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February 18, 2019

Morphocell Technologies signs exclusive worldwide license

Morphocell Technologies signs exclusive license for the commercialisation of innovative stem cell-derived Encapsulated Liver Tissue technology.


MONTREAL, February 18, 2019 - Morphocell Technologies Inc. (Morphocell) has negotiated a worldwide exclusive license agreement with Univalor (the technology transfer organization of Université de Montréal) for the commercialization of the stem cell-derived liver tissue technology developed by Dr. Massimiliano Paganelli at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine. The agreement focuses on bringing this innovative technology to market, in order to allow children and adults with liver disease to benefit from this first-in-class treatment.


“We are delighted to have the opportunity to commercialize this ground-breaking technology that will lead the way to revolutionizing how clinicians treat liver disease,” said Dr. Bywater Ekegärd, entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer at Morphocell. “The Company is exclusively licensing the two patents covering this novel technology platform invented by Dr. Paganelli and his team at CHU Sainte-Justine.” The Morphocell management team is currently raising funds to bring products based on Dr. Paganelli’s technology to market.


Morphocell is developing ReLiver™ ELT, an innovative regenerative medicine product that can be consistently generated from human pluripotent stem cells. “ReLiver™ shows in vitro functions comparable to primary human hepatocytes” explains Bywater Ekegard, “with the added advantages of unlimited supply, consistent and long-lasting efficacy, and capacity to withstand cryopreservation.”


“The encapsulation provides immunoisolation, eliminating the risk of rejection and providing protection against ectopic tissue or tumor formation” Dr. Paganelli continues; “Preclinical studies showed that treatment with ReLiver™ allows to effectively replace liver functions, decreasing mortality by 3 times, preventing and treating hepatic encephalopathy, and promoting liver regeneration, without the need of immunosuppression.” The product is stable over time, its liver-specific functions remaining unaltered >8 weeks, and upon cryopreservation.

One in ten people in Canada has a liver disease, and many of these diseases progress to liver failure. Currently available treatments for liver failure are inadequate, and the death rate from liver-related illnesses is on the rise. Acute liver failure (ALF) consists in a dramatic loss of liver function that exceeds the liver’s innate regenerative capacity. It occurs rapidly — days or weeks— usually in a person who has no pre-existing liver disease. ALF causes serious complications, including increasing pressure in the brain and coma. It is a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. Survival rate without transplantation is <50%. Liver transplantation, the only available treatment for ALF, is complicated by high mortality on the waiting list (>50% for infants), heavy morbidity and lifelong immunosuppression. Patients with pre-existing liver disease are also afflicted by complications of liver failure, which cause frequent hospitalizations, heavily affect the quality of life and ultimately result in more than 1 million death per year worldwide.


The Morphocell implantable therapeutic device is one-product-fits-all that is administered through a simple surgery. This technology is capable of transforming the standard of care. “Although this has still to be proved in clinical trials, we expect that timely implantation of our stem cell-derived liver tissue through a minimally invasive surgery will restore liver functions while the patient’s liver regenerates, or a suitable organ is found, reducing mortality and relieving morbidity without the need for immunosuppression.” says Dr. Paganelli, pediatric transplant hepatologist and director of the Hepatology and Cell Therapy Laboratory at CHU Sainte-Justine.


About Morphocell

Morphocell Technologies Inc. is a regenerative medicine company focused on the development and commercialization of stem cell therapies and engineered tissues targeting liver disease. Founded in April 2018, Morphocell Technologies aims at bringing to market the first effective treatment for acute, chronic and acute-on-chronic liver failure.


About Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine

Founded in 1907 the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine (CHU Sainte-Justine) is the largest mother and child centre in Canada and one of the four most important pediatric centres in North America. This university health centre is affiliated with the Université de Montréal faculty of medicine and specialises in Pediatrics and Obstetrics. Sainte-Justine officially became a university health centre in 1995 and it has, since then, welcomed around 2500 medical students each year.


About the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center

CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 200 research investigators, including over 90 clinician-scientists, as well as 500 graduate and postgraduate students focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The Center is part of CHU Sainte-Justine, which is the largest mother-child center in Canada and one of the four most important pediatric centres in North America. More on


About Univalor

Univalor is a university technology transfer organization that commercializes scientific findings and technological innovations emanating from some 2,600 researchers at the Université de Montréal and its affiliated health centres, Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal, in the areas of pure and applied sciences, engineering, information technology, management sciences, life sciences, and human health. By creating links between the university and the business community, Univalor helps make businesses more competitive, generate revenue for research and, most importantly, enrich society.


Media Contact Morphocell Technologies:


Media contact CHU Sainte-Justine:

Florence Meney, Executive advisor – External communications

CHU Sainte-Justine

Office: 514-345-7707

Cell.: 514-755-2516

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