Stem Cell Specialist ReNeuron Raises $105 Million to Fund Research Through 2019

Published: Jul 10, 2015

Stem Cell Specialist ReNeuron Raises $105 Million to Fund Research through 2019
July 10, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

GUILDFORD, England -- ReNeuron, a clinical stage stem cell specialist, raised $105 million in new a new round of funding to help support its work in stroke, blindness and caner through 2019, Reuters reported this morning.

The company, which was founded in 1997, said this funding round was the largest in its 18-year history.

Shares in ReNeuron jumped more than 16 percent this morning following news of the fundraising effort. The stock was trading at a morning high of $6 per share, up from its opening price of $5.12 per share.

The fundraising effort includes placing shares at a price of 5 pence per new ordinary share or a 2.5 percent premium to the July 9 closing level. Woodford Investment Management LLC, which holds about 24 percent of ReNeuron, will be increasing its stake in the company to more than 35 percent, the company said.

Olav Hellebø, chief executive officer of ReNeuron, said the funding will allow the company to “rapidly exploit” the potential of the ReNeuron’s CTX, hRPC and exosome nanomedicine therapeutic platforms. In a statement about the fundraising, he also said the funding should be adequate enough to drive those programs through the regulatory authorization stage.

ReNeuron uses proprietary allogeneic stem cell technologies to develop cell-based therapies for significant disease conditions where the cells can be administered “off-the-shelf” to eligible patients without the need for additional immunosuppressive drug treatments. The company uses stem cells from a tissue bank that were originally derived from an aborted fetus, rather than embryos, to produce "off-the-shelf" treatments for patients, Reuters said.

ReNeuron’s stroke therapies are currently in a Phase II program and is conducting Phase I clinical studies in critical limb ischaemia, a common side-effect of diabetes. Additionally ReNeuron will be conducing a Phase I/II clinical trial in the United States for retinitis pigmentosa, a blindness-causing disease of the retina.

ReNeuron’s stem cell therapy candidate for the blindness causing disease, retinitis pigmentosa, has received Orphan Drug Designation in the U.S. and Europe, providing the potential for seven and 10 years of post-approval market exclusivity, respectively. The eye program received Fast Track status in the U.S. by the Federal Drug Administration.

Clinical data from the three trials are expected sometime in 2018, Reuters reported.

Reuters said analysts are calling ReNeuron’s programs risky, but have the potential to generate large profits.

This year’s fundraising efforts comes on the heels of ReNeuron’s collaborative deal with Australian biotech firm Benitec Biopharma to develop a new cellular therapy program including exosome-based delivery utilizing Benitec’s proprietary ddRNAi technology.

In 2013 ReNeuron raised nearly $50 million in funding, including about $18 million in grants from the Welsh government, that assisted the company in its relocation effort to South Wales, which will be completed later this year. Welsh government representatives said the investment in ReNeuron’s relocation would provide an overall benefit to a growing life sciences industry in the area.

As New Jersey Biotech Booms, Will It Overtake Other States As Prime Location?
A week after Celgene Corporation announced it is officially the mystery buyer of Merck & Co. ’s former 1 million-square-foot R&D site in Summit, N.J., it quickly became our most popular story last week.

The company announced last Wednesday that it is buying the space, ending months of speculation about what Big Pharma company might move into the neighborhood.

The Summit, N.J. site is zoned research/office. The New Jersey site would put operations closer to some of the major biotech and pharmaceutical hubs on the East Coast.

But, by far, the most tempting part of doing business in the state remains New Jersey’s operating tax credit, which allows companies to sell their net operating losses to the New Jersey Treasury. One of the state’s most recognizable biotechs, Celgene, used the program until it became profitable, which was key to it staying in the state, said local officials.

That has BioSpace is wondering if New Jersey is becoming the new face of biotech. What do you think? Can the Garden State compete with other longtime stalwarts like California or Boston?

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