NEWARK, Calif., Feb. 12, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) announced today that it has completed enrollment of the first of two planned patient cohorts in the Company's clinical trial of its proprietary HuCNS-SC ® product candidate (purified human neural stem cells) for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This cohort consisted of eight subjects, four of whom each received 200,000 cells and four of whom each received 1,000,000 cells. The last patient in this cohort was transplanted by Dr. Ted Leng, M.D. Director of Ophthalmic Diagnostics at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford. "Our immediate goal for the study in the next quarter is to complete enrollment of the second cohort. The eight patients in this stage of the trial will have better visual acuity than those in the first cohort," said Stephen Huhn, M.D., FACS, FAAP, Vice President, CNS Clinical Research at StemCells, Inc. "We are expanding the trial from two sites at the beginning to ultimately a total of five sites, and with additional sites actively evaluating patients, the second cohort should be completed by mid-year. We also expect to announce interim follow-up data on the first cohort later this year. Following enrollment of the second cohort, we expect to initiate a controlled phase II efficacy proof-of-concept study by year end." About Age-Related Macular Degeneration Age-related macular degeneration refers to a loss of photoreceptors (rods and cones) from the macula, the central part of the retina. AMD is a degenerative retinal disease that typically strikes adults in their 50s or early 60s and gradually progresses to destroy central vision. According to the Foundation Fighting Blindness website, an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. either have AMD or are at substantial risk for receiving the diagnosis. Overall, about 85% of patients with AMD suffer from the dry form of the disease, and the advanced dry form of AMD is referred to as Geographic Atrophy.