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Cipla may pick up stake in Manipal's stem cell unit arm

Raghuvir Badrinath  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

Limited, among the largest in the country, is understood to be closing in on a strategic investment in Bangalore-based Stempeutics Research, a stem cell company developing stem cell-based medicinal products. Stem cells are used to replace or initiate the production of other cells that are damaged or missing.

According to industry sources, is expected to invest close to Rs 45 crore in this relatively new firm, which has been working on a pipeline of products for the past five years focused on degenerative diseases. is a subsi-diary of Bangalore-based Rs 500 crore healthcare company — Manipal Health Systems, which runs a chain of hospitals across south India. The management of Stempeutics, Manipal Group and could not be reached for their comments.

Stempeutics had been in the market for the past few months to rope in a strategic partner and raise around Rs 70 crore through the deal. Market sources indicate the company has now settled for around Rs 50 crore and with Cipla expected to come on board, it will benefit from the pharma major in-depth research capabilities.

Stempeutics armed with this fresh infusion is expected to venture into the diabetes segment and Cipla is also expected to fuel the marketing of products developed by this stem cell firm.

According to industry information, Stempeutics has sought regulatory approvals for its prospective product addressing diabetes type II. The company has also identified research in chronic diseases relating to the lungs, cardiac arrest and ulcers. The company’s research involves stem cell from bone marrow, umbilical cord and dental pulp. The company has about 60 scientists and has facilities at Manipal, Bangalore and Kuala Lumpur where it is researching cerebral stroke.

Industry sources further indicate that Stempeutics is working on products which will be available off-the-shelf and is hoping that the first prod-uct will be in the market in another two years’ time.

Stem cell has excited researchers in the recent past and has raised hopes of public because of their potential to relieve symptoms or treat many diseases.

“However, stem cell research raises many ethical, legal, scientific and policy issues that are of concern to policy makers and the public at large. As the research progresses and technologies advance, the regulatory system needs to be strength-ened and a law has to be enacted,” a recent statement for Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said. will also set up the much-awaited National Apex Committee, a body to regulate the scientific community on the crucial health research of stem cell therapy.

First Published: Sat, April 10 2010. 00:50 IST