Cardiff-based biotech company Cell Therapies Limited (CTL) has entered into a new joint-venture agreement with a Chinese company.
CTL is developing stem-cell therapies at its laboratories to combat life-threatening and serious life-altering illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
It has signed a joint-venture agreement with Chinese firm Zhongyuan Union Stem Cell Bio-engineering Corporation (Union).
The new deal will see CTL establishing the joint venture with Union in multiple cities across China and developing large operational hubs near Shanghai and Beijing, with CTL holding nearly half of the shares in the new company.
It will also give the firm half of the revenues generated by the joint venture in China and first option to all of Union’s products outside China.
It could also see the creation of new jobs in Wales to support the new venture and to continue CTL’s commercialisation activity across Europe and America.
CTL was founded in Cardiff in 2009 by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Martin Evans and executive director Ajan Reginald.
Mr Reginald said: “CTL was founded to develop life-saving and life-changing medicines.
“This partnership is very focused and enables CTL to accelerate development of treatments for heart disease and diabetes while accessing the growing China market.
“We thank and congratulate our small but talented team and generous supporters – this partnership recognises their exceptional work and dedication.”
The joint-venture agreement was signed by Sir Martin in Tianjin.
Stem-cell therapy is at the cutting edge of cardiovascular treatment, offering the potential to repair heart tissue immediately after a heart attack or heart failure.
The stem-cell market is forecast to triple from £13bn to £40bn by 2015 and CTL hopes its work will enable Wales to tap into this fast-growing hi-tech market and create hundreds of jobs.
Union is a domestic life science and technology enterprise. Li Defu, chairman of its parent company Tianjin Vcanland Group, said the two companies would push forward the development of China’s stem-cell industry.
Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan joined the board of CTL earlier this year.
It is hoping for off-shelf stem-cell medicine for heart failure to be on the market by 2016. It said it does not envisage any need for additional funding.
Moreover, the Welsh life sciences sector was boosted earlier this week when it was confirmed that a world leader in the development of cell-stem regenerative therapies, ReNeuron, is to relocate to Wales.
It will be up to two years before the Surrey-based business is fully operational in South Wales, with a view to being in a commercial product manufacturing position by 2016.
The Welsh Government now has around a 10% stake in the pre-revenue and loss-making Aim-listed business after its Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund, which is managed on a discretionary basis by Arthurian Life Sciences, invested £5m as part of a £25.3m rights issue.
Moreover, the Welsh Government has also committed grant funding of more than £7m to support ReNeuron’s planned expansion in South Wales – where a number of sites for its laboratory and manufacturing facilities are being considered, including north of Cardiff, Bridgend and Swansea.
ReNeuron will have a head office in Cardiff.
Some 25 staff will recruit to South Wales, where it will recruit up to a further 50 staff.