A potential new way to mend broken hearts has just gotten a boost, as Athersys received an SBIR fast-track grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to support a Phase II clinical study evaluating the administration of Athersys’ MultiStem® therapy to patients who have suffered a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The grant is expected to provide up to $2.8 million in support over the course of the study in connection with study progress and milestone achievement.

MultiStem cell therapy is a regenerative medicine product that, according to Athersys, can promote tissue repair and healing in different ways. In addition to cardiovascular disease, MultiStem has reportedly demonstrated therapeutic potential for the treatment of inflammatory and immune disorders, neurological conditions, and other illnesses. Athersys entered partnerships with Pfizer back in December of 2009 to develop MultiStem for inflammatory bowel disease and with RTI Biologics in September of 2010 to develop a bone allograft product in the orthopedic market.

“The Phase II clinical study will build on the promising results demonstrated previously in our AMI Phase II trial completed in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, Columbia University Medical Center, Henry Ford, and other leading cardiovascular centers, and is intended to establish definitive proof-of-concept,” said Anthony Ting, Ph.D., senior director of cardiovascular and pulmonary at Athersys. “We expect to initiate the study early next year.”

This is not the first time the MultiStem program has received an SBIR fast-track grant; it also received one in February of 2012 providing up to $1.9 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to develop MultiStem for the treatment of traumatic brain injury.

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