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6 December, 2006 - 13:55 By Staff Reporter

Stem cell firm on growth fast-track

Stem cell specialist NovaThera is pursuing a strategy of ‘organic growth,’ with plans to double its Cambridge workforce, build a new manufacturing plant and raise a sizable venture capital round, Business Weekly can exclusively reveal.The Imperial College, London spin-out moved to the Babraham Research campus in Cambridge in 2004 and with two products due for launch in 2007, is planning to ramp up its operations in the East of England.

NovaThera is a regenerative medicine company, specialising in both tissue engineering scaffolds and human embryonic stem cells.

The field of tissue engineering brings together the scientific disciplines of biology, materials science and biomedical engineering directed towards the long term repair and replacement of failing human tissues and organs.

Most obviously the ability to repair or replace tissue that has degenerated addresses directly a wide range of ailments and diseases associated with the aging process from hair loss to renewed joint replacements and even damage to the lungs, an area in which NovThera specialises.

Speaking exclusively in our new Talking Heads feature, which poses 10 pertinent questions to the region’s business leaders (See Page 9) NovaThera CEO Dr Gareth Roberts revealed that his company was seeking to close a Series B funding round of between £2m and £5m within the next three months, with a great deal of interest coming from US backers.

Dr Roberts said: “Depending on business progress, we would expect our Cambridge workforce to double in size from 14 currently to 28 or so by the end of 2007.

“Midway through 2007 we will be looking at our physical operations and could decide to rationalise manufacturing in an additional facility.

“Although it is working on programmes to regenerate both lung and heart cells, Nova-Thera’s TheraGlass technology platform is by far the closest to market, with the intention of launching a product incorporating it before the end of next year.

“TheraGlass is a novel bioactive material which interacts with the body’s tissues to stimulate cell growth and provide antibacterial, structural or regenerative proteins.

“TheraGlass is non-toxic and is reabsorbed and excreted through the bodies natural metabolic processes. It can be provided as a solid or powder and can easily be combined with gels and sprays.

“Working with the US company, Advanced Bio-Technologies, the initial products will target burn injuries and incorporate TheraGlass as a method of controlled delivery of bacteriocidal silver ions to the wound site.

“Regenerative healthcare is in its infancy with no major players established, markets open to product development and a global scale.”

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