Publication in Cell Transplantation Indicates That MultiStem(R) Could be Used in Treatment of Orphan Neurological Disorders

MultiStem Administration Provides Benefit in Preclinical Model of Hurler's Syndrome and Recent Patent Issuance Provides Coverage for MultiStem Treatment of Orphan Neurological Disorders

| Source: Athersys, Inc.

CLEVELAND, April 20, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today the publication in the scientific journal, Cell Transplantation, of an article that describes the results of a preclinical study evaluating the administration of MultiStem® for the treatment of MPS-I (or Hurler's Syndrome). The article, authored by investigators at the University of Minnesota together with scientists from Athersys, describes preclinical study results suggesting that the stem cells could provide benefit to patients suffering from lysosomal storage disorders, such as Hurler's Syndrome.

Lysosomal storage diseases are a group of rare, inherited diseases that initially result from defects in the lysosome, a component of the cell that is responsible for the breakdown of certain molecules, such as complex lipids and sugars. In afflicted individuals, the lysosome produces too little of an enzyme that is necessary for the break-down of these materials, resulting in unwanted accumulations in the cells and tissues, which can lead to neurological disease and a range other complications. Hurler's Syndrome is caused by a deficiency of a specific enzyme responsible for degrading complex sugars called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), accumulation of which can lead to mental retardation, respiratory and cardiac complications, and death in early childhood.

The published study demonstrates that an injection of MultiStem cells in neonatal MPS-I mice reduces the accumulation of GAGs in the brain thereby resulting in improvements in behavioral and motor function in the diseased mice. "The results suggest that MultiStem treatment may have relevance for certain orphan genetic diseases such as lysosomal storage diseases," said Dr. Robert Mays, Head of Neuroscience at Athersys and one of the co-authors of the manuscript. "While these conditions affect only a small number of patients, there are limited treatment options available to ameliorate or reverse disease progression, and it remains an area of unmet clinical need."

The company also announced the issuance of U.S. patent 7,927,587, which covers the use of non-embryonic, multipotent stem cells for the treatment of lysosomal storage diseases. The patent applies to Hurler's Syndrome and other lysosomal storage disorders, such as Fabry's disease, Gaucher's disease, Niemann-Pick disease and Batten's disease, among many others.

A link to the published manuscript is available at or at  

About MultiStem

MultiStem® cell therapy is a patented product that has shown the ability to promote tissue repair and healing in a variety of ways, such as through the production of multiple therapeutic factors produced in response to signals of inflammation and tissue damage. MultiStem has demonstrated therapeutic potential for the treatment of inflammatory and immune disorders, neurological conditions, and cardiovascular disease, as well as other areas, and represents a unique "off-the-shelf" stem cell product that can be manufactured in a scalable manner, may be stored for years in frozen form, and is administered without tissue matching or the need for immune suppression. The product is extensively characterized for safety, consistency and potency. Athersys has forged strategic partnerships with Pfizer Inc. to develop MultiStem for inflammatory bowel disease and with RTI Biologics, Inc. to develop cell therapy for use with a bone allograft product in the orthopedic market.

About Athersys

Athersys is a clinical stage biotechnology company engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutic product candidates designed to extend and enhance the quality of human life. The Company is developing its MultiStem® cell therapy product, a patented, adult-derived "off-the-shelf" stem cell product platform for disease indications in the cardiovascular, neurological, inflammatory and immune disease areas. The Company currently has several clinical stage programs involving MultiStem, including for treating inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic stroke, damage caused by myocardial infarction, and for the prevention of graft versus host disease. Athersys has also developed a diverse portfolio that includes other technologies and product development opportunities, and has forged strategic partnerships and collaborations with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as world-renowned research institutions in the United States and Europe to further develop its platform and products. More information is available at

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William (B.J.) Lehmann, J.D.
President and Chief Operating Officer
Tel: (216) 431-9900

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