BioTime, Inc. (NYSE Amex:BTIM), a biotechnology company that develops and markets products in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine, today announced that it has agreed to acquire the Singapore-based company ES Cell International Pte Ltd (ESI). The acquisition is expected to close next week, at which time BioTime will provide full details of the acquisition and outline its business plans with respect to the acquired assets.
“The founding scientists of ESI have been pioneers in the field of regenerative medicine”
Established in 2000, ESI has been at the forefront of advances in human embryonic stem cell technology, being one of the earliest distributors of hES cell lines to the research community. More recently, ESI has produced an additional 6 new clinical-grade human embryonic stem cell lines that were derived following principles of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and currently offers them for potential use in therapeutic product development. ESI's assets also include 20 patent families, including 50 issued patents in the field of stem cell biology, and a significant equity position in the Israel-based stem cell company CellCure Neurosciences Ltd. BioTime plans to combine the newly-acquired assets with its ACTCellerateTM and ReCyteTM technologies to accelerate the development of numerous human therapeutic products.
At closing, BioTime will issue approximately 1.38 million of its common shares and 300,000 warrants to purchase additional common shares. This new class of BioTime warrants will have an exercise price of $10 per BioTime common share and a term of four years. In exchange for these shares and warrants, BioTime will acquire all of ESI's outstanding ordinary and preferred shares, and all of ESI's approximately $35 million of debt and accrued interest. ESI has no significant liabilities other than the debt obligations that BioTime will own after the acquisition.
"The founding scientists of ESI have been pioneers in the field of regenerative medicine," said Michael D. West, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of BioTime, Inc. "The combination of ESI's assets with BioTime give the combined company a broad manufacturing platform for a wide array of potential human therapeutic products."
Regenerative medicine refers to the development and use of therapies based on human embryonic stem (hES) cell or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology. These therapies will be designed to regenerate tissues afflicted by degenerative diseases. The great scientific and public interest in regenerative medicine lies in the potential of hES and iPS cells to become all of the cell types of the human body. Many scientists therefore believe that hES and iPS cells have considerable potential as sources of new therapies for a host of currently incurable diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart failure, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, macular degeneration, hearing loss, liver failure, and many other disorders where cells and tissues become dysfunctional and need to be replaced.
Since human embryonic stem cells are derived from discarded human embryos created in the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), their use in research has been controversial. However, induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells can be created using noncontroversial adult cells, such as skin cells, rather than embryonic cells. The alteration of specific genes in adult cells allows them to be transformed into iPS cells that are very similar to hES. BioTime's stem cell-based product development is in the preclinical stages and will require years of extensive testing prior to being used in an effort to treat humans.