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Cellular Dynamics Partners with iPS Academia Japan, Inc. to In-License Seminal iPS Cell Patent Portfolio
Date:5/7/2010

MADISON, Wis., May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI), the world's largest producer of cellular tools for drug discovery and safety derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and iPS Academia Japan, Inc., today announced a nonexclusive licensing agreement for the seminal iPSC patent portfolio arising out of the work of Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D., Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University. CDI is the first company worldwide licensed to access the key patents surrounding iPSC technology from the two stem cell pioneers, Dr. Yamanaka and Dr. James A. Thomson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Thomson, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of CDI, and Dr. Yamanaka concurrently published in Science and Cell, respectively, in 2007 on their breakthrough iPSC research, whereby they turned ordinary human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, with the same characteristics and potential as embryonic stem cells. Their patent portfolios are held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), UW-Madison's tech transfer vehicle, and iPS Academia Japan, which manages the intellectual property related to methods of creating iPS cells from Kyoto University, respectively. Access to both these patent portfolios, in addition to CDI's previously disclosed IP, further establishes the company as the leader in iPSC technology.  Under this business arrangement, iPS Academia Japan will receive considerations and running royalties from CDI.  Both iPS Academia Japan and CDI expect stronger business relations between the parties in the developing field of iPS cell technologies.  

CDI, who commercially launched iCell™ Cardiomyocytes, human heart cells derived from iPSCs, last December, is the only company outside of Japan that iPS Academia Japan has granted licensing to the Kyoto University  iPSC patent portfolio. iCell Cardiomyocytes are used by the pharmaceutical industry to test new drug candidates, flagging ineffective or potentially toxic drug compounds early in the drug discovery process. The company plans to release several additional cell types, including liver, neural, and blood vessel cells, in the next 12 to 18 months for drug discovery and safety research.

Chris Parker, vice president and Chief Commercial Officer of CDI, stated, "CDI is actively searching to license commercially useful iPSC technologies, and this license further strengthens our growing patent portfolio and our position in the market.  Our strong IP helps position us as a preferred collaborator and provider to pharmaceutical and biotech companies developing drug discovery and safety tools to aid the industry."

Dr. Yamanaka commented, "I am very pleased that Dr. Thomson's company, CDI, has licensed my patents.  His company is working to make the benefits of iPSC technology widely available to drug researchers worldwide, a goal I share as we work toward the improvement of human healthcare.  I would hope that this is the beginning for iPS cell technologies to be developed by many scientists and business organizations worldwide. "

"My esteemed colleague, Dr. Yamanaka, and I both are working towards the widespread availability of iPSC technology and the promise it holds for improving healthcare," said Dr. Thomson.  "Stem cells have such great potential — to find the root cause of disease, to test new drugs at the human cellular level, and to eventually impact individual healthcare. This agreement sets the stage for a partnership that will foster collaboration to move our technology forward."

Osamu Yoshida, M.D., Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of iPS Academia Japan, commented, "It is Professor Yamanaka's desire, as well as ours, to see the application of this technology be utilized broadly to benefit health and well-being of all people.  We are pleased to work with a company the caliber of Cellular Dynamics, who has already made great strides in making use of iPS cells to benefit healthcare."

Robert Palay, CDI's chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are thrilled about the license agreement with IPS Academia Japan.   We see this as a first step to further collaborations between iPS Academia Japan and Cellular Dynamics International."

About Cellular Dynamics International

Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI) is a leading developer and marketer of next-generation stem cell technologies for drug development and personalized medicine applications.  CDI harnesses the power of pluripotent stem cells and their ability to differentiate into any cell type for world-class drug development tools.  In addition, it is the leader in iPSC technology, the production of pluripotent stem cell lines from adult tissue.  CDI was founded in 2004 by James Thomson, a pioneer in human pluripotent stem cell research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Tactics II Ventures, a Wisconsin-based private equity fund.  CDI's facilities are located in Madison, Wisconsin.  See www.cellulardynamics.com.

About iPS Academia Japan, Inc.

iPS Academia Japan, Inc. (AJ) is an affiliate of Kyoto University, and its main role is, among other activities, to manage and utilize the patents and other intellectual properties held/controlled by Kyoto University and other universities in the field of iPS cell technologies so that the research results might contribute to health and welfare worldwide.  AJ was established at Kyoto on June 2008.  AJ's patents portfolio consists of approximately twenty patent families in the iPS cell technology as of April 2010. See http://ips-cell.net


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SOURCE Cellular Dynamics International, Inc.
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