Rhode Island-based biotechnology company MultiCell Technologies Inc. is teaming up with Maxim Biotech Inc. under cooperative research and development agreement to develop products for studying liver stem cells and liver cancer.
MultiCell (OTC: MCET), based in Woonsocket, owns exclusive rights to two issued U.S. patents, one U.S. patent application and a handful of corresponding foreign patents and patent applications regarding the isolation and differentiation of liver stem cells.
No financial details of the agreement with South San Francisco-based Maxim Biotech were disclosed. The deal will initially focus on creating a family of research reagent tool kits which can be used to isolate liver stem cells and help to determine liver stem cell gene function and their encoded proteins.
According to MultiCell officials, cancer stem cells — which make up a part of any cancerous tumor — are thought to play a role in the tumor’s resistance to therapy. The role played specifically by liver stem cells in the development of liver cancer has recently led to a new theory that hepatocellular carcinoma comes from liver stem cells that stop maturing.
MultiCell officials cite the National Cancer Institute, which says in 2008 there were approximately 21,400 new cases of primary liver cancer and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in the United States, and approximately 18,400 of those cases resulted in death.
MultiCell Technologies reported a loss of $3.2 million for fiscal 2007 on revenue of $250,000.