CLEVELAND, Oct. 10, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today the publication of an article in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Journal of Neuroinflammation, that describes the results of a preclinical study evaluating the administration of MultiStem ® cell therapy for the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in rodents. The article, authored by investigators from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), together with scientists from Athersys, describes preclinical study results demonstrating that administration of MultiStem cells modulates the inflammatory environment that follows TBI, by reducing immune cell and cytokine activity associated with inflammation. TBI affects approximately 1.7 million patients in the United States annually and severe injuries can be associated with significant long-term physical, cognitive and psychological deficits. As in other acute injuries and diseases affecting the central nervous system, such as stroke and spinal cord injury, TBI leads to substantial inflammation, which slows innate recovery processes and contributes to secondary tissue damage. The publication further illustrates the mechanisms through which cellular therapy may provide benefit to patients suffering significant injury to the central nervous system. "MultiStem therapy shows promise for treating traumatic brain injury, as well as ischemic stroke and spinal cord injury," said Dr. Robert Mays, Head of Neuroscience at Athersys. "These latest preclinical results further confirm that MultiStem cells have substantial anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties that could be important in treating multiple central nervous system disease conditions." In pre-clinical experiments, rodents underwent controlled cortical impact brain injury receiving either MultiStem cells or placebo following the injury. The injured, cell-treated animals had significant increases in T-regulatory cells in the spleen and plasma at 24 and 48 hours, respectively, compared to the placebo-treated animals. Further, MultiStem treatment was associated with an increase in the ratio of neuroprotective (M2) macrophages relative to proinflammatory (M1) macrophages responsible for the production of inflammatory cytokines and associated neurotoxicity. Additionally, cell treatment resulted in a reduction of blood brain barrier permeability and preserved splenic mass following the injury, suggesting that MultiStem treatment may provide benefit to TBI patients through multiple pathways.