NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NeoStem, Inc. (Nasdaq:NBS) ("NeoStem" or the "Company"), a leader in the emerging cellular therapy industry, today announced that it has received an award under the Small Business Innovative Research Program ("SBIR") of $147,765 for the "Development of Adult Pluripotent Very Small Embryonic Like (VSEL) Stem Cells to Treat Skin Wounds in Scleroderma" from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases ("NIH-NIAMS"). This award will fund studies to investigate the potential of very small embryonic-like stem cells ("VSELs™") in treating difficult to heal wounds in an animal model of scleroderma. The grant will support research to be headed by Denis O. Rodgerson, Ph.D., Director of Grants and Academic Liaison of NeoStem, and Dr. Vincent Falanga, M.D., The Barbara A. Gilchrest Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Biochemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine. The study will employ the tight skin ("Tsk") mouse to test the potential wound healing capabilities of autologous VSELs™ in treating difficult to heal skin ulcers in this disease. The Tsk mouse carries a heterogeneous mutation for the fibrillin-1 gene and rapidly exhibits the characteristic tight and thickened skin phenotype of scleroderma patients. Depending on the results of the study, the Company may qualify for up to an additional $1.5 million phase 2 grant for the indication from NIH-NIAMS. Over 300,000 people in the United States live with scleroderma, an autoimmune, connective tissue disorder which causes fibrosis of the skin and internal organs. Patients with scleroderma have an overproduction of extracellular matrix, and type 1 and 3 collagen. The disease involves vascular breakdown where the blood vessels in the skin degenerate and are replaced by collagen to form fibrotic tissue. The sclerotic tissue can also lead to digital ischemia and ulcers. Because of the vasculopathy, there is diminished blood supply to the lesion making the ulcers difficult to heal, prone to infection and possible progression to gangrene can occur that requires amputation. The ischemic ulcers are frequent, painful, and cause significant morbidity. There is presently no effective treatment of scleroderma or the ischemic ulcers.