(Written by Alexander Crawford. Data sourced from Finviz.)
A stem cell treatment for heart disease from Australia’s biotech firm Mesoblast Ltd lowered the risk of heart attack or cardiac death by 78% in a recent clinical trial. The study is a promising indication of the wide-ranging benefits that stem cell therapies may eventually offer patients.
The treatment called revascor uses adult stem cells derived from bone marrow of healthy, unrelated donors. The stem cells are delivered directly to the patient’s heart via catheter “on the theory that they will help stimulate growth of blood vessels,” according to Reuters.
Clinical Trial Results
The study just conducted was a 60-patient Phase II trial primarily to test safety. Researchers said there were no cases of adverse events attributed to the stem cells, so the treatment appeared to be safe. The patients in the study had a heart ejection fraction (i.e. the fraction of blood pumped out of the left and right ventricles) less than 40%, when greater than 55% is considered healthy, indicating moderate to severe heart failure.
Although there was no significant improvement in the ejection fraction, the occurrence of major adverse events (heart attacks, cardiac death, or need for artery cleaning procedures) was reduced by 78% and the patients tended to improve on a 6-minute walking test, indicating that they felt better.
Mesoblast Ltd and partner Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) intend to begin a larger Phase III trial for revascor in the first half of next year.
Interested in the future of stem cell therapy? For a look at companies currently involved in this research, we list four US-traded companies currently involved that also have high liquidity, with current ratios above 3.
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1. Geron Corporation (GERN): Develops biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure, and diabetes. Market cap of $289.23M. Current ratio at 14.73. The company is developing a stem cell chondrocyte treatment for cartilage damage and joint disease.
2. BioTime, Inc. (BTX): Focuses on regenerative medicine and blood plasma volume expanders. Market cap of $212.05M. Current ratio at 10.49. The company is developing therapeutic applications of stem cells to treat retinal and neural degenerative diseases, as well as orthopedic diseases, injuries, and cancer.
3. Harvard Bioscience Inc. (HBIO): Develops, manufactures, and markets apparatus and scientific instruments used in life science research in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities, and government laboratories in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $117.71M. Current ratio at 5.72. The company develops injectors for stem cell therapy.
4. Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. (CBLI): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of products for cancer treatment, and protection of normal tissues from radiation and other acute stresses. Market cap of $91.97M. Current ratio at 3.34. The company is developing a product that induces protection and regeneration of stem cells, defending against acute stresses such as radiation and chemotherapy.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to see how analyst ratings have changed for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.