Vericel, An Old Genzyme Corporation Business, Quietly Gets New Life And Space In Cambridge

Published: Oct 21, 2014

Vericel, An Old Genzyme Business, Quietly Gets New Life And Space In Cambridge

October 21, 2014

By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Vericel, a publicly traded biotechnology company with 200 employees, officially moved to Cambridge, Mass., during the week of Oct. 13. However, it received little fanfare when it happened, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Aastrom Biosciences, a Michigan-based biotechnology company, created the company last spring. Aastrom was responsible for purchasing Sanofi’s cell therapy and regenerative medicine business, which was a holdover from Sanofi’s acquisition of Genzyme in 2011.

In an interview with the Business Journal last week, Aastrom CEO Nick Colangelo said that his company had never owned an approved product prior to creating the spin-off business, which has three approved products.

"For us, we were focused on broadening our products," Colangelo told the news source. “[The acquisition] instantly transformed us from a clinical stage company into a commercial stage one."

Back in June, the merged company had to lay off 80 Sanofi employees to make more profit from its new commercial products, Carticel, Epicel and MACI. It wasn’t until last week that the name change to Vericel was made official.

Now that the company is moving to Cambridge, it will focus on the U.S. approval of its drug, MACI, which is meant to treat articular cartilage damage.

"The proposed name change and plan to move our headquarters to Cambridge are the next steps in the transformation of Aastrom from a clinical-stage company to a fully integrated, commercial-stage specialty biologics company," said Colangelo, following the company’s official announcement.

"The new corporate name reflects our leading position in the cell therapy market, and our expanded presence in the vibrant Cambridge biotechnology community will increase our access to both talent and technology as we continue to grow our company, maximize the potential of our two U.S. marketed products, Carticel and Epicel, and bring our late-stage product candidates, MACI and ixmyelocel-T, to market."

Aastrom is dedicated to developing patient-specific cellular therapies for severe diseases. MACI is a third-generation autologous chondrocyte implantation product for the treatment of focal chondral cartilage defects in the knee.

On Sept. 11, Aastrom announced pricing of its public offering of common stock, starting at $2.55 per share. It had more than 13 million shares of common stock on the table at the time of the announcement.

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