CLEVELAND, Ohio, Nov. 4, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today that it has secured three Therapeutic Discovery Project grants as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. These grants were awarded related to Athersys' development of MultiStem ® for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), also known as heart attack, and other forms of cardiovascular disease, as well as for the treatment of multiple diseases causing acute tissue damage and chronic inflammation. MultiStem is currently being developed for the treatment of AMI, Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD) following bone marrow transplant, inflammatory bowel disease, and stroke. Additionally, one of the three awarded grants was secured to advance Athersys' pharmaceutical development program in obesity. Athersys is developing compounds that selectively stimulate the 5HT2c serotonin receptor in the brain, which is known to play an important role in regulating appetite. The Therapeutic Discovery Project grants totaled more than $730,000 in aggregate.

Athersys also announced today that it has secured a $140,000 grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to advance research and development of its novel MultiStem product platform as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease. The research funded by the grant is intended to confirm and extend previous observations regarding the efficacy of MultiStem in rodent models of Parkinson's disease, with the goal of accelerating the potential clinical application of these cells for patients who suffer from the disease.

"We are proud of the innovative work we have been conducting in these areas of true unmet medical need," said Gil Van Bokkelen, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Athersys. "These grants not only underscore the promise and potential of our MultiStem platform and our obesity program, but help Athersys advance our research and clinical development activities across several key disease areas and accelerate our ongoing efforts to develop novel, safe and effective treatments for patients suffering from these conditions. We look forward to continuing to work with our development partners and to forging research relationships with visionary foundations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to help us reach this goal."