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Novartis in Regenerex Stem Cell Deal to Ease Kidney Transplants

Novartis AG entered a collaboration with Regenerex LLC, gaining access to stem cell technology that may help kidney transplant patients avoid taking anti-rejection medicine for life.

Regenerex, a startup biology company based in Louisville, Kentucky, and Novartis have entered an exclusive global licensing deal and will work together on research, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in an e-mailed statement today.

Regenerex’s technology allowed five of eight kidney transplant patients to stop taking about a dozen pills a day to suppress their immune systems, according to research published last year. The pills, which prevent rejection and stop tissue from a donated kidney from attacking the patient, can damage the transplant and cause diabetes, infections, heart disease and cancer.

“With the global licensing agreement with Regenerex, Novartis gains access to stem cell technology, which can be used in the areas of cancer and transplantation,” Andrew Weiss, an analyst with Bank Vontobel AG in Zurich, said in a note to clients today. “Novartis gains further expertise in this area.”

The technology may also be used in a number of inherited metabolic diseases with high unmet need such as sickle cell disease or metachromatic leukodystrophy.

Last year, Novartis agreed to fund a $20 million research center at the University of Pennsylvania in a deal to gain technology that uses manipulated immune-system cells to fight cancer.

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