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Licensing Deal Combines Genomics, Placenta Stem Cells

Two pregnant women (Michelle Tribe/Flickr)

(Michelle Tribe, Flickr)

11 August 2014. A new licensing agreement will make available research by Celgene Cellular Therapeutics on stem cells from the placenta to Human Longevity Inc., a company specializing in genomics for age-related disorders. Financial aspects of the agreement were not disclosed, but as part of the deal, Celgene is expected to make an equity investment in Human Longevity.

Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, a division of the biopharmaceutical company Celgene in Warren, New Jersey, develops therapies derived from the placenta and umbilical cord blood. The division includes LifeBankUSA, a placenta and cord blood banking service.

Celgene Cellular Therapeutics is testing in clinical trials placenta-derived stem cells to treat Crohn’s disease, peripheral artery disease, and diabetic foot ulcers. Another early-stage trial is testing the safety of placenta-derived stem cells to treat a range of blood-related cancers and genetic blood diseases.

Human Longevity Inc. in La Jolla, California was founded last year to design therapies and diagnostics based on genomics, stem cells, and informatics to address health issues related to human aging. The company says it aims to build the most comprehensive database of genetic variables and associated physiological traits. Human Longevity’s founders include genomics pioneer Craig Venter, stem cell researcher Robert Hariri, and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, also creator of the X-Prize challenges.

Under the agreement, Human Longevity is licensing Celgene Cellular Therapeutics’s work on placenta-derived stem cells to develop into therapies for age-related conditions such as sarcopenia, associated with the degenerative loss of muscle mass and strength. Much of Human Longevity’s work is based on the premise that the genome changes as the body ages, including degradation to specialized cells, such as stem cells.

Human Longevity says it wants to explore placenta-derived stem cells as another source of healthy regenerative cells for combating the effects of age. The company plans to apply genomic sequencing to Celgene’s placenta-derived stem cells to learn more at the molecular level of their properties and therapeutic potential.

The two companies are hardly strangers. In addition to co-founding Human Longevity, Hariri is the founder of Anthrogenesis, the company acquired by Celgene in 2003 that became Celgene Cellular Therapeutics. Hariri is also senior author of a study by Celgene researchers published in May on the ability of placenta-derived stem cells to stimulate immune system responses.

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