StemCells, Inc. Achieves Spinal Cord Injury Milestone With First Neural Stem Cell Transplant Into Patient With Sensory Function Below The Level Of Injury

NEWARK, Calif., Sept. 27, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) today announced that the first patient with an incomplete spinal cord injury has been enrolled in the Company's Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic spinal cord injury and transplanted with the Company's proprietary HuCNS-SC ® neural stem cells. The patient, a Canadian man who suffered a thoracic spinal cord injury from a sports-related accident, was administered the cells yesterday at Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, a world leading medical center for spinal cord injury and rehabilitation. This is the first patient in the second cohort of the trial, which will be comprised of four patients who retain some sensory function below the level of trauma and are therefore considered to have an incomplete injury.

"This is an important milestone for StemCells and the spinal cord injury community as it is the first time anyone has ever transplanted neural stem cells into a patient with an incomplete injury," said Stephen Huhn, MD, FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, Inc. "Given the encouraging interim data from the most severely injured patient cohort that we reported earlier this month, testing patients with less severe injury should afford us an even better opportunity to continue to test safety and to detect and assess clinical changes.  Unlike the patients in the first cohort, patients with incomplete injuries have retained a degree of spinal cord function that might be even further augmented by transplantation with neural stem cells." 

Earlier this month, the Company reported that interim six-month data from the first patient cohort in the Phase I/II clinical trial continued to demonstrate a favorable safety profile, and showed considerable gains in sensory function in two of the three patients compared to pre-transplant baselines. Patients in the first cohort all suffered a complete injury to their spinal cord, leaving them with no neurological function below the level of injury. Following transplantation with HuCNS-SC cells, there were no abnormal clinical, electrophysiological or radiological responses to the cells, and all the patients were neurologically stable through the first six months after transplantation. Changes in sensitivity to touch, heat and electrical stimuli were observed in well-defined and consistent areas below the level of injury in two of the patients, while the third patient remained stable. Importantly, the changes in sensory function were confirmed objectively by measures of electrical impulse transmission across the site of injury, each of which correlated with the clinical examination.

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