FREMONT, Calif., Sept. 20, 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 announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted its request to meet to discuss proposed next steps for the OPC1 clinical development program. The Company’s Type B meeting request was made in accordance with the Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) designation under the 21st Century Cures Act.
“Based on the encouraging findings-to-date of the current study and our upcoming meeting with the FDA, we hope to finalize the trial design for a randomized controlled Phase 2 trial of OPC1 in the coming months,” commented Ed Wirth, Chief Medical Officer. “We look forward to updating investors on the study design in early 2019.”
The Company is currently completing the ongoing SCiStar trial, 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) spinal cord injuries (SCI). All of the patients have been enrolled and dosed and the Company believes the data presented to date have been consistently positive and reaffirm the Company’s view that OPC1 is safe and durably engrafts and has the potential to improve motor function.
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.
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.
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).
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 three 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. VAC1 (antigen-presenting autologous dendritic cells) is an autologous cancer immunotherapy with promising efficacy and safety data from an earlier Phase 2 study in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). 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.
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.
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Michael Polyviou/Todd Kehrli