Updated on 11 May 2012
During his journey as an entrepreneur, Dr Itescu faced many challenges. He says, "The challenges were the high risk associated with a novel platform technology, the uncertainties associated with early stage companies in a difficult commercial situation and the skepticism by investors that a transition of science and clinical medicine to entrepreneurial leadership could be successfully achieved."
While speaking about the growth of the company and the changing regulatory scenario, Dr Itescu says, "The current challenges for Mesoblast are in executing our late stage clinical programs, to demonstrate that we can use our resources and cash wisely to broaden our product pipeline and to successfully build an international team as part of a global biopharmaceutical company."
With the strong backing from his family, core investors, the medical community and support of a key group of executives, Mesoblast has been able to sail smoothly. Dr Itescu says, "We have also been supported by an experienced and thoughtful Director Leadership group. Obviously persistence, diligence, focus, setting priorities and goals, and retaining an executive group of people; provide the expertise and complementary skills to de-risk outcomes."
Mesoblast has unlocked significant value from its proprietary platform technology and has identified many commercial opportunities and markets. Recently, it announced outstanding clinical trial results of its stem cell product, Revascor, in patients with congestive heart failure, an application with multi-billion dollar revenue potential. The strength of its results underpinned Mesoblast's ability to successfully enter into a major strategic alliance with global biopharmaceutical company, Cephalon, in December 2010.
Dr Itescu, who is a member of the US President's Council on Bioethics and the US Food and Drug Administration's Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee on cell therapy, has guided Mesoblast's growth. The company's core strategy is based on three focus areas: products to treat cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases; intravenously-delivered products to treat a wide range of inflammatory and immune-based conditions including diabetes, lung diseases, and joint diseases; and the company's suite of orthopedic products for repair of bone and cartilage tissues. Mesoblast's deal with Cephalon is the biggest-ever global stem cell licensing deal valued at $1.7 billion.
Mesoblast's first-rate clinical results along with its strategic alliance with Cephalon, underscores its position as the world's leading stem cell and regenerative medicine company. Mesoblast now boasts of a market capitalization of approximately $1.5 billion, and has $280 million cash on hand. The firm, is increasing the numbers of its new strategic domestic and international institutional investors, and has a growing number of commercial opportunities. "We expect successful launch of our products globally within the next few years," concludes Dr Itescu.