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Novocell Obtains U.S. Patent for Drug Screening Human Embryonic Cell Derived-Endoderm Cells

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Patent Covers Methods for Identifying Endoderm Differentiation Factors

San Diego, CA -- Novocell, Inc., a stem cell engineering company, today announced that it has received U.S. Patent No. 7,541,185 with method claims covering the use of endoderm cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) for drug discovery. This is the second U.S. patent issued to Novocell related to human endoderm. U.S. Patent No. 7,510,876, issued on March 31, 2009, is directed to an in vitro human endoderm composition.

The patented discovery comes from Novocell’s recognized research & development programs to commercialize pluripotent stem cells for broad research and therapeutic uses, in particular, for an innovative cell therapy for the treatment of diabetes. This new patent protects technology that was developed as a research method for drug discovery.

"The use of endoderm for drug screening is a cornerstone of our drug discovery platform," said John West, President & CEO of Novocell. "Embryonic stem cells can be grown almost indefinitely in culture, and therefore a limitless supply of endoderm and endoderm-derived cells can be generated. This meets a long–standing need of major pharmaceutical companies for human cells. Our technology enables the identification of potential endoderm differentiation factors, leading to potential discovery of new drugs & agents for research, and, ultimately, therapeutic use."

"We have patent protection for both human endoderm (U.S. Patent No. 7,510,876 issued on March 31, 2009) and now for its implementation in drug discovery," said E. Emmanuel Baetge, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer for Novocell. "The most important application of this patent will be the use of our patented human endoderm cells to screen for agents that potentially affect endoderm differentiation, for example, to any of the important cells derived from endoderm such as lung, liver, intestine, pancreas, thymus, parathyroid and thyroid."

About Novocell

Novocell, Inc., is a stem cell engineering company with product development operations in San Diego, California, and Athens, Georgia. Its core expertise is in efficient differentiation and encapsulation of human stem cells for therapeutic applications in diabetes. Its technology is expected to provide major advantages in patient treatment efficacy, safety, and manufacturing costs. These cells also provide a significant advantage for cell-based compound screening in drug discovery. The Company was founded in 1999 and merged with CyThera, Inc., and BresaGen, Inc., in 2004.

Novocell was the first to demonstrate that implantation of hES-derived pancreatic cells into mice results in the generation of glucose-responsive insulin producing cells. Such cells exhibit properties characteristic of functional human adult pancreatic insulin producing cells and provide protection in an animal model of diabetes characterized by loss of pancreatic insulin producing cells. See our landmark publications in Nature Biotechnology: D’Amour et al. (2005), D’Amour et al. (2006) and Kroon et al. (2008).

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