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Living Cell Technologies to hold board strategy meeting

Living Cell Technologies to hold board strategy meeting in December

By Rebecca Howard

Nov. 15 (BusinessDesk) - Living Cell Technologies will continue to evaluate data from its recent clinical trial before holding a board strategy meeting in December, chief executive Ken Taylor told shareholders at the annual general meeting.

Earlier this week, the ASX-listed Kiwi biotech firm saw its market capitalisation tumbled to A$20 million from about A$160 million when it said its latest trial didn't show a "statistically significant difference" between people who received its treatment for Parkinson's disease and a control group, something one shareholder said was a "colossal amount." It had been hoping the trial would allow it to apply for provisional consent and launch its NTCELL treatment for Parkinson's in 2018.

Taylor said one-year data will be available by December from previous trial groups and the research team will also be comparing individual patient data from the latest trial, in particular as the study did show significant variation between individual patients.

"Now you pause, and you dive back into the data," Dr. Barry Snow, the principal investigator told shareholders. Both Snow and Taylor underscored they were very disappointed with the result from the trial.

Living Cell developed the NTCELL treatment for Parkinson’s disease using choroid plexus brain cells from neonatal pigs, which are implanted into a damaged site in the brain and then function as a “neurochemical factory” producing factors that promote new central nervous system growth and repair disease-induced nerve degeneration.

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Taylor said the company would also be looking at new projects, including cell-based products for things like retinal degeneration and chronic hearing loss. Taylor said progress has been made with potential partners on that work. Finally, work will continue on products aimed at reversing neurodegenerative processes, after the company filed a provisional patent after research with the Centre for Brain Research at Auckland University last week.

Taylor said the company will focus on all three in order to determine the best strategy to reach a "fundable milestone." He underscored, however, it would not be returning to shareholders for additional funds but would use its available cash to get to that point.

According to Taylor, it has around A$6 million, including its 20 percent rebate on research spend from Callaghan Innovation.

The shares last traded at 3.5 Australian cents, up 13 percent on the day.


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