NEWARK, Calif., Sept. 6, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) today announced that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved an award to the Company for up to $20 million under CIRM's Disease Team Therapy Development Award program (RFA 10-05). The award is to fund preclinical development of StemCells' proprietary HuCNS-SC® product candidate (purified human neural stem cells) in Alzheimer's disease over a maximum four-year period, with the goal of filing an investigational new drug (IND) application for a clinical trial in that time. In July, CIRM approved a separate award to the Company under RFA 10-05 for up to $20 million to fund preclinical development of HuCNS-SC cells in cervical spinal cord injury. "With the recent spate of late-stage clinical failures in Alzheimer's disease, it is clear that the field could benefit from alternative approaches to lessen the huge burden on families, caregivers and our healthcare system," commented Martin McGlynn, President and CEO of StemCells, Inc. "Our recently reported preclinical data, which showed that our neural stem cells restored memory and enhanced synaptic function in two animal models relevant to Alzheimer's disease, shows our approach has promise. We greatly appreciate the support from CIRM, which should help us accelerate our efforts to test our HuCNS-SC cells in Alzheimer's disease." StemCells will evaluate its HuCNS-SC cells as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease in collaboration with Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., a world-renowned researcher in the field. Dr. LaFerla is Director of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), and Chancellor's Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences at UCI. Mr. McGlynn added, "CIRM's approval of two awards to StemCells illustrates the tremendous promise of our neural stem cell technology and the high degree of confidence in the world class team of scientists and clinicians who will be working to translate this technology into potential treatments and cures for these devastating diseases."