Citius Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXR) has announced that it has entered an exclusive license agreement with Novellus Therapeutics limited to licensing iPSC-derived mesenchymal stem cells (iMSCs). The company has also formed a new subsidiary called NoveCite, which will focus on the development of cellular therapies.
Novellus subsidiary to develop proprietary NC-iMSCs
The subsidiary has a global exclusive license from engineered cellular medicines company Novellus for the development and commercialization of NoveCite Mesenchymal stem cells. The company will develop the NC-iMSCs to treat acute respiratory conditions with the focus on COVID-19 related Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in the near term. A lot of companies are employing donor-derived MSC therapies in the treatment of ARDS, with most showing the MSCs can reduce inflammation. As a result, they can enhance pathogens clearance and stimulate lung tissue repair. Most of these encouraging results are from early clinical studies or under emergency authorization program.
NC-iMSCs are the latest mesenchymal stem cell therapy believed to be superior and differentiated to donor-derived MSCs. Human donor-derived MSCs are usually obtained from adipose tissues, human bone marrow, umbilical tissue, and placenta. They have challenges such as limited supply, variable donor and tissue sources, low potency, and expensive and inefficient manufacturing.
On the other hand, iMSCs tend to overcome the challenges presented by human-derived MSCs by offering more potency and secreting high immunomodulatory protein levels. Also, they offer unlimited high doses of supply with significantly higher expansion capability.
COVID-19 has increased ARDS cases globally
There are over 3 million ARDS cases annually across the globe, of which 200,000 are in the US. The pandemic has contributed to an increase in the number of ARDS cases, as those with COVID-19 related ARDS they have to be put on ventilators.
Matthew Angel, the Chief Scientific Officer of Novellus, said that they are delighted to be part of the effort because of the promise of saving lives and reducing long-term sequelae in patients with COVID-19 related ARDS. Angel said that their iMSC tech has multimodal immunomodulatory action mechanisms, which make it a promising therapy.