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Vancouver’s Stemcell continues American biotech buying spree

Acquisition of SQZ Biotechnologies is second this year
Allen Eaves, CEO, Stemcell Technologies

Stemcell Technologies is buying an American biotech known for “game-changing” cell-squeeze technology that allows therapeutics to be introduced into cells by creating tiny, temporary holes in cell membranes.

Stemcell announced today that shareholders for Massachusetts-based SQZ Biotechnologies SQZ Biotechnologies Company (OTC:SQZB) have approved the sale.

Earlier, SQZ reported the proposed sale of its assets to Stemcell would be worth US$11.8 million ($16 million Canadian) – a price that was described as a “fire sale” by

SQZ ran into financial trouble last year, and was forced to lay off 80 per cent of its staff, after losing a major potential partnership agreement with pharmaceutical giant Roche, according to

SQZ developed a technology that allows tiny holes in cell membranes to be opened temporarily without damaging the cell, with the tiny perforations used to introduce proteins, small molecules and other therapeutic agents into the cell.

Stemcell had previously licensed SQZ’s technology to develop its own cell-squeeze technology, the CellPore Transfection System.

“With the approval of the SQZ transaction, Stemcell has acquired substantially all of SQZ’s assets including its entire portfolio of over 400 patents and trademarks, other intellectual property such as copyrights and trade secrets, proprietary equipment, and its head license with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” Stemcell said in a news release.

“This exciting acquisition means that Stemcell’s own instruments will have the potential to be used in the delivery of cell therapies to cure diseases, like cancer,” Stemcell founder and CEO Allen Eaves said in a press release.

“This transaction is an important achievement for Stemcell and a win for Canada’s economy and life sciences sector as it will support the development of innovative cell therapies.”

Stemcell’s acquisition of SQZ is the second acquisition in the last two months.

In January, Stemcell acquired Propagenix Inc., a biotech in Maryland that was focused on regenerative medicine.

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