BioTime, Inc. (NYSE Amex:BTX) today announced it has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Cornell University for the worldwide development and commercialization of technology developed at Weill Cornell Medical College for the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into vascular endothelial cells. Published last year in Nature Biotechnology, the methods provide an improved means of generating these cells on an industrial scale, and will be utilized by BioTime in diverse products including those under development at BioTime’s subsidiaries ReCyte Therapeutics, Inc. targeting age-related vascular disease, and at OncoCyte Corporation to deliver a toxic payload to cancerous tumors.
“The technology invented by Drs. Shahin Rafii and Daylon James of the Weill Cornell Medical College is both elegant and useful, and may provide a means to generate virtually limitless quantities of high quality vascular cells,” said Joseph Wagner, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of OncoCyte. “The products derived from the combination of this technology with BioTime’s ACTCellerate TM and OncoCyte’s existing technologies to target and destroy malignant tumors, may lead to an entirely new modality for the treatment of solid tumors.”
“In addition to obtaining exclusive worldwide licenses to the patent-pending Cornell technology, we have entered into a sponsored research agreement with Weill Cornell Medical College that will utilize the expertise of the scientists who developed the licensed technology,” said Steve Kessler, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development of BioTime’s subsidiary ReCyte Therapeutics, Inc. “This collaboration will allow ReCyte Therapeutics’ scientists to collaborate with leading scientists at Cornell in the field of vascular biology, accelerating requisite animal and preclinical testing prior to human clinical use.”
Vascular endothelial cells form the tubular structure of the very small blood vessels known as capillaries, and the innermost cells of larger arteries and veins in the body. When these cells become dysfunctional, they are believed to play a key role in numerous disease processes such as coronary heart disease and stroke. The ability to reprogram cell lifespan and manufacture young and healthy patient-specific vascular endothelial cells may prove to be critically important for the future of certain therapeutic strategies in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. One of the largest markets may be age-related vascular disease such as coronary disease and stroke. BioTime has tested the Cornell technology when combined with BioTime’s ACTCellerate™ technology and has successfully produced highly purified monoclonal embryonic vascular endothelium. This high level of purity and scalability is expected to facilitate the manufacture of clinical-grade cells that may be used for transplantation therapies.