Cerus uses momentum from recent FDA approvals to raise $70M

The Intercept Blood System for plasma--Courtesy of Cerus

Cerus ($CERS) is up almost 40% in the last month on news of a couple of approvals for its Intercept Blood System to treat blood products. The small cap took advantage of that upswing to raise $70 million to help finance commercialization of the system.

In early trading on the financing news, Cerus was up about 3% to a market cap of around $450 million.

Despite its small size, Cerus has some well-known life sciences investors. At Sept. 30, its major holders included Baker Brothers Advisors (15.26%), OrbiMed Advisors (9.18%), BlackRock (6.6%), Royce & Associates (4.81%) and The Vanguard Group (3.02%). Baker Brothers and OrbiMed both made our recent list of top life sciences investors.

In December, the FDA approved the Intercept Blood System for use with platelets and also for plasma. Blood products typically are screened for diseases before being transferred from donor to patient, but usually they aren't treated to deter pathogens. Cerus hopes that its system will be broadly adopted by the 60 major blood centers in the U.S., including four major groups such as the American Red Cross and HemeXcel.

The system is designed to reduce the risk of infection by treating blood products to remove known and unknown pathogens. Cerus has reported that a U.S. Phase II clinical trial and a European Phase III trial of the Intercept system to treat red blood cells met their primary endpoints. The company plans to file for a CE mark in red blood cells during the second half of 2016.

Investors likely are also intrigued by the system's potential specifically for treating patients suffering from the deadly Ebola virus. Cerus has received FDA approval to conduct a Phase I trial under an investigational device exemption to treat plasma derived from patients who were previously infected with Ebola and have recovered.

That treated plasma will then be transfused into patients who are actively fighting the virus, thereby providing antibodies that could help fight the virus. The company has an elaborate disclaimer in an SEC filing that it has no data to indicate that its system is effective in inactivating the Ebola virus.

- here is the release

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