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Increase in Blood Research Revives HemaCare

HemaCare Corp. recently released its 2016 financial results, reporting a year-over-year revenue increase of 43 percent. On March 13, the same day as the announcement, its stock shot up 81 percent to $1.82 from $1.06 on the over-the-counter market. A week and a half later, it was up 174 percent at $2.90. Shares closed March 29 at $2.50. The Van Nuys biotech, which is No. 22 on the Business Journal’s Bioscience Companies list (see page 8), specializes in isolating and providing blood cells and tissues, bone marrow and other human-derived materials to its customer companies conducting biomedical research. Chief Executive Pete van der Wal said the increase in advanced biomedical research, cellular therapies and regenerative medicine helped spur profitability. “While this research has been going on for decades, major scientific breakthroughs during the past several years have accelerated research and encouraged other companies to enter this field,” he explained. Harry Neslon, partner and biotech attorney at L.A.-based Nelson Hardiman, said he has also seen “massive growth” in biologic therapies, or treatments that utilize the body’s own immune system. “One example of a dozen therapies that became super popular around blood products is PRP, or platelet-rich plasma,” he said. “We started seeing a lot of therapies, like PRP, a decade ago and then an increase in stem cell product use for all kinds of regenerative medicine.” PRP is when a patient’s blood is drawn, enriched with platelets and then reintroduced into the body. Stem cell therapies, like bone marrow transplants, use stem cells to treat or prevent a disease by restoring cells that have been destroyed. Such treatments set the stage for HemaCare’s positive end-of-year results. “In 2016, we finally hit a critical volume of customer orders that allowed us to more than cover our overhead, thereby dropping profit to the bottom line,” van der Wal explained. “We saw strong growth from our top distributors in Europe and Japan, and further expanded our international distributor relationships into China and South Korea.” HemaCare utilizes a two-pronged sales strategy. Domestically, the company maintains a sales force, and abroad, it establishes distributor relationships. Last year, the biotech saw a 240 percent increase in international revenues, a 43 percent increase in revenue from continuing operations as well as net income from continuing operations of $781,000 versus last year’s loss of $1.4 million. Now that HemaCare is in the black, the stock is trading well above the $1 threshold required to uplist on an exchange, which could attract a broader range of investors and bring in more capital. Van der Wal did not confirm or deny if this was part of the company’s plans. “HemaCare is in the right place, at the right time, with the right skill sets that are in high demand to profit from the multi-billions of dollars biopharma and biotechnology companies are investing in the globally emerging immunotherapy, cell therapy and regenerative medicine markets,” he said.

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