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Athersys Presents Research Progress In Its Multiple Sclerosis Program

CLEVELAND, Oct. 5, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today it is presenting new research results at the Second Midwest Conference on Stem Cell Biology & Therapy at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, that highlight the potential for MultiStem ®, its proprietary adult stem cell therapy, to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

The work conducted by Athersys scientists, in collaboration with Robert Miller, Ph.D. and other scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and with the support of Fast Forward, a subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, demonstrates the potential benefits of MultiStem therapy for treating MS. In standard preclinical models of MS, researchers observed that MultiStem administration results in sustained behavioral improvements, arrests the demyelination process that is central to the pathology of MS, and supports remyelination of affected axons.

"MultiStem therapy has shown promise in treating multiple disease indications in the neurological and inflammatory and immune disease areas," said Robert Mays, Ph.D., Head of Neuroscience at Athersys. "Multiple sclerosis presents as a neurological disorder, but a central component underlying the disease is immune system dysfunction. The results of our latest preclinical studies confirm that the immunomodulatory and regenerative properties of MultiStem therapy could have relevance for treatment of this disease."

In preclinical experiments, rodents were given either an intravenous injection of MultiStem cells or placebo after the onset of symptoms in an MS model. The rodents treated with MultiStem displayed sustained and statistically significant improvement in functional testing compared to placebo treated animals. This functional improvement correlated with a statistical decrease in demyelinated lesions in the nervous system of cell treated animals compared to placebo as well as increased remyelination in cell treated animals, and this result has been confirmed in a second animal model of MS, suggesting that MultiStem treatment may accelerate the process of axonal remyelination.

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