Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP) talks stem cell trials & partnerships


by Jessica Amir

Cynata Therapeutics Limited (ASX:CYP) CEO, Dr Ross Macdonald provides an update on its Phase 1 clinical trial for the treatment of Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD), its stem cell manufacturing technology and partnerships.

Jessica Amir:
Hi I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Joining me from Cynata Therapeutics Limited (ASX:CYP) is CEO, Dr Ross Macdonald. Ross, welcome.

Dr Ross Macdonald: Thank you.

Jessica Amir: First up for those new to the company. Can you give us a quick introduction?

Dr Ross Macdonald: Cynata Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing a unique manufacturing process for the production of therapeutic stem cells. Most investors today are aware of the promise of stem cells. And more broadly, regenerative medicine, as one of the key new growth areas for medical treatment, addressing major unmet medical needs like cancer, osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease and so on. And the approach to manufacturing stem cells is one of the greatest challenges that this new sector faces. And that is the technology that Cynata is developing today.

Jessica Amir: You’ve just released your FY17 report. What were some of the highlights?

Dr Ross Macdonald: We had a fantastic year. It’s been a year of real growth for the company, very pivotal year. We announced a strategic partnership with FUJIFILM Holdings Corp (TYO:4901), one of the major players in the regenerative medicine and stem cell industry. FUJIFILM is now a nine per cent shareholder in Cynata. And we also announced a world first clinical trial, the commencement of a trial using our stem cell product CYP-001 in Graft versus host disease, very very exciting milestone for the company.

Jessica Amir: Can you tell us about your Cymerus stem cell technology platform, how far advanced is it?

Dr Ross Macdonald: We just started a clinical trial this year, so that certainly is a major milestone for any biotech product. It’s actually getting into human beings to determine whether the product is safe and effective. It’s obviously relatively easy to show efficacy in animal models, but getting into the clinic is one of the most important steps. So we’re at that point now and we hope to announce the results from that trial in 2018, so within about eight months or so.

Jessica Amir: A more general question now, regenerative medicine is really playing a huge part in big pharma. Can you tell us about the market size and the opportunity?

Dr Ross Macdonald: Mesenchymal stem cells, the particular type of cell that our technology manufactures, are probably the most exciting type of stem cell under investigation today. There are around 650 clinical trials being conducted around the world with Mesenchymal stem cells, in diseases ranging from osteoarthritis, through asthma, Crohn’s disease and complications of diabetes. Now if anyone of those indications is successful, the market potential is well in the millions of dollars, and let alone if multiple indications show success. So it’s a very very exciting opportunity. The recent approval in the United States of one of the newest cell therapy products, a product called Kymriah, shows that this technology now is more than just evolving. It’s here today, a very very exciting development in cell therapies.

Jessica Amir: Where would you like to see the company 12 months from now and longer term?

Dr Ross Macdonald: Obviously we’re hoping for great success in our phase one clinical study, that’s underway at the moment. And also we look to FUJIFILM extending their relationship with the company. They have an option to the first disease target that we’re investigating at the moment, that’s Graft versus host disease. And that option is exercised at any time, up until we complete the phase one clinical study. And if they move forward, then all of the costs of developing that product are borne by them, so obviously not a drain on our balance sheet. So I look to those two exciting developments in the next 12 months, as being major catalysts for value for Cynata and its shareholders.

Jessica Amir: Ross Macdonald, thank you so much.

Dr Ross Macdonald: Thank you, thanks for your time.