INVESTOR INTEREST STRONG FOR STEM CELL COMPANIES

By Bradley J. Fikes U-T 12:01 a.m.Oct. 16, 2013

Good stem cell companies will get the funding they need to bring their products to market, financial and medical executives said at this years Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa.

Biotech companies continue to attract investor interest, speakers said at the meeting this week in La Jolla, pointing to a stream of biotech initial public offerings as well as purchases of biotechs by large pharmaceutical companies.

However, theres a catch: Companies may get a lower value than they seek.

The field of stem cell therapies, also known as regenerative medicine, is making the transition from pure science to clinical medicine. San Diegos Cytori Therapeutics is testing a device to harvest a patients stem cells for treating heart diseases and repairing tissue defects. And in a much-watched trial, a cure for HIV infection is being tested by Sangamo BioSciences, based in Richmond.

The challenge for stem cell companies is to convince investors that their science is actually geared toward products that can be sold, said Ted Roth, president of Newport Beach-based Roth Capital Partners. Compared with 20 years ago, investors are much more sophisticated and arent dazzled by technology, he said.

How can you convince me this is not a science project? is the question these companies need to answer, Roth said.

Those that convince investors can do very well, Roth said, citing recent examples. Stemline Therapeutics, for example, held its IPO at $10 a share in January. At the close of trading on Monday, Stemline shares closed at $36.52. Stemline is developing treatments to eliminate cancer stem cells.

On a smaller scale, Roth Capital helped Carlsbad-based International Stem Cell Corp. raise $3 million this summer, Roth said. International Stem Cell is developing a Parkinsons treatment derived from parthenogenetic, or unfertilized, human egg cells.

Roth spoke at a Monday afternoon discussion on financing. His colleague on the panel, Karl Handelsman, concurred.

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INVESTOR INTEREST STRONG FOR STEM CELL COMPANIES

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