Interview With The President And CEO: BioLife Solutions, Inc. (BLFS) - Michael Rice
May 1, 2012 - The Wall Street Transcript has just published Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Report offering a timely review of the sector. This Special Report contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs, Equity Analysts and Money Managers. Please find an excerpt below.
Michael Rice became President and Chief Executive Officer and a Member of the board of directors of BioLife Solutions, Inc., in August 2006, and Chairman in August 2007. He has more than 20 years of leadership and entrepreneurial experience in the medical and high-tech industries. Mr. Rice was most recently the Senior Business Development Manager for medical and wireless products at AMI Semiconductor. He also served as the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Cardiac Science, Inc., a manufacturer of automated external defibrillators. Before that, he was the Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for Tegris Corporation, a privately held network services provider. Mr. Rice also spent 12 years at Physio Control Corporation in several sales and marketing management roles before its acquisition by Medtronic Inc.
TWST: Please start with an overview of BioLife Solutions, including the company's history, products, services and customers.
Mr. Rice: BioLife Solutions (BLFS) is a life sciences tools company. We develop and manufacture GMP, clinical-grade liquid biopreservation media products for cells and tissues in applications ranging from traditional bone-marrow stem-cell transplants to the banking of newborn umbilical cord blood. Hypothermic storage or freezing is used to reduce metabolism of precious biologic source material, such as cells and tissues, once they are removed from the body. And this field of regenerative medicine is focused on using these cells and tissues to treat a broad array of diseases and disorders. So our flagship products include HypoThermosol, a storage-shipping medium, and also CryoStor, a related cryopreservation-freeze medium. Our proprietary products are considered best in class and used throughout the world by hundreds of customers in the biobanking, regenerative medicine and drug discovery markets. Some key customers include, Life Technologies, Athersys, Cellular Dynamics, and Sigma-Aldrich. Our products have demonstrated remarkable ability to greatly extend the shelf life and postpreservation viability, recovery and function of a wide range of cell and tissue types.
The company was founded in 1998 as a subsidiary of a medical device company and became public in 2002, when the parent company sold off some assets and ceased operations. Our early research identified specific molecular stress pathways that are activated when cells and tissues are subjected to the hypothermic conditions used in preservation. These discoveries enabled the formulation of optimized preservation media with components that prevent or mitigate damage to cells and tissues caused by exposure to hypothermia and the return to body temperature. For a few years, BioLife was based in upstate New York. I joined the company in mid-2006, and moved the business to the Seattle area in 2007. Since that time, we've seen our products adopted much more broadly in our strategic markets and have built a very solid customer base and revenue base.
Our mission is to become the leading provider of biopreservation media products for research and clinical applications, and we're quite pleased to see HypoThermosol and CryoStor incorporated into the manufacturing and patient-delivery processes of numerous new clinical trial-stage cell- and tissue-based products and therapies. We've also developed a very solid contract manufacturing business, where we perform aseptic media formulation, fill and finish services for a growing customer list. For example, one new customer we gained at the end of 2011 could generate 1 million to 2 million in revenue this year alone, and we recently announced the construction of a second clean-room manufacturing suite and expansion of our corporate offices. Speaking of competition, the landscape is populated by a few very large companies that also offer preformulated biopreservation media products. However, these products are based on traditional nonoptimized formulas and do not provide nearly the level of biopreservation efficacy as our own engineered formulations.
TWST: Would you please explain in layman's terms the science behind biopreservation media?
Mr. Rice: When cells and tissues are removed from the body, whether its whole blood, umbilical cord blood following the birth or bone marrow from which stems cells are extracted, and then subsequently, given to a cancer patient, once these precious biologic materials are removed from the body and it's very warm, nutrient-rich environment, degradation starts to begin almost immediately, and so biopreservation involves subjecting these precious biologic sources to cold temperatures to reduce metabolism. And they're typically bathed in or stored in a liquid media that has some components that are engineered to reduce the damage that can occur from exposure to hypothermia once removed from the body. So the innovations at BioLife are really all about recognizing some very specific mechanisms of cell death that occur from exposure to hypothermia, and then, reformulating the preservation media that the cells are stored in or frozen in to specifically address these cell-stress pathways and prevent the damage from occurring in the first place.
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