Cardio3 BioSciences, a Belgium company working closely with Mayo Clinic, recently launched a joint venture in China, the third largest pharmaceutical market in the world.
Working with Hong Kong-based Medisun International Limited, it created Cardio3 BioSciences Asia Holdings Ltd. to make a serious push into China. As part of the deal, Medisun purchased $34 million in stock. It now owns 8 percent of the company's outstanding shares.
Cardio3 is publicly listed on the European stock markets NYSE Euronext Brussels and NYSE Euronext Paris, though it is not traded publicly in the U.S.
The company says that $34 million will finance the U.S. clinical trials for C-Cure, Cardio3's regenerative heart treatment. Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy flew to Rochester in January for a press conference at Mayo Clinic to announce that U.S. trial. Mayo Clinic in Rochester is one of the trial sites. Homsy gave a tentative time line of commercialization in Europe possibly by 2017 and by 2018 in the U.S.
Medisun has also committed to buy an additional $34 million shares of Cardio3 stock from existing shareholders in the next eight month at a price per share equivalent to the 10 days average preceding the offer.
This new deal means Medisun's ownership of Cardio3 has quickly leapfrogged Mayo Clinic's investment. As of June 16, Mayo Clinic owned 5.05 percent of the available shares of Cardio3. Medisun had just 4.21 percent at that point. As of June 25, Mayo Clinic controlled 3.1 percent of the shares.
Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar originally developed the proprietary process of regenerating heart tissue with stem cells drawn from a patient's own bone marrow. Since 2007, Cardio3 has licensed patents and related research from Mayo Clinic. Terzic and Behfar each have a financial interest in the company.
Homsy has previously stated that he hopes to eventually base a few employees in Rochester for office and laboratory work. Cardio3 previously attempted to open a U.S. headquarters here, but that fizzled when the one person based here left.
Many consider what Cardio3 is attempting as the "holy grail" of cardiac treatments. Terzic previously described repairing faulty hearts as a "major unmet need worldwide." He estimated about one-third of all deaths stem from heart disease.
To date, the promising company has raised $121 million in equity and capital.
A recent study also estimated that the global market for such treatments could grow to $18.2 billion by 2019. The U.S. market was valued at $6.1 billion in 2012, with potential to increase to $8.49 billion by 2019.
“With this presence in Greater China, we are very proud to become the first global player in the field of cardiac regenerative medicines, aiming to commercialize our leading edge cell therapy to patients all across the globe,” stated Cardio Chairman Michel Lussier in the announcement of the venture.
Medisun Chairman Danny Wong says that his company is organizing medical conventions in August "to promote cell based medicines as well as Cardio3’s technology" in both Beijing and Shanghai.
"We are passionate about this project and I am certain that our involvement with Cardio3 as a leader in this field, combined with our local knowledge of the regulatory, healthcare and market access capabilities and expertise, will bring success to all the parties involved,” said Wong.
All the costs of Cardio3's moves in China will be funded by Medisun, with a minimum of $27 million committed during a three year period. Cardio 3 has 40 percent ownership in the joint venture, which will drop to 30 percent when clinical trials are up and running.
Success of the Phase III clinical trials that allow Cardio3 to market C-Cure in Asia would trigger royalties ranging between 20 and 30 percent of net sales depending on total revenue of the joint venture.