WideCells Group PLC, the healthcare services company focused on providing stem cell banking services and ground breaking insurance for stem cell treatment, is pleased to announce that it has taken steps to secure a new revenue stream, in addition to the cash flow opportunities outlined in the Company’s prospectus published in July this year, having signed a Letter of Intent (‘LOI’) with Qigenix and its CEO, Dr. Todd Ovokaitys. Qigenix is a California-based clinical stage medical device company which has co-developed a new laser technology designed to increase the homing and integration of stem cells.
The two parties aim to sign a definitive, binding agreement (the 'Definitive Agreement') before 1 March 2017. Qigenix has agreed to pay a fee of £100,000 in aggregate to WideCells Group to undertake research work at its Institute of Stem Cell Technology laboratory (‘ISCT’) at the University of Manchester Innovation Centre (‘UMIC’), designed to test Qigenix’s laser technology on cord blood cells to enhance the clinical applications of these cells (the ‘Research Project’). The first payment of £25,000, which is binding under the LOI, will be paid to WideCells by the end of December 2016. The remaining £75,000 will be paid in two further instalments, with the final payment due when the research project is completed, which is targeted for Q2 2018.
The ISCT is operated by the Company’s stem cell laboratory division, WideCells, which has been established primarily to retrieve, process and store stem cells from a wide range of human tissues in Europe within its Cryogenics department. In support of this, the ISCT has recently made an application to the Human Tissue Authority (‘HTA’) for a Human Application Licence (application number 22665). Additional licence applications for dental pulp and adipose stem cells are planned to be made in 2017. However, with this LOI now signed, the Company is now applying to the HTA Research Licence to permit it to carry out the Research Project. The Research Project is planned to begin in H1 2017, subject to the HTA Research Licence having been granted.
Work to establish the ISCT is progressing according to schedule and budget. It is due to become operational in H1 2017. The Cryogenics Department, which will handle the freezing and long term storage of stem cells, is currently under development. The Cryogenics Department will have state of the art controlled rate freezing technology along with liquid nitrogen tanks for the long term storage of stem cells. The storage tanks are constantly monitored and have automatic alarms, which contact WideCells ISCT staff directly in the event of any activities which could affect the quality and safety of the stored stem cells. The Cryogenics Department has constant atmospheric oxygen level monitoring linked to an automatic ventilation system which activates if the atmospheric oxygen levels drop due to the presence of liquid nitrogen. This system is essential for the health and safety of WideCells ISCT staff. The Cryogenics Department also has a bespoke security system, including CCTV monitors, to ensure the safety and security of stored stem cells.
WideCells Group CEO, João Andrade, said:
The signing of the LOI with Qigenix represents a significant milestone in the fulfilment of WideCells’ strategy. We established the Institute of Stem Cell Technology at UMIC in order to create a stem cell processing and storage facility in the UK, and whilst we continue to make excellent progress in this regard we are delighted to have identified a second potential revenue stream from this facility. We look forward to announcing completion of the definitive agreement and receipt of our first revenues. Qigenix has co-developed an extremely innovative laser technology, which has the potential to enhance the clinical applications of stem cells, and we are delighted to be able to offer our state-of-art-technology and industry knowledge to further the development of this. WideCells is committed to broadening access to and combating the financial barriers associated with stem cell treatment and we are consequently delighted to be able to support research and innovation within the sector.