Pharmaceutical developer Mesoblast has announced a breakthrough after more than a decade attempting to commercialise its lead drug – and it has taken the Covid-19 pandemic to make it happen.
The company, which has operations in Australia, Singapore and the United States is awaiting a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration on the use of its stem cell drug remestemcel-L for treating graft versus host disease in pediatric patients.
However the company’s shares soared on Friday with news that Mesoblast had licensed the drug to global pharma Novartis to treat life-threatening respiratory conditions, particularly those which kill a large number of Covid-19 patients.
The deal for treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is worth up to $1.7 billion plus double digit royalties, and does not affect the company’s ability to commercialise remestemcel-L for other conditions.
Covid patients on ventilators have been enrolled in its phase 3 trial testing using remestemcel-L to improve survival chances, with further trials planned in the US.
CEO of the Melbourne biotech Dr Silviu Itescu said: “This agreement is in line with our corporate strategy to collaborate and partner with world-leading major pharma companies in order to maximise market access for our innovative cellular medicines.”
Mesoblast shares have had a topsy turvy ride, soaring on good news and crashing on doubts, however the Novartis deal is a breakthrough.
The company is also commercialising two other drugs for advanced chronic heart failure and chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease.
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