BALTIMORE—Osiris Therapeutics announced recently the expansion of a licensing agreement with JCR Pharmaceuticals that will see the Ashiya, Japan-based company sell adult human stem cells for use in drug screening and evaluation in Japan. The cell technology will allow companies involved in drug discovery and development to screen test compounds for a variety of metabolic effects.
Osiris specializes in stem cell-based therapeutics, so the application of this technology as a drug screening tool represents something of a departure from the general market application. Unadulterated and unaltered, stem cells offer researchers the opportunity to screen compounds against a more "biologically natural" cellular background than many other cell types that are traditionally used in cell-based assays.
"This represents a totally new market for our stem cell technology," said Dr. C. Randal Mills, Osiris president and CEO, in a press release. "The market is readily accessible given the demand for this application and the fact that it does not carry the significant regulatory burden of a drug product."
According to Shin Ashida, JCR chairman and CEO, the expanded agreement with Osiris offers JCR new commercial opportunities in drug discovery with the application of stem cells for drug screening and evaluation.
The deal is an extension of an August 2003 agreement that granted JCR the Japanese rights to commercialize stem cell-based therapeutics that Osiris had developed for the treatment of Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD), a condition prevalent in leukemia patients receiving bone marrow transplants. JCR is presently completing clinical trials that it will present to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan's FDA equivalent.
"As we look forward to further strengthening our relationship with Osiris, we shall continue to explore expanding upon the potential of these cells," added Ashida in a press release.
Osiris has received and will receive payments and additional fees as various milestones are met, including the successful launch of JCR's GvHD product, although financial terms were not made available.