Late in 2015, one of the pioneering stem cell plus regenerative medicine biotechs, Ocata Therapeutics (fka as ACTION or Advanced Cell Technology) was acquired  by Astellas Pharma. At the time of purchase, Ocata had a number of areas of concentrate, but was most closely followed for its development of human wanting stem cell-based retinal pigmented epithelial cells (RPEs) pertaining to treatment of multiple kinds of macular degeneration. These products were evolving in promising clinical trials and had demonstrated good  basic safety profiles.

After the purchase of Ocata simply by Astellas, many in the field wondered what impact this growth might have on these clinical trials. Could the additional assets within the Astellas environment give a big boost to the previous Ocata work? Some on the other hand worried that within the large Astellas, these stem cell pipelines might get a bit dropped, especially if Ocata leader Dr . Robert Lanza ended up making Astellas.

So what’ s the details on all of this now?

The Ocata work is very much in existence and well, and Bob Lanza is still at Astellas (see above tweet from December of last year). He  is  Head of Astellas Global Regenerative Medication & Chief Scientific Officer, Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine. I reached out to him  to ask for an upgrade on how things are going with the regenerative medicine  efforts  on Astellas.

Dr . Lanza was able to share this particular comment, “ ASP7317 for Dry AMD is currently within Phase 2 studies, while the Stargardt study is in Stage 1/2a. It would preliminary to comment on timing for research expansion and next steps. ”

I know that’ s not a ton of information, but it is a bit encouraging a minimum of. Also from emailing with him, I’ m wishing in coming months to have an interview with Dr . Lanza with more detail.

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