Niklas Prager appointed new CEO of SmartCella

SmartCella Holding AB today announces that Niklas Prager has been appointed as the new CEO. SmartCella is an innovative biotechnology company that combines targeted delivery of medical substances to organs and tumors through a unique device, and the development of future stemcell and RNA-based treatments and methods for administering such treatments.

Niklas Prager has extensive and solid experience from the global pharma industry and has held leadership positions in research-focused pharmaceutical companies such as Merck/MSD and Pfizer, with both Sweden and the USA as a base. He has also been CEO and board member/chairperson of several medtech and biotech companies such as Medivir AB and CellaVision AB, and has experience with different types of ownership, from listed to private and private equity. Niklas is 52 years old and holds a Master of Science in Business Administration from the Stockholm School of Economics and has also studied in the MBA program at the University of Michigan.

“Niklas has a perfect background for SmartCella. He has experience from the global pharma industry and has also led projects that fundamentally transformed pharmaceutical companies through creative ideas and great determination. With Niklas as CEO, we intend to accelerate our expansion, and this will mark the beginning of SmartCella’s next era. The fact that Niklas has had so many different roles in his career, both operational and as an advisor, is a fantastic asset for us given all the different stakeholders the company has within both big pharma, medtech, biotech, and throughout the entire research field. He will be an inspiring leader of a competent team of employees from over 22 countries,” says Christian Kinch, Chairperson of SmartCella Holding AB.

Christian Kinch continues, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Johan Rugfelt, who has been acting CEO since March 2022 and navigated the business over a period of strong growth and transformation – under his leadership, the organization has developed competence-wise and grown from 20 to almost 60 employees. Johan has also ensured that we have a stable financial base, relevant for our future expansion plans. He will return to the role of COO and continue as a member of the management team, and I look forward to a continued productive collaboration with Johan.”

SmartCella was founded in 2014 and today consists of three areas. SmartWise with the patented device Extroducer, which in a unique way delivers substances directly to organs via the endovascular route (invented by Staffan Holmin, Professor of Clinical Neuroimaging at Karolinska Institutet). The device is FDA-approved and clinical studies with various treatments in humans are planned to begin in 2023. SmartCella Solutions conducts research focused on developing new RNA-based treatments and methods for their delivery. Procella established a collaboration with AstraZeneca in 2018 to develop a cardiac stem cell therapy to repair parts of the heart that have been damaged after a heart attack. Other types of stem cell-based therapies are also under development.

“SmartCella is a truly unique company. Its strength lies in the combination of a commercializable medical device for the delivery of targeted treatments to organs and tumors where the medical need is enormous, and world-leading cell and gene therapy with both treatments and new methods for the administration of such treatments, where the agreement with AstraZeneca validates the technology. Sweden once again has a company at the forefront of the booming niche of global drug research. The potential to radically change the treatment of serious illnesses is staggering, and I cannot imagine a better opportunity to be a part of and influence the future for seriously ill patients. I look forward to taking over the baton and embarking on the next step in SmartCella’s development together with the board, management, and staff. Both the company and the board have an impressive mix of medical and entrepreneurial expertise with a strong track record, and I am confident in what SmartCella can achieve,” says Niklas Prager. Niklas will assume the role of CEO during the summer of 2023.

SmartCellas management team consists of, in addition to the CEO, of Johan Rugfelt (COO), Malin af Petersens (CFO), Staffan Holmin (CMO, MD and PhD), Jonathan Clarke (Head of Procella, MD) and Kylie Foo (Head of SmartCella Solutions, PhD).


Nina Nornholm, Communications & PR, +46 708 550 356

About SmartCella Holding AB
SmartCella is an innovative biotechnology company based in Stockholm, Sweden. SmartCella’s therapeutic mission is to develop treatments for patients running out of options. The company has three main business units, Smartwise, SmartCella Solutions and Procella. 

Smartwise is developing and manufacturing a novel endovascular device, the Extroducer, which is designed to deliver advanced therapies directly into hard-to-reach areas of the body, such as the abdominal organs, the heart, and the brain. There is a significant unmet need in the field of directing different types of therapies including cells, drugs, and RNA for regeneration of tissue and for treatment of cancer tumors. Smartwise received regulatory approval from the US FDA for the Extroducer in June 2022.

SmartCella Solutions
SmartCella Solutions is focusing on new RNA technologies to reduce the need for immune suppression after cell- and organ transplantation and new ways of delivering RNA therapy to solid organs (e.g., cell mediated delivery).  

In collaboration with AstraZeneca, Procella is developing new cardiac progenitor cell therapy to repair parts of the heart that have been damaged by a heart attack. For patients who have suffered a heart attack, a large number of heart cells die, which causes heart failure and significant mortality and morbidity. With cardiac progenitor cells Procella is developing a new way to regenerate those parts of the heart that have been damaged by a heart attack. Procella is collaborating with AstraZeneca to take our first cellular product candidate from pre-clinical stage to first-in-human studies and, if successful in early trials, further development towards commercial manufacture. Leveraging our infrastructure of labs and cleanrooms as well as our knowledge in development, regulatory, quality assurance and manufacturing of cell therapies we intend to expand beyond the initial cardiac st em cell therapy.