Stem cell legend attracts $40M round for preclinical testing tech

Madison, WI-based Cellular Dynamics International has raised a $40.6 million Series B to expand on the commercialization of its work harvesting human stem cell lines for preclinical drug testing. Founded by stem cell legend James Thomson from the University of Wisconsin, Cellular Dynamics--a 2008 Fierce 15 company--has been a pioneer in the move to use stem cell technology for more accurate preclinical drug testing.

"We have strong demand from pharmaceutical companies for live heart cells derived from iPSCs because the high purity and quality of our cells result in more accurate preclinical drug testing," said CEO Robert Palay. "Prior to our product introduction, new drugs were tested primarily on either human tissue cells from cadavers, cells derived from tumors, or animal cells, none of which accurately mirror what happens in a live human body. We believe access to iCell Cardiomyocytes will help speed the discovery of safer and more effective medicines."  

Tactics II Stem Cell Ventures led the round with Sam Zell's Equity Group Investments and Sixth Floor Investors LP joining in. Chief Commercial Officer Chris Parker added that the company plans to launch liver, nerve and blood vessel cell products over the next 18 months.

- here's Cellular Dynamics' press release for more info