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Shares in stem cell biotech Mesoblast are going nuts

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Shares in stem cell treatment biotech Mesoblast are soaring again.

A short time ago, they were up 35% to $2.99. At that price, the shares have doubled since the beginning of the year and are up 150% since mid-February when they hit a low of $1.14.

There was no apparent reason for the latest rise, with no announcements. A spokesman for the company said the market was fully informed.

The shares surged last month when the company announced its stem cell treatment has been found effective in helping children survive bone marrow transplants.

A week before that the company said a trial of Mesoblast’s stem cell product had been shown to be effective for rheumatoid arthritis.

Mesoblast is also working on treatments for inflammatory ailments, cardiovascular disease and back pain.

And it has made inroads into Japan. Its licensee in Japan, JCR Pharmaceuticals, has Temcell, a treatment used to help grafts, fully approved in Japan.

Last year Celgene Corporation, a global biopharmaceutical company, paid $58.5 million for about 4.7% of Mesoblast and access to its anti-cancer drugs.

The company posted a loss of $US35.48 million for the half year to December, an 18% improvement on lower research and development and management costs, with revenue of $US11.52 million. It has cash reserves of about $US120 million.

The use of stem cells to fix damaged or diseased human tissue is becoming big business, with more than 700 companies globally with a regenerative medicine focus. Mesoblast is one of a handful in Australia making progress in commercialising stem cell treatments.

The global market is valued at $16.4 billion and is expected to grow at 23.2% a year to reach $67.5 billion in 2020, according to analysts at Frost & Sullivan.

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