Press releases from Stem Cell Sector Companies serve the purpose of raising awareness in both the medical and investing communities. Stem Cell research, the development of regenerative medicine, and the evolution of commercialized applications are all moving forward. As with any human endeavor, the forward moves are not always smooth. Sometimes commercialized applications can actually precede research results. Such has been the case with our Sector Companies that manufacture and sell medical devices.
Cardiogenesis, Athersys, Thermogenesis, Bioheart, Cytori Therapeutics, are all companies hoping that research and eventual clinical test results will make the devices they manufacture more in demand in the medical market place. At times what information is released to the press is expressed in ways to suggest greater results are at hand than might actually be the case. For the investing public, these announcements always pose a challenge. Reported results or advances must be placed in a context, something not always easy to do.
Most recently, on May 28th, Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX) issued a press release titled, "Cytori Reports Publication of Cardiovascular Preclinical Study; Adipose Stem & Regenerative Cells Improve Function in Heart Attack Model."
The press release was issued before the market opened on May 28th. Cytori's stock closed at $3.08 per share on the Wednesday, the 27th. On Friday, the closing price was $3.79 with almost 2 million shares having traded on Thursday and Friday. Before the market opened on the 27th, Cytori issued a release titled, "Cytori Completes Enrollment in First Adipose Stem & Regenerative Cell Therapy Trial for Chronic Heart Disease." Note that this release deals with heart disease while the release a day later dealt with heart attack. These are very different conditions from the standpoint of treatment. On the 27th, Cytori's stock closed at $3.08, up from $3.04 on the 26th prior to the announcement. Volume on the 27th was 398m shares, below the Cytori average of approximately 500m shares per day.
So, from the looks of it, Cytori's share price increased by over 23% on 2 million shares based primarily on the press release before market opening on the 28th.
Keep in mind that there is a competition between adipose and bone marrow stem cells. The arena has been pre-clinical testing for the most part. There are now clinical tests taking place on a variety of diseases and medical conditions employing bone marrow derived stem cells. Adipose derived stem cells have been behind but are beginning to catch up in testing. Cytori has been both an initiator and supporter of such testing. Both adipose and bone marrow contain mesenchymal stem cells. From what has been published thus far, there does not seem to be a major difference between the mesenchymal cells (a type of adult stem cell that shows great clinical promise) found in these two sources.
Here are excerpts from the Cytori release:
"In Cytori's preclinical study, 17 large animals (pigs) were treated with their own uncultured adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells immediately following induction of a severe myocardial infarction. Uncultured cells include a multitude of heterogeneous cell types that Cytori believes facilitate several therapeutic mechanisms. Several functional measurements within the study indicated statistically significant improvement in both heart function and structure."
Cytori then provided a table indicating improvement in heart function of from 19% to 25% in several categories.
We found the following results from a 2004 Johns Hopkins press release concerning a very similar study, except in the JH study bone marrow derived stem cells were used:
Here as an excerpt from the John's Hopkins release.
"In a controlled study of 14 pigs (whose circulatory systems are similar to humans), seven received therapy and another seven did not. The researchers found that injections of bone marrow, or "adult," stem cells directly into heart muscle, recently damaged by a heart attack, produced a nearly full recovery after a relatively short period of time, two months.
Recovery was measured for the seven treated animals as full restoration of heart muscle contraction to levels existing prior to infarction. Indeed, dead scar tissue nearly disappeared after therapy, which produced mostly healthy, normal-looking heart tissue and left only a small trace of the heart attack, the researchers said.
In contrast, for the seven animals in the control group that did not receive therapy but were injected, instead, with placebo, no recovery was observed and the animals' condition worsened, leading to the development of congestive heart failure within two months after heart attack."
As we've said in the past, potential investors should read press releases with great care and should make the attempt to find a context for reported results in terms of competing results and potential timing implicitly suggested for a future application. While it seems to be the case that adipose and bone marrow stem cells will both find their way to therapuetic application, the variety of optimal uses for one or the other, the ease of use differences, and any potential negatives of usage have yet to be determined.