellular therapies for clinical and commercial distribution worldwide occurs at the facility” ​she continued, adding that “The site provides a wide range of specialties such as engineering, process and technology development, quality control, quality assurance and manufacturing​.”

Connors added that: “The manufacturing site in Copenhagen produces the cell therapy product MACI​.”

Aastrom CEO Nick Colangelo described the acquisition as a “transformative transaction​,” citing the marketed products as a key driver.

He also said the Sanofi R&D and manufacturing sites “provides us with a platform to generate operating income to support the development of our high-potential pipeline products and continued growth through additional strategic transactions​.”

Turnaround

This positive outlook is in marked contrast with comments Colangelo made this time last year when, just a few days after his appointment, he announced that Aastrom had halted enrolment in a Phase III trial of a critical limb ischemia therapy​.

In subsequent months the US firm worked to reduce costs, sacking nearly half of its 71-strong workforce and focusing on the development of its lead product, ixmyelocel-T, for the treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). 

The cutbacks appear to have had the desired effect. According to fiscal 2013 results​ Aastrom released last month losses fell to $15.6m from $29.5m in the previous financial year, while R&D spending dropped to $15m from $26m.

Manufacturing moves

Aastrom produces its candidate products for trials at its cell manufacturing facility in Ann Arbor using a culturing process that employs single-use cell cassettes provided by technology firm Vention Medical.

In Previous statements Aastrom has said: “The facility supports the current US clinical trials and has sufficient capacity, with minor modifications, to supply our early commercialization requirements.

We may establish and operate larger commercial-scale cell manufacturing facilities for the US market in the future to accommodate potential market growth.

The firm did not respond when BioPharma-Reporter.com asked how the planned Sanofi acquisition fits with this plan.

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