LifeCell International, a Chennai-based cord blood banking and stem cell research company, plans to raise around Rs 46 crore through private equity firms. The proposed fund-raising is to support the company's proposed entry into biosimilars business and for its brand-building exercise.
Mayur Abhaya, executive director, LifeCell International Pvt Ltd, said that the company was planning to invest into research for development of biosimilars for dendritic cell vaccine, a therapeutic vaccine to treat prostate cancer and a mesenchymal stem cells therapy for Type I diabetes.
"We have been into stem cell research and banking industry for all these years, but the brand was not exposed. Of the proposed investment, 60 per cent will be spent on brand building, while remaining 40 per cent will be for biosimilar research," he said.
Abhaya quoted a recent study by Duke University's Medical Centre as identifying dendritic stem cells, derived from bone marrow, to be capable of detecting foreign proteins in the body and to be of use in vaccines to treat cancer.
A patented product, Provenge, using the dendritic cells has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to treat prostate cancer. LifeCell will work on its own technology to develop a biosimilar to work on the same area.
It will apply for approval of Drug Controller General of India for clinical trials by the end of current fiscal. Considering the long process of clinical trials, the products would take at least three to four years to reach final stage, said Abhaya.
LifeCell Femme, a service offered to women between the age of 18 to 35 to collect and preserve stem cells from menstrual blood during menstrual cycle for future treatments, is expected to go on stream from March 2011.
While the current umbilical cord blood cells banking activities constrains its operations to only pregnant women, the company expects every woman in the country in the age bracket would come under the segment.
The company will focus more into extending its reach into public and spreading awareness on the potential of stem cell banking and therapy. It has also plans to launch a LifeCell Foundation, to provide stem cell services to the patients who are unable to afford the cost of such therapies at concession rates or even free of cost, on case by case basis.