Stem cell stocks, meaning cellular therapy biotech companies, face many challenges, but their clinical research is crucial.
These biotechs have ups and downs, sometimes at the same time. This is kind of the standard of “life” as any biotech company. It is definitely the case in the volatile stem cell and cell therapy arena. Today I’m highlighting 24 “stem cell stocks”. How has COVID impacted them? Mostly in very positive, even if likely transient ways. Which ones might be acquisition targets? What about the impact of the FDA?
Note that some of the cell therapy biotechs that I’m featuring here are not yet publicly traded, but they are particularly interesting so I’ve decided to include them. It seems likely that they may do IPOs in coming years.
We’ve also seen quite a few acquisitions of cell therapy companies in the past 2 years including Celgene and others. There have been some name changes too, making things somewhat confusing in certain cases. Then Osiris dropped to the OTC market.
COVID bounce to cell therapy & stem cell stocks
The pandemic has been awful to put it mildly, but it has been an opportunity for many cell therapy biotechs. Their stocks have zoomed in some cases as investors have been snapping them up. I guess they’re rolling the dice that some of these firms will develop safe and effective COVID treatments based on cells.
It’s a risky area as the odds are that most cell therapy companies are not going to come up with successful COVID-19 treatments. I expect some will go way back down when the biotech COVID bounce fades. But if one or a few come up with approved cell therapies for COVID-19 it’ll likely be positively transforming for them and more importantly, potentially help a lot of people.
Many are primarily working on cell therapies for other conditions as well, of course.
Cell therapy firms should be pleased with the rate at which the FDA has been approving their regenerative medicine advanced therapy (RMAT) designations.
My list stands at 49 such approvals, but more are not yet in the public domain.
RMAT designations should make it easier for firms to move forward with their clinical studies.
What are the notable stem cell stocks or biotechs out there?
Below I have a concise list of stem cell and regenerative medicine biotech companies in alphabetical order. I’ve included a snippet in some cases of what they are up to or recent news for each. I also took a look at their share price changes over the last 12 months too.
In addition, where possible I’ve included a link to the company site and also links to past posts about the firm on The Niche.
Obviously, these are just biotechs that have gotten my notice, but there are more out there in this sector. Don’t see your favorite on the list? Weigh in with yours in the comments. Are you a fan of Brainstorm, Celularity or one of many others not mentioned below?
Note that some huge companies such as Astellas have substantial stem cell programs, but aren’t cell medicine focused overall so they aren’t listed. Other companies are more focused on gene therapy/gene editing rather than actual cell or stem cell therapies so not all of those have been included.
List of cell therapy biotechs
- Athersys (ATHX). Its MultiStem product seems to have a number of promising uses. The stock is up between 2-3-fold, mostly related to a COVID bounce I think. Past posts.
- Bluebird Bio (BLUE). Focus on genetic diseases and cancer. Stock is down dramatically in the past year including on the terrible news of 2 trial participants getting cancer. Past posts.
- Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics (BCLI). Neurodegenerative disorders. Known especially for NurOwn product. Making a COVID play like many others. Stock was way up but now is down for the past year. Update: In late February 2021, the FDA recommended the firm not seek approval for NurOwn for ALS.
- Caladrius (CLBS). Cardiovascular disease focus, but also COVID now. About even for the year. Developing a CD34+ cell therapy for angina. Past posts.
- Capricor (CAPR). Developing CAP1002 for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. COVID-19 at play now. Stock is up about 5-fold in 12 months. Past posts. I’ve had some concerns about this firm over the years mainly from a scientific rationale point of view.
- Cellerant Therapeutics, Inc (privately held). Cancer and blood disorders.Romyelocel-L to Prevent Infections During Neutropenia.
- Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG). Cancer and degenerative diseases. Up a little for the year.
- Cryo-Cell (CCEL). Cord blood banking firm. Up a bit. Past posts. Note that I’m more of a supporter of public cord blood banks.
- Cynata (CYYNF). Diverse, interesting pipeline. Up a bit for the past 12 months. It’s making a push on the COVID front too. Past posts.
- Fate Therapeutics (FATE). Cancer and immune disorders. Up about 2 fold. Acquisition target? Past posts. See a video of a talk above from Fate CEO Dan Shoemaker above on their status.
- Humacyte (privately held). Vascular innovation is their key phrase. They are focused on vascular access for hemodialysis. Past posts.
- jCyte (privately held). They are focused on retinitis pigmentosa. Past posts.
- Kiadis Pharma (KIADF). ATIR101, blood disorders. Stock up a bunch. It’s being acquired by Sanofi and here’s more from where that acquisition stands.
- Lineage Cell Therapeutics (LCTX). It’s got some notable work far into the trial process. Stock has more than doubled in the past year. This was BioTime but now with a new name. Past posts.
- Magenta Therapeutics (MGTA). Cell and gene therapy for immune reset. A little down for the past year in PPS. Past posts.
- Mesoblast (MESO). Its mesenchymal precursor cell therapy hasn’t been that encouraging on the COVID front but there’s hope for the firm regarding a treatment for heart disease. Stock was up a lot on the COVID bounce, but is now just up a bit. Past posts.
- Pluristem (PSTI). The stock is up about 40%. Diverse pipeline and some work on COVID in the past year. Past posts.
- Plus Therapeutics (PSTV) Formerly Cytori. It has several cancer therapies in the pipeline. Solid year, up maybe 50%. It’s been very volatile in the past few weeks. Past posts.
- Regeneron (REGN). Up just slightly. Diverse areas of clinical interest. Made big news in 2020 when Trump used their experimental antibody cocktail therapy as being diagnosed with COVID-19. Past posts.
- Sangamo (SGMO). Gene and cell therapy intersect. Up solidly but trending down recently. Another acquisition target I think. Past posts.
- Seneca Biopharma (SNCA). It was formerly Neuralstem. Almost double for the year. Past posts.
- Thermogenesis (THMO). They have cell and gene therapy focuses. Formerly Cesca. Got an early COVID bump, but now down a bit.
- Vericel (VCEL). It is focused on skin (burn) and orthopedic/cartilage repair via autologous therapies for sports medicine. Up more than 2-fold. Formerly Aastrom Bio.
- ViaCyte (privately held). Progress continues on their diabetes trial. Past posts. I expect an IPO or acquisition in the next few years.
I expect if we revisit these same 24 firms in 2 years, I bet at least 3-4 will have been acquired or will have new names.
Of the ones now working on COVID, how many will have a promising COVID treatment on the way to FDA approval or similar approvals abroad? Maybe one? As mentioned earlier, the core pipelines of most of these are not COVID-related.
Disclaimer: This post is not investment advice and this sector is very risky and volatile. I have no financial stakes in these companies. If that changes, I’ll post about it.