Biotech firm

Aastrom Biosciences


said an Italian cancer treatment center will buy and use its bone marrow stem cell therapy product for an experimental breast cancer treatment.

The treatment center, AUSL Ravenna, will use Aastrom's Replicell System to generate bone marrow stem cells. The clinical study is being supported financially by the Italian government, and it involves the patient being treated with chemotherapy followed by an infusion of the stem cells. The cells will allow the patient to undergo the treatment several times by replacing cells that have been killed by chemotherapy.

The generated stem cells are also expected to be used in stem cell transplants in cancer patients who are not able to generate a sufficient number of their own.

AUSL Ravenna expects to begin the study in June of 2002 with about 10 patients.

Shares of Aastrom Biosciences were climbing 21% on the news to 60 cents after closing at 47 cents Tuesday.