CellPro device wins backing of government panel Ceprate filters cells from cancer patients

March 25, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

ROCKVILLE -- CellPro Inc. yesterday won the backing of a panel of government advisers to expand the use of its cell filtering device to help cancer patients safely rebuild immune systems destroyed by chemotherapy.

The panel's recommendation, if accepted by the Food and Drug Administration, means the Ceprate device, used to filter and concentrate bone marrow cells taken from cancer patients, also would be approved for a less painful and cheaper technique that takes cells from the bloodstream instead.

"I'm quite convinced this potentially offers a step forward" for cancer patients, said Virginia Broudy, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a panel member.

Shares in Bothell, Wash.-based CellPro rose 50 cents to close at $3.375.

Panel members said they were convinced that the device's potential benefits outweigh any risks it poses. The panel was not asked to make a specific recommendation on whether the device should be approved for the new use in extracting immune cells from the bloodstream.

FDA approval of the bloodstream technique could boost CellPro sales, because it would allow the company to promote the less arduous technique and could help ensure reimbursement.

"This is a very important event for them in terms of broadening the market," said Richard van den Broek, an analyst with Hambrecht & Quist.

Van den Broek said CellPro's prospects still hinge on whether it wins an appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling in Delaware that it violated patents held by the Johns Hopkins University, Baxter Healthcare Corp. and Becton-Dickinson & Co.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the judge's ruling -- which awarded $7 million to the plaintiffs -- could remove CellPro's device from the market once a cell filter device is approved for one of the other companies.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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