Monday, October 02, 2017

Asterias Biotherapeutics: Sizzling Superlatives on California Stem Cell Trial for Spinal Cord Injuries

A California stem cell trial backed with $21 million in state cash has generated "super, super-exciting" results involving patients who were paralyzed as the result of  severe spinal cord injuries.

A story today by Erin Allday in the San Francisco Chronicle said,
"Four out of six paralyzed patients who had 10 million stem cells transplanted into their spinal cords have shown striking improvement a year after treatment, including increased ability to move their hands and arms and to perform basic functions like feeding and bathing themselves, according to research results being released Monday. 
"All six patients in the early-stage clinical trial, conducted by Fremont’s Asterias Biotherapeutics, reported at least some recovery after the stem cell transplant. The trial is among the first to use embryonic stem cells in human subjects. 
"It’s too soon to know for sure that the stem cells were solely responsible for the patients’ improvement. The patients could have experienced a spontaneous recovery, which is not unheard of in spinal cord injury victims, or their improvement could be the result of intense rehabilitation. 
"But compared to a large group of people with similar injuries, the results among patients treated with stem cells were remarkable, said doctors and scientists involved with research.

Allday also wrote,
“Scientifically, I have to say we don’t know for sure if it’s the stem cells. But I’ve been treating these kinds of patients for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Dr. Richard Fessler, lead investigator of the Asterias trial and a professor in the department of neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago."
The Chronicle story continued,
"'The bottom line is super, super exciting. Well beyond anything I thought we could have achieved at this point,' said Dr. Edward Wirth, chief medical officer with Asterias."
The story was good news for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the $3 billion, state stem cell agency is formally known and which has pumped the $21 million into the work. However, the bad news was that the agency's support of the research was not mentioned until the last paragraph of the Chronicle story. Most readers are not likely to get that far.

CIRM has backed Asterias with $14.3 million. The agency also funded the research with $6.4 million to Geron Corp.,which abandoned the trial for financial reasons. Asterias later acquired the research from Geron.

The agency has had a tough time getting its successes into the mainstream media for a number of years. But its story is now more important for the agency and will be for the new next three years. It is scheduled to run out of money for new awards in mid 2020. It is currently examining funding options including the possibility of asking voters for another multi-billion dollar bond issue. The nearly 13-year-old effort has not yet fulfilled voter expectations of development of a widely available therapy. Without something dramatic to show voters, a bond issue is likely to have heavy going.

The agency also put out a news release on the developments as did Asterias. However, a check with Google at 4 p.m. Monday showed that no other newspapers or other major mainstream outlets have picked up the story yet.

The news seemed to benefit the price of Asterias stock. It rose nearly 6 percent today, closing at $3.20. Its 52-week high is $5.80 and its 52-week low is $2.83.super Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment