Mesoblast scores FDA committee's backing for cell therapy despite some early worries

FDA Building 2
The FDA planned some tough question around Mesoblast's data and manufacturing for cell therapy Ryoncil. (FDA)

Cell and gene therapy makers have to contend with a laundry list of concerns on the road to approval, including a complicated manufacturing process and often, some regulatory pushback. Facing what was expected to be an FDA firing line over its cell therapy, Mesoblast is instead looking at a clear path to market.

Despite some pushback over its clinical data and manufacturing process, Mesoblast received a near-unanimous thumbs up Thursday for cell therapy Ryoncil from an FDA advisory committee. 

The committee voted 9-1 to recommend the FDA's approval of Ryoncil (remestemcel-L) in pediatric acute graft vs. host disease (GVHD), an indication with no approved therapies. The drug faces a full FDA review by Sept. 30. 

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While advisory committees' votes are non-binding, the FDA often follows its advisors' recommendations.

In a statement, Mesoblast said it was "very encouraged" by the vote and pledged to continue working with the FDA toward a full approval. 

Cantor analyst Louise Chen called the vote "clearly good news" for Mesoblast in a note to clients, and shareholders will likely agree. The drugmaker halted trading early Thursday prior to the committee's vote. 

RELATED: Mesoblast faces FDA pushback over cell therapy manufacturing, clinical data: documents