FREMONT, Calif., May 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST), a biotechnology company pioneering the field of regenerative medicine, today announced new positive serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from its ongoing AST-OPC1 SCiStar Phase 1/2a clinical trial in patients with severe spinal cord injury, including:
- For the five AIS-A patients in the SCiStar study treated with 10 million AST-OPC1 cells (Cohort 2) who also received a serial MRI scan at six months of follow-up, the serial MRI scans at six months indicated no sign of lesion cavities in any patient. These fluid-filled cavities typically form by about three months following severe spinal cord injury and prevent significant recovery of motor and sensory function.
- For the three patients in Cohort 2 that have also completed 12 months of follow-up, serial MRI scans at 12 months continued to indicate no signs of lesion cavities.
- All three AIS-A patients who received a low dose of 2 million cells (Cohort 1) in the SCiStar study also showed no sign of lesion cavities in any patient through 1 year of follow-up. All three patients are continuing long-term follow-up and will receive additional MRI scans annually.
The MRI results are supportive of the extensive pre-clinical data on AST-OPC1 showing that AST-OPC1 cells durably engraft and help prevent cavitation at the injury site. Cavitation is a destructive process that occurs within the spinal cord following spinal cord injuries, and typically results in permanent loss of motor and sensory function. Additionally, a patient with cavitation can develop a condition known as syringomyelia which results in additional neurological and functional damage to the patient.
"These new follow-up results based on MRI scans are very encouraging, and strongly suggest that AST-OPC1 cells have engrafted in these patients post-implantation and have the potential to prevent lesion cavity formation, possibly reducing long-term spinal cord tissue deterioration after spinal cord injury," said Dr. Edward Wirth, Chief Medical Officer of Asterias. "Moreover, these new results add to the overall body of data supporting AST-OPC1's safety, and are consistent with safety data from our previous Phase 1 study in thoracic spinal cord injury and our extensive preclinical studies in more than 3,000 animals."
Under the study protocol, patients are monitored by MRI scans at regular intervals over 12 months in order to assess status of the injection site and surrounding tissues.
The Company will discuss the MRI data in more detail on its first quarter 2017 conference call and webcast on May 11, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern / 1:30 p.m Pacific. For both "listen-only" participants and those participants who wish to take part in the question-and-answer session, the call can be accessed by dialing 800-533-7619 (U.S./Canada) or 785-830-1923 (international) five minutes prior to the start of the call and providing the Conference ID 7610291. To access the live webcast, go to http://asteriasbiotherapeutics.com/inv_events_presentations.php.
About the SCiStar Trial
The SCiStar trial is an open-label, single-arm trial testing three sequential escalating doses of AST-OPC1 administered at up to 20 million AST-OPC1 cells in as many as 35 patients with sub-acute, C-5 to C-7, motor complete (AIS-A or AIS-B) cervical SCI. These individuals have essentially lost all movement below their injury site and experience severe paralysis of the upper and lower limbs. AIS-A patients have lost all motor and sensory function below their injury site, while AIS-B patients have lost all motor function but may retain some minimal sensory function below their injury site. AST-OPC1 is being administered 14 to 30 days post-injury. Patients will be followed by neurological exams and imaging procedures to assess the safety and activity of the product.
The study is being conducted at six centers in the U.S. and the company plans to increase this to up to 12 sites to accommodate the expanded patient enrollment. Clinical sites involved in the study include the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Shepherd Medical Center in Atlanta, University of Southern California (USC) jointly with Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles, Indiana University, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose jointly with Stanford University.
Asterias has received a Strategic Partnerships Award grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which provides $14.3 million of non-dilutive funding for the Phase 1/2a clinical trial and other product development activities for AST-OPC1.
AST-OPC1, an oligodendrocyte progenitor population derived from human embryonic stem cells, has been shown in animals and in vitro to have three potentially reparative functions that address the complex pathologies observed at the injury site of a spinal cord injury. These activities of AST-OPC1 include production of neurotrophic factors, stimulation of vascularization, and induction of remyelination of denuded axons, all of which are critical for survival, regrowth and conduction of nerve impulses through axons at the injury site. In preclinical animal testing, AST-OPC1 administration led to remyelination of axons, improved hindlimb and forelimb locomotor function, dramatic reductions in injury-related cavitation and significant preservation of myelinated axons traversing the injury site.
In a previous Phase 1 clinical trial, five patients with neurologically complete, thoracic spinal cord injury were administered two million AST-OPC1 cells at the spinal cord injury site 7-14 days post-injury. They also received low levels of immunosuppression for the next 60 days. Delivery of AST-OPC1 was successful in all five subjects with no serious adverse events associated with AST-OPC1. No evidence of rejection of AST-OPC1 was observed in detailed immune response monitoring of all patients. In four of the five patients, serial MRI scans indicated that reduced spinal cord cavitation may have occurred. Based on the results of this study, Asterias received clearance from FDA to progress testing of AST-OPC1 to patients with cervical spine injuries, which represents the first targeted population for registration trials.
About Asterias Biotherapeutics
Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company pioneering the field of regenerative medicine. The company's proprietary cell therapy programs are based on its pluripotent stem cell and immunotherapy platform technologies. Asterias is presently focused on advancing three clinical-stage programs which have the potential to address areas of very high unmet medical need in the fields of neurology and oncology. AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells) is currently in a Phase 1/2a dose escalation clinical trial in spinal cord injury. AST-VAC1 (antigen-presenting autologous dendritic cells) is undergoing continuing development by Asterias based on promising efficacy and safety data from a Phase 2 study in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), with current efforts focused on streamlining and modernizing the manufacturing process. AST-VAC2 (antigen-presenting allogeneic dendritic cells) represents a second generation, allogeneic cancer immunotherapy. The company's research partner, Cancer Research UK, plans to begin a Phase 1/2a clinical trial of AST-VAC2 in non-small cell lung cancer in 2017. Additional information about Asterias can be found at www.asteriasbiotherapeutics.com.
Statements pertaining to future financial and/or operating and/or clinical research results, future growth in research, technology, clinical development, and potential opportunities for Asterias, along with other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans, or prospects expressed by management constitute forward-looking statements. Any statements that are not historical fact (including, but not limited to statements that contain words such as "will," "believes," "plans," "anticipates," "expects," "estimates") should also be considered to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and/or commercialization of potential products, uncertainty in the results of clinical trials or regulatory approvals, need and ability to obtain future capital, and maintenance of intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements and as such should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect the businesses of Asterias, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in Asterias' filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Asterias disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
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SOURCE Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc.