NEWARK, Calif., Oct. 29, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) today announced the acquisition of a portfolio of issued US and Canadian patents to which it had previously held an exclusive worldwide license. The portfolio broadly claims the manufacture and proliferation of purified populations of human neural stem cells and their use as therapeutics and as tools for drug discovery. The acquisition relieves the Company of all milestone and royalty obligations under the license agreements for products claimed by the patents, such as products derived from the Company's proprietary HuCNS-SC® cells (purified human neural stem cells). The patents arose from the groundbreaking research of Samuel Weiss, Ph.D., and Brent Reynolds, Ph.D., while at the University of Calgary. As consideration for the portfolio, the Company will issue 139,548 shares of common stock to Neurospheres Holdings Ltd., an intellectual property holding company affiliated with the University of Calgary.
"These Weiss and Reynolds patents have been recognized time and time again as the seminal intellectual property pertaining to purified populations of human neural stem cells," said Martin McGlynn, President and Chief Executive Officer of StemCells, Inc. "The potential value of these patents continues to grow in light of the encouraging data emerging from the clinical trials of our HuCNS-SC cells, and acquiring them outright on these terms was in the best interests of our stockholders.
"Moreover, we have sued a competitor, Neuralstem, Inc., for patent infringement under six of these patents. In the litigation, four of the six patents were submitted by Neuralstem for reexamination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. All four survived reexamination and we look forward to having the opportunity to prove our case of infringement against Neuralstem in court."Key claims of the acquired patents include, among other things, cultures of neural stem cells derived from any source, including embryonic, fetal, juvenile, or adult tissue; compositions of matter, again regardless of the source of the cells and regardless of whether the cells were grown in either suspension or adherent culture or derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technologies. One of the acquired patents, U.S. Pat. No. 7,166,277, has a term extending to 2024 and claims the use of human neural stem cells to remyelinate endogenous host cells, such as to treat spinal cord injury.