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LCT eyes 'medical tourism'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/08/2016 Fiona Rotherham

Australasian biotech company Living Cell Technologies plans to treat patients for Parkinson's disease under a "medical tourism" model if its clinical trial under way in Auckland succeeds next year.

A clinical trial of 18 patients is underway at the University of Auckland and Mercy Hospital on its regenerative cell therapy NTCELL, which would be the world's first disease-modifying treatment for Parkinson's.

Results are expected mid-next year.

Living Cell chief executive Ken Taylor says if the second trial proves successful, the company will apply to speed up approval to treat paying patients in New Zealand, including patients brought in from other countries.

The next step on from medical tourism under its business strategy is scaling up the manufacturing process, developing NTCELL for other central nervous system diseases such as Huntington's and Alzheimer's, and expanding its use worldwide.

Living Cells' operations are based in New Zealand and it's listed on the ASX and US stock exchanges.

It reported a narrowed annual loss this week of A$3 million ($NZ3.1m) for the year ended June 30 from $A7m the prior year.

It was founded in New Zealand in 1999 to develop a regenerative cell therapy that involves transplanting cells from Auckland Island pigs into humans. The initial target was type 1 diabetes, which is now being pursued by its joint venture company, Diatranz Otsuka .

Living Cell's smaller loss was mainly due to a markedly reduced share of joint venture losses as the carrying value of the investment has been reduced to zero.

It still has plenty of cash in hand - $A5.3m compared to $A5.1m the year before, following a $A3.7m fund-raising through private placements and a share purchase plan, partially offset by clinical trial and operating costs.

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