CRANFORD, N.J., Oct. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Citius Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Citius" or the "Company") (NASDAQ:CTXR), a specialty pharmaceutical company developing and commercializing critical care drug products, announced that it has signed an exclusive agreement with Novellus Therapeutics Limited ("Novellus") to license iPSC-derived mesenchymal stem cells (iMSCs), and has created a new subsidiary, NoveCite, that will be focused on developing cellular therapies.
NoveCite has a worldwide exclusive license from Novellus, an engineered cellular medicines company, to develop and commercialize NoveCite mesenchymal stem cells ("NC-iMSCs") to treat acute respiratory conditions with a near term focus on Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome ("ARDS") associated with COVID-19. Several cell therapy companies using donor-derived MSC therapies in treating ARDS have demonstrated that MSCs reduce inflammation, enhance clearance of pathogens and stimulate tissue repair in the lungs. Almost all these positive results are from early clinical trials or under the emergency authorization program.
NC-iMSCs are the next generation mesenchymal stem cell therapy. They are believed to be differentiated and superior to donor-derived MSCs. Human donor-derived MSCs are sourced from human bone marrow, adipose tissue, placenta, umbilical tissue, etc. and have significant challenges (e.g., variable donor and tissue sources, limited supply, low potency, inefficient and expensive manufacturing). iMSCs overcome these challenges because they:
- Are more potent and secrete exponentially higher levels of immunomodulatory proteins;
- Have practically unlimited supply for high doses and repeat doses;
- Are from a single donor and clonal so they are economically produced at scale with consistent quality and potency, as well as being footprint free (compared to viral reprogramming methods); and,
- Have significantly higher expansion capability.
Globally, there are 3 million cases of ARDS every year out of which approximately 200,000 cases are in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has added significantly to the number of ARDS cases. Once the COVID patients advance to ARDS, they are put on mechanical ventilators. Death rate among patients on ventilators can be as high as 50% depending on associated co-morbidities. There are no approved treatments for ARDS, and the current standard of care only attempts to provide symptomatic relief.
"NoveCite iMSCs have the potential to be a breakthrough in the field of cellular therapy for acute respiratory conditions because of the high potency seen in Novellus' pre-clinical studies, and because iMSCs are iPSC-derived, and therefore overcome the manufacturing challenges associated with donor derived cells," said Myron Holubiak, Chief Executive Officer of Citius.
"We are excited to be part of this effort because of the promise to save lives and reduce long term sequelae in patients with devastating respiratory diseases such as ARDS caused by COVID-19," said Dr. Matthew Angel, Chief Science Officer of Novellus. "Our iMSC technology has multimodal immunomodulatory mechanisms of action that make it potentially promising therapy to treat acute respiratory diseases."