NEWARK, Calif., April 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) today announced the addition of the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, located in Palo Alto, Calif., as a second site for the Company's Phase I/II clinical trial of its proprietary HuCNS-SC ® product candidate (purified human neural stem cells) in dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over 55 years of age, and approximately 30 million people worldwide are afflicted with the disease. Approximately 90 percent of AMD patients have the dry form of the disease and there are no approved treatments for dry AMD.
The Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, which is part of Stanford Hospital & Clinics, is dedicated to combating blindness and preserving sight. The Institute leverages the research and teaching strengths of Stanford and integrates all vision care services at Stanford into one state-of-the-art facility. Theodore Leng, MD, FACS, clinical assistant professor in ophthalmology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, is the lead investigator at the site. Stanford's Department of Ophthalmology is a nationally acclaimed leader for treatment of retinal diseases, refractive disorders, neuro-ophthalmic disorders and diseases of the vitrea.
"We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking clinical trial for macular degeneration," said Dr. Leng. "The Company's preclinical data indicates that transplanting neural stem cells to protect photoreceptors may prove to be a viable approach to this debilitating disease. That data provides a very strong rationale for this innovative cell therapy trial.""The clinical strategy with our neural stem cells is to preserve visual function before it is lost," said Stephen Huhn, MD, FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, Inc. "Our published preclinical data supports this approach in dry AMD and we hope to replicate those results in this clinical trial. We are very happy to be adding the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford and their participation is expected to accelerate patient enrollment for this trial."