PALO ALTO, Calif., March 14, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) announced today the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial of its proprietary HuCNS-SC ® human neural stem cells in chronic spinal cord injury. This trial is now open for enrollment, and will accrue patients with both complete and incomplete degrees of paralysis who are three to 12 months post-injury. The trial is being conducted in Switzerland at the Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, a world leading medical center for spinal cord injury and rehabilitation, and is being led by Armin Curt, MD, Professor and Chairman, Spinal Cord Injury Center at the University of Zurich, and Medical Director of the Paraplegic Center at the Balgrist University Hospital. Dr. Curt stated, "The launch of this trial is truly a landmark event for the field of spinal cord injury research. For patients facing a lifetime of paralysis, the prospect that neural stem cell transplantation may one day help restore some degree of function offers new hope. What is particularly exciting to me is the innovative design of this trial. Within the setting of one trial, we will progress from the most severely injured to less severely injured. In addition to our primary focus on assessing safety, the design of the trial will afford a very real near-term opportunity to observe possible benefits to the patient, which may include improved sensation, motor function, bowel or bladder function. I am extremely pleased to be involved in a study that is breaking barriers in the search for a treatment that could lead to improved quality of life for injured patients." Stephen Huhn, MD, FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, Inc., added, "Dr. Curt is an internationally renowned expert in spinal cord injury, and we look forward to working with him and his team of experienced investigators at Balgrist. Our HuCNS-SC cells have shown significant promise in preclinical studies for restoring lost motor function, and we are excited to take this important first step toward our goal of developing a neural stem cell therapy that could offer similar benefits for patients living with paralysis. We plan to enroll the first cohort of patients with complete injury this year, and will then transition to patients with incomplete injuries early next year."