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Cleveland biopharmaceutical company Athersys teams with Pfizer unit to develop therapy — MedCity Weekend Rounds, Dec. 26, 2009

Cleveland biopharmaceutical company Athersys Inc. teamed with Pfizer Regenerative Medicine this week to work on an adult stem cell therapy to treat inflammatory bowel disease. The development and commercialization agreement could mean up to $111 million in revenue for Athersys, which has been searching for development partners.

Here are five of the top stories at MedCity News this week:

     ♦   Cleveland, Ohio, biopharmaceutical company Athersys Inc. is in line for up to $111 million in revenue through an agreement with a Pfizer Inc. unit  to develop and market a stem cell therapy for patients who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. The agreement with Pfizer Regenerative Medicine validates MultiStem, the off-the-shelf stem cell therapy by Athersys. It’s also a shot in the arm for the company that has been searching for development partners.

     ♦   Athersys is a good fit for Pfizer Regenerative Medicine, both culturally and scientifically, said Ruth McKernan, chief scientific officer for the Pfizer unit. Pfizer was looking to partner with an adult stem cell company — rather than buy one — because it’s not sure yet which technology will win in the marketplace.

     ♦   G. Steven Burrill, the CEO and founder of San Francisco venture capital firm Burrill & Co. has been trying to raise a $1 billion fund to back Elk Run, an ambitious bioscience incubator located outside of Rochester in rural Southeastern Minnesota. Sources say he’s nowhere near $1 billion. Depending on whom you ask, Burrill has secured anywhere from zero dollars to $250 million.

     ♦   In executive changes… SpineMatrix Inc., the in Copley Township, Ohio, developer of a device that diagnoses the source of lower back pain in a unique way, has hired medical device industry veteran William “Bill” Christy as its chief executive officer… University Hospitals in Cleveland will fill its newly created president of UH Community Hospitals and Ambulatory Networks spot with Richard A. Hanson on Jan. 15… Fairview Hospital President Janice Murphy has been named to the additional post of president of Lakewood Hospital, effective Jan. 1. Both hospitals are owned by the Cleveland Clinic…

     ♦   In financial news… Indianapolis pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. has inked a $90 million deal with a Delaware drug-maker to commercialize and develop an anti-arthritis compound… University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio received a $5 million donation from the family of a former long-time Sherwin-Williams chief executive… Thar Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pa., has raised $1.2 million in debt financing to commercialize drugs based on supercritical fluid technologies, according to a regulatory filing… Armed with a $100,000 grant from Lorain County Community College’s Innovation Fund, ReQuisite Biomedical, a Lino Lakes, Minn., start-up developing a novel coating for balloons and stents, is looking to establish a beachhead in Northeast Ohio…