Many, if not most, Stem Cell Sector Companies have been in business for ten years or more. Several have reached the clinical stage and of those a few are currently moving into Phase II clinical trials in the United States. Because of the cost and time required in U.S. Clinical trials, some companies have concentrated on European or other non-U.S. trials.
The result has been to demonstrate safety, and in some cases even efficacy, in difficult diseases with no current therapies. The emphasis from an investing standpoint seems to be with companies that have proven the safety of their potential therapies. However, the suggestion of efficacy has been rewarded with increased market caps. And in one case, Osiris Therapeutics Inc. (OSIR), the first company to receive an agency approval, market cap has moved markedly.
Approval in Canada of Osiris's Prochymal (an allogeneic as opposed to autologous mesenchymal stem cell product) bumped Osiris's market cap into a league of its own at the $355M level. Prochymal is the first and only stem cell therapy to be approved thus far.
The second tier in market capitalization consists of Advanced Cell Technology (ACTC), Pluristem Cell Therapeutics (PSTI) and Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX). These all have current market caps in the $170M range.
The next tier includes Athersys Inc. (ATHX), Neuralstem Inc. (CUR), and Neostem Inc. (NBS), all with current market caps in the $98M range. Stemcell Technologies (STEM) would have been included here. However, its market cap has remained at around $72M. Neostem reached the 98M market cap level some time ago, Athersys and Neuralstem only recently. It remains to be seen which will separate itself from the others or whether they are already separating themselves from STEM.
It should be noted that these market capitalizations are not necessarily measures, or even strong suggestions, of eventual efficacy. The most efficacious results shown so far -- in studies that have been designed not for efficacy but for safety -- have come from Advanced Cell Technology and Neuralstem. However, it remains to be seen whether any of the science represented in the sector will end up in broadly used therapies.
The remainder of the Stem Cell Sector companies are mired in market capitalizations varying from 5M to 35M dollars. None of these show signs of moving into the above tiers at the moment.