Bay Area biotech company StemCells to shut down

StemCells, a Bay Area biotech company, is winding down operations after the failure of clinical trials for a stem-cell treatment for spinal cord injury.

The results of the clinical trials, which were underway, “did not justify continuing the study” considering StemCells’ limited financial resources, the company said in a press release Tuesday.

“We are extremely disappointed with the results of our Pathway Study, which we had hoped to be the first clinical program involving cellular transplantation to meaningfully improve motor function in patients with chronic spinal cord injury,” Ian Massey, president and CEO, said in a statement.

The company’s shares plunged 80 percent to about 60 cents Tuesday. Their Friday closing price was $3.03. StemCells said it has about $5.5 million in cash and cash equivalents, and that “it is possible that there will be no liquidating distribution to stockholders.”

The Newark-based company said it would look to sell its intellectual property and other assets. It is still scheduled to present data from its Pathway Study next month. In addition, Dr. Irv Weissman, a director and co-founder, said the company would try to find someone else to “find a party able to continue the development of this very promising technology, which is so important not only for current and future patients with these devastating diseases, but also for the field of brain stem and progenitor cell therapies.”

The company’s other work involved stem-cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and retinal disorders.

 

Illustration from Thinkstock

 

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  • bufny1

    STEM failed because you simply can’t expect stem cells to take root and flourish in a microenvironment as hostile as a spinal cord injured region (macrophages, cytokines etc etc)–another company-In Vivo therapeutics (NVIV) has recognized this fact and developed a polymer scaffold that when placed in the site of an acute spinal cord injury acts as an “anchor” to allow stem cells to bind and divide successfully. Their current human trial has had tremendous success in converting ASIA-A designated injuries to ASIA-B and even ASIA-C levels, something that has never been done before. They will eventually mix stem cells with this scaffold for use in a chronic spinal cord injured patient trial as well. This will clearly be the way of the future

 
 
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