Athersys Announces FDA Authorization of Phase II Clinical Trial for Inflammatory Bowel Disease With Pfizer Regenerative Medicine

Athersys Announces FDA Authorization of Phase II Clinical Trial for Inflammatory Bowel Disease With Pfizer Regenerative Medicine
Advancement of MultiStem Stem Cell Therapy Into Ulcerative Colitis Clinical Safety and Efficacy Study in First Year of Alliance 

CLEVELAND, Nov 8, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Athersys, Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!athx/quotes/nls/athx (ATHX 2.93, +0.17, +6.16%) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized commencement of a Phase II clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of administration of MultiStem(R), Athersys' allogeneic investigational cell therapy product, for the potential treatment of ulcerative colitis. This Phase II clinical trial is expected to begin enrolling patients before the end of 2010 and is part of a collaboration between Athersys and Pfizer that the companies formed in December 2009 to develop MultiStem for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The Phase II study will be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center study to investigate the safety and efficacy of MultiStem in subjects with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. The trial is designed to include approximately 126 patients. Patients participating in the study will receive multiple doses of either MultiStem or placebo, administered over eight weeks. Clinical efficacy endpoints will be examined through week 16 with follow-up of patients for 12 months. The study will be conducted at clinical centers in North America and Europe.

This is the fourth clinical study of MultiStem authorized by the FDA and the first in the autoimmune disease area. "This announcement demonstrates exciting progress, achieved within a year of launching the collaboration, and reflects the tremendous effort on the part of the teams at both organizations that are working together to advance this program in a focused and efficient manner," said Gil Van Bokkelen, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Athersys.

"This is a very exciting day as we celebrate this milestone achieved with our collaborator Athersys," said Ruth McKernan, Senior Vice President and Pfizer Regenerative Medicine Chief Scientific Officer. "The speed at which this has occurred is an indicator of the depth of the collaboration between the Pfizer Regenerative Medicine and Athersys teams. We look forward to continuing to work together on this program."

About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

According to Datamonitor, more than 2 million individuals in the United States, core European markets and Japan suffer from various forms of IBD, including Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), which is the most commonly diagnosed form of IBD. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory condition involving all or a portion of the colon. Patients with UC most commonly present with diarrhea, urgency, rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain. Patients may also experience fatigue, fevers, weight loss, and dehydration. The symptoms can be incapacitating.

About MultiStem

MultiStem is a patented and proprietary product consisting of a clinical grade preparation of non-embryonic stem cells obtained from bone marrow that have the potential to produce a range of factors and form multiple cell types. MultiStem appears to work through several mechanisms, but a primary mechanism appears to be the production of therapeutic proteins and other molecules produced in response to inflammation and tissue damage. Athersys believes that MultiStem represents a unique "off-the-shelf" stem cell product based on its apparent ability to be used without tissue matching or immunosuppression and its capacity for large scale production.

About Athersys

Athersys is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutic product candidates designed to extend and enhance the quality of human life. The Company is developing MultiStem(R), a patented, adult-derived "off-the-shelf" stem cell product platform for multiple disease indications, including damage caused by myocardial infarction, bone marrow transplantation and oncology treatment support, ischemic stroke, and inflammatory bowel disease. The Company is also developing a portfolio of other therapeutic programs, including orally active pharmaceutical product candidates for the treatment of metabolic and central nervous system disorders, utilizing proprietary technologies, including Random Activation of Gene Expression (RAGE(R)). Athersys has forged several key strategic alliances and collaborations with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as world-renowned research institutions in the United States and Europe to further develop its platform and products. More information is available at