Mesoblast to acquire Angioblast and speed up stem cell work

Australia's Mesoblast is snapping up the outstanding shares of New York-based Angioblast Systems in a deal that marries their work with mesenchymal precursor cells and positions the stem cell therapy developer to launch its first marketing operation in 2012.

The deal calls for Mesoblast to swap its shares for the 67 percent of Angioblast it doesn't already own. The Angioblast package comes with the IP to experimental therapies for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and eye disease, as well as a leukemia program. And the stem cell outfit raised $33 million in a stock sale to bankroll late-stage clinical trials.

Angioblast's lead program relies on mesenchymal precursor cells to rev up umbilical cord blood used in the bone marrow transplants needed by leukemia patients. Mesoblast is gambling that a late-stage trial this year will confirm the results of a small study involving 18 patients that effectively restored the white blood cells the body relies on to fight infections. Another therapy, Revascor, is designed to restore cardiovascular muscles in heart attack victims. Mesoblast estimated that Angioblast's therapies could generate up to $500 million a year--provided they can reach approval.

"Apart from the breadth of products that it gives Mesoblast, it gives us more mature programs that are moving their way through to conclusions and revenues," Mesoblast CEO Silviu Itescu told Bloomberg. The acquisition values Angioblast at $222 million and gives the combined company a value of $405 million.

"This breadth of products will enable the Mesoblast Group to focus on three simultaneous commercial strategies: taking lead products to market on our own and retaining 100 percent of the commercial upside, entering into distribution agreements to leverage sales/marketing strength, and partnering through broad-based strategic alliances," Itescu notes in a statement.

- here's Mesoblast's press release
- here's the story from Bloomberg