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: Athersys shares continue rally on Pfizer deal
(Reuters) - Shares of biotechnology company Athersys Inc (ATHX.O) continued their rally for the second day on Tuesday, a day after the company inked a deal with pharma giant Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) on its experimental stem cell therapy.
Under the agreement, Pfizer will pay Athersys $6 million upfront and up to $105 million in milestones for Athersy's stem cell therapy, MultiStem, which is being developed for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Analyst Stephen Brozak of WBB Securities said, "this deal is an indication that Athersys is not only demonstrating confidence in the program, but also maintaining control of its destiny with regard to other, more advanced MultiStem applications, such as MultiStem for Bone Marrow Transplants and MultiStem for Acute Myocardial Infarctions (heart attack)."
Both the applications are being tested in an early stage clinical trial.
Brozak upgraded the stock to "buy" but reiterated his $8 price target on the shares.
Shares of the company were up 35 pct at $3.23 on Nasdaq. They rose to as much as $3.59 earlier in the session.
About 8 million shares changed hands in morning trade, more than 8 times their 10-day moving average volume.
(Reporting by Krishnakali Sengupta in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)
Feb. 10, 2010 (GlobeNewswire) -- CLEVELAND, Feb. 10, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today that it has been granted U.S. patent 7,659,118 that covers non-embryonic multipotent stem cells, their isolation and expansion, and related pharmaceutical compositions. Athersys also announced that it has been granted ? and the opposition period has cleared ? EP patent EP1218489B1 that covers non-embryonic pluripotent stem cells, their isolation, expansion, and usage.
The issued patents cover Athersys' proprietary scalable MultiStem® technology, which is an investigational stem cell therapy that has demonstrated therapeutic potential to treat a broad range of diseases and indications, including acute myocardial infarction, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), bone marrow transplant support and ischemic stroke. Athersys announced in December 2009 a strategic partnership with Pfizer under which the companies will jointly develop MultiStem for IBD.
"These patents further expand our stem cell IP estate and offer additional validation of the strength and breadth of the Athersys IP portfolio," said William (B.J.) Lehmann, President and COO of Athersys. "We believe that these patents are especially important as they extend the coverage of the composition, isolation, differentiation and scalable manufacturing of non-embryonic stem cells that are core to our technology and product portfolio."
Both patents form part of Athersys' broad intellectual property (IP) portfolio of 14 granted patents and more than 120 global patent applications around its stem cell technology and MultiStem product platform. The current IP estate, which incorporates additional filings and may broaden over time, could provide coverage for Athersys' cell compositions, methods of use, manufacturing processes, and product candidates through as late as 2028.
MultiStem is a patented and proprietary cell therapy product consisting of a special class of stem cell that is obtained from bone marrow or other tissue sources of healthy, consenting adult donors, and which has the demonstrated ability to produce a range of factors and form multiple cell types. MultiStem appears to promote tissue repair and healing in multiple ways, such as through the production of multiple therapeutic factors produced in response to signals of inflammation and tissue damage. Athersys believes that MultiStem represents a unique "off-the-shelf" stem cell product. This belief is based on work that demonstrates the ability of MultiStem to deliver multiple mechanisms of therapeutic benefit, to be administered without tissue matching or immunosuppression, and to be produced on a large-scale. Athersys has forged strategic partnerships with Pfizer to develop MultiStem for IBD and with Angiotech to develop MultiStem in acute myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular indications. In 2008, Athersys was awarded the Frost & Sullivan North American Product Innovation of the Year Award for MultiStem, which cited the product as having best-in-class potential among stem cell and regenerative medicine technologies.
Athersys is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical 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 MultiStem®, a patented, adult-derived "off-the-shelf" stem cell product platform for multiple disease indications, including damage caused by myocardial infarction, bone marrow transplantation and oncology treatment support, ischemic stroke, and inflammatory bowel disease. The Company is also developing a portfolio of other therapeutic programs, including orally active pharmaceutical product candidates for the treatment of metabolic and central nervous system disorders, utilizing proprietary technologies, including Random Activation of Gene Expression (RAGE®). Athersys has forged several key strategic alliances 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.
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