ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Neuralstem, Inc. (NYSE Amex: CUR) announced that Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the Phase I trial to test Neuralstem's NSI-566 spinal cord stem cells in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), updated data on the trial at the American Neurological Association annual meeting in Boston, MA, yesterday. (http://www.aneuroa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3311). Dr. Feldman, who is President of the American Neurological Association, presented interim results on all 18 procedures in 15 patients, including the last three patients from earlier cohorts who received second procedures. The trial will conclude six months after the last patient was treated, which was in August.
"This has been a very successful trial so far," said Dr. Feldman, Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute and Director of Research of the ALS Clinic at the University of Michigan Health System. "With the transplantation of these neural stem cells, we are exploring a paradigm shift in the treatment of ALS. We have demonstrated that intraspinal transplantation is feasible and well-tolerated. Although this phase of the trial was not powered to demonstrate efficacy, we appear to have interrupted the progression of the disease in one subgroup of patients. We are anxious to move to future trial phases to examine therapeutic efficacy." Dr. Feldman is an unpaid consultant to Neuralstem.
"The purpose of this trial was to assess the safety of both the intraspinal transplantation procedure, the first in the world, and of the cells themselves, " said Karl Johe, PhD, Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientific Officer of Neuralstem, Inc. "All assessments show both to be safe. Additionally, we believe we are seeing evidence of a treatment effect in some patients over a sustained period of time. We need now to move forward to more advanced, larger trials to increase the dosage and more effectively look at possible efficacy."
About the Trial
The Phase I trial to assess the safety of Neuralstem's NSI-566 spinal cord neural stem cells and intraspinal transplantation method in ALS patients commenced in January 2010, and consisted of 18 treatments in 15 patients. The trial was designed to follow a risk escalation paradigm. The first 12 patients were each transplanted in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine, beginning with non-ambulatory and advancing to ambulatory cohorts.
The trial then advanced to transplantation in the cervical (upper back) region of the spine. The first cohort of three was treated in the cervical region only. In an amendment to the trial design, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the return of previously-treated patients to this cohort. Consequently, the last cohort of three patients received injections in the cervical region in addition to the lumbar injections they had received earlier. All injections delivered 100,000 cells, for a dosing range of up to 1.5 million cells. The last patient was treated in August, 2012. The entire trial concludes six months after the final surgery.
Neuralstem's patented technology enables the ability to produce neural stem cells of the human brain and spinal cord in commercial quantities, and the ability to control the differentiation of these cells constitutively into mature, physiologically relevant human neurons and glia. Neuralstem has recently treated the last patient in an FDA-approved Phase I safety clinical trial for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, and has been awarded orphan status designation by the FDA.
In addition to ALS, the company is also targeting major central nervous system conditions with its NSI-566 cell therapy platform, including spinal cord injury, ischemic stroke and glioblastoma (brain cancer). The company has submitted an IND (Investigational New Drug) application to the FDA for a Phase I safety trial in spinal cord injury.
Neuralstem also has the ability to generate stable human neural stem cell lines suitable for the systematic screening of large chemical libraries. Through this proprietary screening technology, Neuralstem has discovered and patented compounds that may stimulate the brain's capacity to generate new neurons, possibly reversing the pathologies of some central nervous system conditions. The company is in a Phase Ib safety trial evaluating NSI-189, its first neurogenic small molecule compound, for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Additional indications could include chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Alzheimer's disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward Looking Information
This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements in this press release regarding potential applications of Neuralstem's technologies constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and commercialization of potential products, uncertainty of clinical trial results or regulatory approvals or clearances, need for future capital, dependence upon collaborators and maintenance of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Neuralstem's periodic reports, including the annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011 and the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2012.
SOURCE Neuralstem, Inc.