BioTime Subsidiary Asterias Biotherapeutics Receives U.S. FDA Clearance to Initiate Phase 1/2a Clinical Trial of AST-OPC1 in Patients With Cervical Complete Spinal Cord Injury
Dose Escalation Clinical Trial to Test Initial Safety and Activity of AST-OPC1 in Patient Population with the First Indication Targeted for Product Registration
FDA Clearance Triggers Definitive Contract Finalization with California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to Begin $14.3 Million in Trial Funding
ALAMEDA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BioTime, Inc. (NYSE MKT:BTX) announced that its subsidiary Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (OTCBB:ASTY) has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to initiate a Phase 1/2a clinical trial of its product, AST-OPC1, in patients with complete cervical spinal cord injury. The approved trial follows the successful completion of the Phase 1 clinical study of the product, and is designed to assess safety and activity of escalating doses of AST-OPC1 in patients with complete cervical spinal cord injuries, the first targeted indication for AST-OPC1 and the first of future product registration clinical trials.
“We would like to acknowledge the scientists, clinical investigators, and FDA for working with us to develop AST-OPC1”
“We would like to acknowledge the scientists, clinical investigators, and FDA for working with us to develop AST-OPC1,” stated Pedro Lichtinger, President and CEO of Asterias. “We are especially enthusiastic about working with our new partner, CIRM, in executing this clinical trial. The FDA clearance provides Asterias with imminent access to the previously announced $14.3 million CIRM grant, which provides non-dilutive funding to support both the clinical trial and other product development activities for AST-OPC1.”
AST-OPC1 is a population of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that contains oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). OPCs and oligodendrocytes perform supportive functions for nerve cells in the central nervous system. The foundation for this newly cleared Phase 1/2a clinical trial comes from results from the Phase 1 clinical trial of AST-OPC1, which met its primary endpoints of safety and feasibility when administered to five patients with neurologically-complete, thoracic spinal cord injury. These five patients were administered a low dose of two million AST-OPC1 cells and have been followed to date for 2 to 3 years. No serious adverse events were observed associated with the delivery of the cells, the cells themselves, or the short-course immunosuppression regimen used. There was no evidence of expanding masses, expanding cysts, infections, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, increased inflammation, neural tissue deterioration or immune responses targeting AST-OPC1 in these patients. In four of the five subjects, serial MRI scans performed throughout the 2 to 3 year follow-up period indicate that reduced spinal cord cavitation may have occurred and that AST-OPC1 may have had some positive effects in reducing spinal cord tissue deterioration.
The new Phase 1/2a clinical trial will be an open-label, single-arm study testing three escalating doses of AST-OPC1 in 13 patients with subacute, C5-C7, neurologically-complete cervical spinal cord injury. These individuals have essentially lost all sensation and movement below their injury site with severe paralysis of the upper and lower limbs. AST-OPC1 will be administered 14 to 30 days post-injury. Patients will be followed by neurological exams to assess the safety and activity of the product. Selection of the clinical trial sites is well underway and Asterias expects to begin patient enrollment during the first quarter of 2015.
The new clinical trial differs from the original clinical study in that doses up to 10 times higher will be tested. In addition, the trial will focus on patients with neurologically-complete cervical spinal cord injuries. Because of the anatomy of the spinal cord and the existence of more sensitive outcomes measures to assess movement of the arms and hands, it is currently believed that detection of efficacy is much more likely to occur in patients with cervical injuries. It is this patient population that Asterias anticipates will be the target for the first registration clinical trials of AST-OPC1. Asterias expects that the results of the Phase 1/2a clinical trial will provide support for a Phase 2b expansion study that will be conducted to more thoroughly demonstrate safety and efficacy of the product.
There are currently no approved therapies for the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI), and the complex pathology of the injury is unlikely to be addressed by a traditional small molecule or protein therapeutic. AST-OPC1, an oligodendrocyte progenitor population derived from human embryonic stem cells, has been shown to have three potentially reparative functions which address the complex pathologies observed at the SCI injury site. These activities of AST-OPC1 include production of neurotrophic factors, stimulation of vascularization, and induction of remyelination of denuded axons, all of which are critical for survival, regrowth and conduction of nerve impulses through axons at the injury site. In preclinical animal testing, AST-OPC1 administration led to remyelination of axons, improved hindlimb and forelimb locomotor function, dramatic reductions in injury-related cavitation and significant preservation of myelinated axons traversing the injury site.
BioTime is a biotechnology company engaged in research and product development in the field of regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine refers to therapies based on stem cell technology that are designed to rebuild cell and tissue function lost due to degenerative disease or injury. BioTime’s focus is on pluripotent stem cell technology based on human embryonic stem (“hES”) cells and induced pluripotent stem (“iPS”) cells. hES and iPS cells provide a means of manufacturing every cell type in the human body and therefore show considerable promise for the development of a number of new therapeutic products. BioTime’s therapeutic and research products include a wide array of proprietary PureStem® progenitors, HyStem® hydrogels, culture media, and differentiation kits. BioTime is developing Renevia™ (a HyStem® product) as a biocompatible, implantable hyaluronan and collagen-based matrix for cell delivery in human clinical applications, and is planning to initiate a pivotal clinical trial around Renevia™, in 2014. The HyStem®-based product Premvia™ is cleared by the FDA in the US for use in wound management. In addition, BioTime has developed Hextend®, a blood plasma volume expander for use in surgery, emergency trauma treatment and other applications. Hextend® is manufactured and distributed in the U.S. by Hospira, Inc. and in South Korea by CJ HealthCare Corporation, under exclusive licensing agreements.
BioTime is also developing stem cell and other products for research, therapeutic, and diagnostic use through its subsidiaries:
- Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. is developing pluripotent stem-cell based therapies in neurology and oncology, including AST-OPC1 oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and stroke, and AST-VAC2, an allogeneic dendritic cell-based cancer vaccine.
- BioTime Asia, Ltd., a Hong Kong company, may offer and sell products for research use for BioTime’s ESI BIO Division.
- Cell Cure Neurosciences Ltd. is an Israel-based biotechnology company focused on developing stem cell-based therapies for retinal and neurological disorders, including the development of retinal pigment epithelial cells for the treatment of macular degeneration, and treatments for multiple sclerosis.
- ESI BIO is the research and product marketing division of BioTime, providing stem cell researchers with products and technologies to enable them to translate their work into the clinic, including PureStem® progenitors and HyStem® hydrogels.
- LifeMap Sciences, Inc. markets, sells, and distributes GeneCards®, the leading human gene database, as part of an integrated database suite that also includes the LifeMap Discovery® database of embryonic development, stem cell research, and regenerative medicine, and MalaCards, the human disease database.
- LifeMap Solutions, Inc. is a subsidiary of LifeMap Sciences focused on developing mobile health (mHealth) products.
- OncoCyte Corporation is developing products and technologies to diagnose and treat cancer, including PanC-Dx™, with three clinical trials currently underway.
- OrthoCyte Corporation is developing therapies to treat orthopedic disorders, diseases and injuries.
- ReCyte Therapeutics, Inc. is developing therapies to treat a variety of cardiovascular and related ischemic disorders, as well as products for research using cell reprogramming technology.
Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on the emerging field of regenerative medicine. Asterias’ core technologies center on stem cells capable of becoming all of the cell types in the human body, a property called pluripotency. Asterias plans to develop therapies based on pluripotent stem cells to treat diseases or injuries in a variety of medical fields having major unmet needs and without adequate therapies available. Asterias initial focus is on two clinical stage programs including oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (AST-OPC1) for spinal cord injuries and antigen-presenting allogeneic dendritic cells (AST-VAC2) for lung cancer.
In October of 2013, Asterias acquired the cell therapy assets of Geron Corporation. These assets included INDs for the clinical stage AST-OPC1 and AST-VAC1 programs, banks of cGMP-manufactured AST-OPC1 drug product, cGMP master and working cell banks of human embryonic stem cells, over 400 patents and patent applications filed worldwide including broad issued claims to fundamental platform technologies for the scalable growth of pluripotent stem cells and compositions of matter for several hESC-derived therapeutic cell types, research cell banks, customized reagents and equipment, and various assets relating to the AST-VAC2 program and preclinical programs in cardiology and orthopedics.
Asterias Series A common stock is traded on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol ASTY. Additional information about Asterias can be found at www.asteriasbiotherapeutics.com.
Statements pertaining to future financial and/or operating results, future growth in research, technology, clinical development, and potential opportunities for BioTime and its subsidiaries, 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 BioTime and its subsidiaries, including Asterias, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in BioTime's and Asterias’ Securities and Exchange Commission filings. BioTime and Asterias disclaim any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
To receive ongoing BioTime corporate communications, please click on the following link to join our email alert list: http://news.biotimeinc.com.