Bioheart falters after missing a loan payment

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Bioheart, a biotechnology company focused on cell therapies for the treatment of chronic and acute heart damage, has warned that it might have to lay off employees, file for bankruptcy or close down after it missed a loan payment, according to a Jan. 15 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

The Sunrise, Fla.-based company said it missed an $180,000 payment to BlueCrest Venture Finance Master Fund on Jan. 2. After borrowing $5 million from BlueCrest in 2007, Bioheart still owes $2.94 million.

“The company does not currently have the necessary cash resources to make the delinquent payment,” the company reported.

Bioheart CEO Howard Leonhardt told the Miami Herald that the company had received an extra 90 days to make the payment from its lender, BlueCrest Venture Finance Master Fund, in exchange for a $500,000 personal guarantee from Leonhardt. The deal, however, has not been signed.

“The last 24 months in a row we've paid on time and it was an unforeseen event,” Leonhardt told the Herald. “We're not thinking of bankruptcy at all; it's not even close to consideration—maybe laying off employees.”

Last week, the company temporarily cut the work week to four days for its 30 employees.

The missed payment and plea for cash follow a spate of recent departures of board members and executives from the biotech firm whose core technology, MyoCell, uses adult stem cells from muscles to help regenerate? damaged heart tissue, according to the Herald.

Bioheart, which went public in February 2008, began distributing an at-home heart failure monitor in July 2008.