ALS Therapy Development Institute and California Stem Cell, Inc. Announce Long-Term Scientific Collaboration

Bi-coastal collaboration aimed at applying stem cell technology to an

'orphan disease' in a unique translational research setting

Jul 29, 2008, 01:00 ET from ALS Therapy Development Foundation

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and IRVINE, Calif., July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
 ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) and California Stem Cell, Inc.
 (CSC) announced today a new collaboration aimed at advancing any potential
 application of stem cells in treating ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
 commonly known as Lou Gehrig's diseases. The new set of experiments will
 begin in August 2008 and continue through the end of 2009. This effort is
 the latest in the two groups' on-going partnership to understand how stem
 cells, and their derivatives, may be used as part of a therapeutic strategy
 to treat or cure the fatal neurodegenerative disease.
     "It is no mystery to us in the ALS community that stem cells ought to
 be looked at and considered by researchers. The work we are doing together
 with California Stem Cell will help to make sure that we are leaving no
 stone unturned in our mission to discover and develop an effective
 treatment that will slow or stop ALS," said Sean Scott, president of ALS
     ALS is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in progressive paralysis
 and is considered fatal. The disease strikes typically without an
 identifiable cause, indiscriminately affecting a new family every 90
 minutes in the U.S. That incidence rate is similar to that of multiple
 sclerosis, but the typical survival prognosis given to a new ALS patient is
 only 2-5 years from their date of diagnosis. Currently, there is no known
 cure for ALS and only one FDA-approved drug, with marginal efficacy, for
 treating the disease.
     "ALS TDI is a natural partner. Their expertise in preclinical research
 focused on ALS is unparalleled. With ALS TDI we have access to a dedicated
 and passionate group of experts that can help to fully understand how stem
 cell derived products may play a role in a potential therapeutic for this
 horrible disease," said Chris Airriess, chief operating officer for
 California Stem Cell, Inc.
     California Stem Cell recently presented the findings from the two
 groups' previous collaboration during the International Society for Stem
 Cell Research annual meeting June 11th in Philadelphia. In that experiment,
 the two groups worked together to design and execute experiments aimed at
 transplanting high purity motor neurons developed and manufactured by CSC,
 into the spinal cords of mice with neuronal loss at ALS TDI.
     The collaborations between ALS TDI and CSC are funded in part through a
 major, three-year, $18 million funding and scientific partnership ALS TDI
 entered into at the beginning of 2007 with the Muscular Dystrophy
 Association (MDA) and its Augie's Quest Initiative.
     About the ALS Therapy Development Institute
     The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) (, based in
 Cambridge, Mass., operates the world's largest research and development
 program focused exclusively on ALS. At ALS TDI, a staff of over 30
 scientists and research technicians work on behalf of ALS patients to
 discover and advance novel therapeutics for treating and ultimately curing
 ALS. The nonprofit biotechnology institute excels in identifying novel
 disease targets, discovering compounds that may act against these targets,
 and screening potential treatments for clinical development.
     About California Stem Cell, Inc.
     California Stem Cell, Inc. is a privately held company focused on the
 manufacturing of high-purity human cells for therapeutic development and
 clinical application. Since its founding in 2005, CSC has developed and has
 intellectual property surrounding methods for scalable production of human
 motor neurons, neuronal progenitors, cardiac muscle and sino-atrial node
 cells at its Irvine, Calif. facility. CSC is currently in the pre-clinical
 development stage of stem cell based therapies for ALS, spinal muscular
 atrophy (SMA), spinal cord injury (SCI) and coronary heart disease. For
 more information, visit
     About Augie's Quest
     Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto started Augie's Quest (
 in conjunction with MDA's ALS Division. Nieto is co-founder and former
 president of Life Fitness of Chicago, and chairman of Octane Fitness. He
 and his wife, Lynne, serve as co-chairpersons of MDA's ALS Division. Nieto
 received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005.
     About MDA
     MDA ( is the world's largest provider of ALS services and
 funder of ALS research. Over the years, it has expended almost $210 million
 in this effort. It operates 225 neuromuscular disease clinics across the
 country and 38 ALS-specific research and care centers.
     CONTACT: Robert Goldstein of ALS TDI, +1-617-441-7295,; or Chris Airriess of California Stem Cell,

SOURCE ALS Therapy Development Foundation