Athersys Inc.’s (NSDQ:ATHX) stem cell therapy showed positive results in an early preclinical investigation of its effects in treating traumatic brain injury.
The Cleveland company’s animal-based study is the first to demonstrate that Athersys’ MultiStem adult stem call therapy could boost neurological protection. The field of neurology could represent a new avenue of commercialization for MultiStem, but years of testing will be necessary to further evaluate the therapy’s effectiveness in treating brain injuries and disorders.
Last week, Athersys signed a deal to license its technology to RTI Biologics Inc., a Florida company that makes orthopedic implants. That deal marked the first application of Athersys’ technology to the field of orthopedics.
Athersys itself is aiming to commercialize MultiStem for the treatment of heart attack patients. Some analysts have said that MultiStem could change the way people are treated for heart attacks, but Athersys has only progressed as far as Phase 1 trials, so the therapy is likely several years away from hitting the market.
MultiStem is an off-the-shelf stem cell treatment derived from the bone marrow of adults or other non-embryonic sources. The cells have a drug-like effect: They reduce inflammation, protect damaged tissue and form new blood vessels and then are cleared from the body. The company also is running clinical trials for using MultiStem to treat stroke and cancer patients.
In the brain injury study, data showed that an intravenous injection of MultiStem could potentially reduce the "neurobehavioral deficit" associated with traumatic brain injury, according to a statement from Athersys. The study was published in the October issue of Experimental Neurology.