Closely watched Melbourne biotech Mesoblast‘s (ASX:MSB) stem cell drug candidate Ryoncil has won a “best in show” biotech award by an industry publication, days before its possible US approval.

Eight biotech leaders including three PhDs and an AstraZeneca scientist judged the Fierce Innovation Awards – Life Sciences Edition, awarded by the publisher of FierceBiotech and FiercePharma.

Ryoncil (remestemcel-L) is currently under priority review by the US Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for a complication of bone marrow transplants in children, with a ruling due this month.

“This important award is recognition of Mesoblast’s leadership as an innovator in the cell therapy industry, and of the potential for remestemcel-L to profoundly impact the lives of children suffering with steroid-refractory acute graft versus host disease (SR-aGVHD),” said Mesoblast chief executive Dr Silviu Itescu.

The anti-inflammatory drug is also being considered as a treatment for Covid-19 patients suffering acute respiratory distress syndrome by “taming the cytokine storm”.

The treatment is derived from expanded mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow of an unrelated donor.

Mesoblast is also waiting for results of Phase 3 trials for different possible stem cell treatments for advanced heart failure and lower back pain.