BresaGen alliance fast-tracks stem cell program

By Tanya Hollis
Tuesday, 12 March, 2002

Adelaide biotechnology company BresaGen (ASX: BGN) has joined a Canadian imaging technology consortium to help fast-track its therapeutic stem cell delivery program.

The company said its wholly-owned United States subsidiary, BresaGen Inc, had entered an agreement with the Ontario Consortium for Image-guided Therapy and Surgery (OCITS).

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, BresaGen chief executive and president Dr John Smeaton said the company expected the deal to improve its product development timetable.

"BresaGen's decision to become a member of the technology development consortium underscores our commitment to develop a comprehensive cell therapy product line that includes cells derived from stem cells, catheter devices to accurately deliver the cells into target locations, and imaging technologies to evaluate pre- and post-operatively the condition of the local tissue environment," Smeaton said.

The consortium, comprising such institutes as the University of Toronto, Queen's University and Robarts Research Institute, has been set up to generate and promote commercially viable innovations in image-guided surgery and therapy.

Also included in the consortium are 23 private sector members such as General Electric, Northern Digital and Surgical Navigation Specialists.

Scientists within the group have already attracted research funding worth more than $US7 million annually from the US National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Council of Canada.

BresaGen Inc's involvement follows an August 2001 research agreement with the University of Toronto in which imaging technologies would be used to implant stem cells in Parkinson's disease patients.

This is to involve university radiologists using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound to monitor the delivery and efficacy of stem cells delivered directly into the brain.

Under that agreement BresaGen holds the first right to obtain an exclusive license to any patentable invention resulting from this research.

The latest announcement also builds on earlier research partnerships between BresaGen, Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, which are focused on the development of proprietary cell delivery devices and techniques for non-invasive evaluation of implanted stem cells.

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