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FREMONT, Calif., Sept. 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE American: AST), a biotechnology company dedicated to developing cell-based therapeutics to treat neurological conditions associated with demyelination and cellular immunotherapies to treat cancer, today provided additional data from the Company’s ongoing Phase 1/2a SCiStar study designed to evaluate the safety and potential efficacy of OPC1 in the treatment of severe cervical spinal cord injury. All 6 subjects from Cohort 2 in the SCiStar study have now completed a 24-month follow-up as part of the study’s long-term follow-up protocol and each subject either retained the motor function recovery seen through 12 months or saw further motor function recovery from 12 to 24 months.
“While the primary endpoint for the SCiStar trial was 12 months, we are further encouraged by this additional follow-up data that shows both durable engraftment and motor function recovery being maintained or improved upon at 24 months,” commented Ed Wirth, Chief Medical Officer. “We believe the primary goal of SCiStar, which was to observe the safety of OPC1 in cervical spinal cord injury patients and to accumulate data related to important factors such as optimal dosing levels, the immunosuppression regimen, engraftment of the cells, and rates of motor recovery observed among different study subpopulations, have been successfully achieved and increases our confidence as we prepare to meet the FDA later this year to discuss the next trial design.”
Below are a summary of key findings at 24 months for the Cohort 2 subjects:
OPC1 Therapeutic Platform
OPC1, an oligodendrocyte progenitor cell population derived from human embryonic stem cells, has been shown in preclinical testing in animals and in vitro to have three potentially reparative functions that address the complex pathologies observed in demyelination disorders, such as spinal cord injury and multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis and white matter stroke. These potential reparative functions of OPC1 include the production of neurotrophic factors, the stimulation of vascularization, and the induction of remyelination of denuded axons, all of which are critical for survival and regrowth of—and conduction of nerve impulses through—axons at the injury site.
Each year in the United States, more than 17,000 people suffer a severe, debilitating spinal cord injury. As of 2016, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reported that approximately 4,500 of these new spinal cord injuries annually in the U.S. are AIS-A, AIS-B, or AIS-C patients with C-4 to C-7 spinal cord injuries (https://www.nscisc.uab.edu/). These injuries can be devastating to quality of life and ability to function independently. Lifetime healthcare costs for these patients can often approach $5 million. Improvements in arm, hand, and finger functional capabilities in these patients can result in meaningfully lower healthcare costs, significant improvements in quality of life, greater ability to engage in activities of daily living, and increased independence.
Anticipated Data Readouts for the SCiStar Study
Asterias has completed enrollment and dosing in all five of its planned SCiStar study cohorts. The Company intends to report 12 month results for the entire SCiStar study in the first quarter of 2019.
About Asterias Biotherapeutics
Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company dedicated to developing cell-based therapeutics to treat neurological conditions associated with demyelination and cellular immunotherapies to treat cancer. Asterias is presently focused on advancing two clinical-stage programs which have the potential to address areas of very high unmet medical need in the fields of neurology and oncology. OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells) is currently in a Phase 1/2a dose escalation clinical trial in spinal cord injury. VAC2 (antigen-presenting allogeneic dendritic cells) is an allogeneic cancer immunotherapy. The Company's research partner, Cancer Research UK, has commenced a first-in-human clinical trial of VAC2 in non-small cell lung cancer. Asterias is also sponsoring pre-clinical work in two conditions with a demyelinating component: Multiple Sclerosis and White Matter Stroke, and is evaluating other cancer indications where its immunotherapy platform could provide therapeutic benefit. Additional information about Asterias can be found at www.asteriasbiotherapeutics.com.
OPC1, an oligodendrocyte progenitor cell population derived from human embryonic stem cells, has been shown in preclinical testing in animals and in vitro to have three potentially reparative functions that address the complex pathologies observed in demyelination disorders, such as spinal cord injuries, and multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis and white matter stroke. These potential reparative functions of OPC1 include the production of neurotrophic factors, the stimulation of vascularization, and the induction of remyelination of denuded axons, all of which are critical for survival and regrowth of—and conduction of nerve impulses through—axons at the injury site.
About the SCiStar Trial
The SCiStar trial is an open-label, single-arm trial testing three sequential escalating doses of OPC1 administered at up to 20 million OPC1 cells in 25 subjects with subacute motor complete (AIS-A or AIS-B) cervical (C-4 to C-7) SCI. These individuals have essentially lost all movement below their injury site and experience severe paralysis of the upper and lower limbs. AIS-A subjects have lost all motor and sensory function below their injury site, while AIS-B subjects have lost all motor function but may have retained some minimal sensory function below their injury site. OPC1 is administered 21 to 42 days post-injury. Subjects will be followed by neurological exams and imaging procedures to assess the safety and activity of the product.
The SCiStar study consists of five cohorts:
|Cohort||Injury Type; OPC1 Dose||# of Subjects|
|Cohort 1||AIS-A; 2M OPC1 cells
(low dose for initial safety evaluation)
|Cohort 2||AIS-A; 10M OPC1 cells||6|
|Cohort 3||AIS-A; 20M OPC1 cells*||6|
|Cohort 4||AIS-B; 10M OPC1 cells||6|
|Cohort 5||AIS-B; 20M OPC1 cells*||4|
|*One subject from Cohort 3 and one subject from Cohort 5 were administered 10 million cells.|
Asterias has received a Strategic Partnerships Award grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which provided $14.3 million of non-dilutive funding for the Phase 1/2a clinical trial and other product development activities for OPC1.
Additional information on the Phase 1/2a trial, including trial sites, can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov, using Identifier NCT02302157, and at the SCiStar Study Website (www.SCiStar-study.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.