Stem Cell Maker Cellular Dynamics Strikes Deal With Nestle

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

The market for Cellular Dynamics International’s manufactured stem cells has so far consisted mainly of large pharmaceutical companies, stem cell banks, and other life science researchers. Now Nestlé will use the cells in nutritional research.

Cellular Dynamics (NASDAQ: ICEL), based in Madison, WI, on Wednesday announced a supply agreement with the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS). Terms weren’t disclosed.

NIHS said it’s the first such deal by a packaged food company. NIHS, which started operations three years ago, claims to be the first biomedical research institute studying ways to keep people healthy and prevent or manage chronic diseases by using science-based, personalized nutritional methods.

Cellular Dynamics, co-founded by stem cell pioneer and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor James Thomson, uses induced pluripotent stem cell technology to make live human neurons, heart cells, and other cell types for research experiments. It raised $46.2 million in an initial public offering last year.

NIHS will use brain and liver cells manufactured by Cellular Dynamics to test things like how glucose is metabolized, said Cellular Dynamics CEO Bob Palay, an Xconomist.

The deal has been in the works for more than a year, after NIHS director Ed Baetge approached Cellular Dynamics, Palay said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. The agreement speaks to the “broad applicability” of Cellular Dynamics’ stem cell products, he said.

“It goes beyond pharma to all sorts of scientific opportunities, and we’re very excited about it,” Palay said.