Pervasis in “Advanced” Talks with Potential Partners for Blood-Vessel Healing Product, CEO Says

2/1/11

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improvement in the function of patients’ AV graft access points, created when a vein and artery are surgically connected with a plastic tube, compared with 25-percent improvement in patients who got a placebo. Yet the design of the Phase III trial calls for replicating such results in a much lager pool of patients who are undergoing the graft procedures—about 390 of them.

When that Phase III trial begins presumably hinges largely on the closing of a hoped-for partnership deal to finance it. Yet Chereau declined to provide any details about when such a deal might close.

In the meantime, Pervasis is working on a Phase I/II study of a cell-based therapy that uses the same underlying technology in Vascugel. But it is designed for a different purpose: to prevent clotting of the femoral artery after procedures to remove blockages and implant stents to prop open the blood vessel, according to the company.

Over the past two years or so, Chereau said, the company has also been working on other applications of its technology in fields outside of vascular repair. The two top new areas of interest include cancer treatment and orthopedics.

Last month, for instance, the company announced that it has licensed technology for potential cell-based cancer treatments from MIT. Elazer Edelman, a scientific co-founder of Pervasis and a professor at MIT and Harvard Medical School, developed the recently licensed technology along with MIT grad student Joseph Franses.

Edelman and Franses have found in lab tests that cells from the inside lining of blood vessels—the same types of cells that Pervasis uses to heal vascular tissue—play a key role in preventing cancer growth and the development of blood vessels that feed tumors, according to the company. Their work was published last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Pervasis says it wants to develop a cell-based therapy that could be implanted during surgeries that are done to remove cancerous tissue. Preclinical studies have shown that such a the treatment has the potential to benefit patients with brain, breast, lung, and prostate tumors.

Chereau said that it is too soon to say what impact a potential partnership deal for Vascugel would have on his small firm’s ability to fund development of cancer therapies. In addition to partnership funding, he’s open to raising additional venture capital. Clearly, the company is hunting for ways to finance its programs. The CEO declined to say how much cash the firm has left to fund its activities, yet he noted that his investors were excited about the company and willing to invest more into it.

“With a company at this size,” Chereau says, “I think you have to go step by step.”

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