Novartis talks stem-cells but no word on Gamida rumours

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Novartis talks stem-cells but no word on Gamida rumours

Related tags Pluripotent stem cells Stem cell

Novartis says stem cell-based therapies will form an important part of its pipeline after reports in the Israeli media the firm pulled out of a deal to buy Gamida Cell.

In March this year, Elbit Imaging – the major shareholder in the Israel-based company - announced it had “received a non-binding proposal contemplating its purchase by a global pharmaceutical company”​ for Gamida. However, earlier this month the holding company this deal had fallen through and was “evaluating the consequences”​ of the break down.

Whilst the prospective buyer was not named by Elbit, Novartis was named as having signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by several Israeli media sources, including Globes​ who said the Swiss biopharma was looking at shelling out $200-300m (€145-218m) plus royalty payments for the technology firm. contacted Novartis for more information, and whilst spokesperson Anja von Treskow said the firm did not comment on market speculations or rumours, she did tell us about the company’s stem cell ambition.

“Novartis Pharmaceuticals has active clinical development programs focused on hematopoietic stem cell based therapies derived from ‘circulating blood’ or donated ‘umbilical cord’ blood,”​ she told us. “We expect the importance of stem cell and other cell-based therapies in our pipeline to increase.”

This is illustrated with the licensing last September of Regenerex’ hematopoietic stem-cell based Facilitating Cell Therapy (FCRx) platform, intended to broadedn Novartis’ cell therapy portfolio.

“In almost all cases today we use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) as tools for research rather than embryonic stem cells,”​ von Treskow continued. “iPSCs are derived from adult skin cells that are reprogrammed to enter an embryonic stem cell–like state.”​ 


Gamida has a pipeline of stem cell technology products, with its Copper Cheleta Tech product StemEx currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials.

The product is being developed as an alternative to cord blood transplantation (CBT) in bone marrow transplants, with a portion of umbilical stem cells expanded using Gamida’s technology, which uses ions that modulate self-renewal and differentiation of cultured hematopoietic (blood) progenitor cells (HPC).

The firm is also developing a ‘next generation’ platform used to expand functional cells in culture, while attenuating the continuous morphological and functional alterations of cells during ex vivo cultures.

Following the announcement, shares in both Elbit and Clal Bio – Gamida’s second largest shareholder – dropped. 

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