A leading Australian stem and regenerative medicine company, Cynata Therapeutics was established with the objective of developing therapeutic products using the Cymerus™ technology. With innovative research, translation and commercialisation, Cynata represents the success other emerging Australian RM companies can achieve, with access to the right networks and skills.
Cynata Therapeutics was started by Australian technology entrepreneur Dr Ian Dixon and his ideas for the utilisation of stem cell therapy in medical treatment. Early on, he identified a significant gap in the developmentation of a stem cell treatment: the inability to produce enough consistent high-quality Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that could be consistently manufactured at a significantly large scale.
A key factor in the creation of Cynata Therapeutics was thanks to James Thompson’s work on stem Cells, which Dixon became aware of thanks to his contacts at The University of Wisconsin, Madison (UWM): Professor Igor Slukvin and Dr Maksym Vodyankik. It was this connection that led to Thompson’s invention of Cynata’s CymerusTM methodology. He was also the first to isolate embryonic stem cells.
Cymerus™ is a cell platform technology that addresses the challenges of producing medically consistent MSCs. The technology utilises induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to produce a type of MSC precursor, called a mesenchymoangioblast (MCA). In the past, producing MSCs relied solely on deriving source material or precursor MSCs from donated tissue, primarily bone marrow or adipose tissue. Cynata (in a world first) showed that iPS-based production of MSCs at a commercial scale was not only possible but that all the cells required for MSC production could be made from a single-blood donation.
The benefit of using MSCs in the regenerative medicine space is in their apparent lack of immune reaction. Most importantly, rejection issues for potential patients who use them are non-existent. What is most exciting about Cynata’s technology is the potential that its broad application brings. Diseases including stroke, heart disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis could potentially be treated using their technology. Other applications may also lie in rebuilding bones and cartilage and reducing inflammation.
Leading RM into the future
Since its establishment, Cynata has achieved much. Just recently, Cynata has joined the CCRM Industry Consortium – where it works with other companies to build strong networks, accelerate its commercialisation processes. Furthermore, they have commenced the world’s first clinical trial of Cymerus™ MSC’s in steroid resistant graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Additionally, they have gained success in securing $6m AUD in raised capital in January 2017 and entered into a strategic partnership with Fujifilm Corporation of Japan, positioning Cynata as a key player in Japan’s policy direction.
CEO Dr Ross Macdonald hopes to “partner our technology”, with the company’s long-term goal of investing in “a number of productive and lucrative corporate alliances that will result in the launch of multiple successful products for major unmet medical needs.” True to his word, Cynata’s CEO has garnered significant backing and investment in its technology platform firstly from Germany’s Apceth GmBH & Co., and then from Fujifilm.
Cynata aims to achieve significant milestones in 2018, with plans to complete the GvHD phase 1 clinical trial and receive pre-clinical results from multiple other studies including heart attack, ARDS and Glioblastoma. Although an exciting year lies ahead, Cynata’s work will no doubt be of great inspiration to other emerging RM industries in Australia. We look forward to seeing what they do next.