Todd Finkelmeyer — 11/25/2008 7:53 am
The economy might be mired in a prolonged downturn, but that hasn't kept one local biotech company from raising some much-needed funds.
Cellular Dynamics International -- which is housed at University Research Park and is co-founded by stem cell pioneer Jamie Thomson and three other University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists -- announced Monday it received $18 million in a financing round led by Tactics II Stem Cell Ventures.
"I think CDI is something that investors can see the potential in, even in the current economic crisis that we're in," Chris Kendrick-Parker, chief commercial officer of Cellular Dynamics, said in a phone interview.
Kendrick-Parker said the financing will be used to help transfer the technology CDI has garnered during research into the product development and production phases.
Cellular Dynamics also announced it has merged with a pair of sister companies founded by Thomson -- Stem Cell Products, Inc., and iPS Cells, Inc. The new firm, which will retain the name of Cellular Dynamics International, now has more than 50 employees, according to Kendrick-Parker.
CDI currently is commercializing pluripotent stem cells -- which have the ability to transform into any cell in the body -- for use by the pharmaceutical industry as a superior way to test drugs for toxicity prior to reaching market. For example, one of the products Cellular Dynamics is marketing is heart cells derived from stem cells called human cardiomyocytes, or CMs. These could be used by drugmakers as a way to test medication on human heart cells before they are tried on real people.
Cellular Dynamics closed on its $18 million Series A financing round in early October. Tactics II Stem Cell Ventures LP led the round, with participation from Tactics II Ventures LP -- a Wisconsin-based venture capital firm -- and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which is UW-Madison's patent and licensing arm.