It can be a celebration time for the stem cell research firm Osiris Therapeutics. First it posted its profit. Secondly, it announced a big deal with a Cambridge, Mass., biotech worth up to $1.25 billion.

The Columbia company will get $130 million upfront from Genzyme, which is paying for the rights to sell new two Osiris drugs outside of Canada and the United States. Genzyme has developed international relationships that Osiris believes will be key in getting its two injectable therapies to health-care providers.Genzyme will also pay 40 percent of the cost of late-stage clinical trials for the drugs, giving Osiris cash it needs to continue development, company officials said.

Prochymal is in late-state clinical trials, while Chondrogen is in earlier stages. Subsequent payments are dependent on steps in the approval process of the FDA.

However, Prochymal is on a fast-track approval process with the FDA for use as a treatment for bone marrow transplant rejection and for Crohn’s disease, which is marked by intestinal inflammation. Mills said he is looking for approval in late 2009 or early 2010.

To conclude, both Prochymal and Chondrogen are derived from bone marrow cells, which are harvested from healthy adults, thereby avoiding the controversies associated with embryonic stem cell research. Chondrogen is undergoing clinical trials as a treatment for severe knee arthritis.

Source: washingtonpost.com