Asterias stem cell clinical trials continue on; no ground-breaking results yet

Asterias Biotherapeutics announced last week that it has now completed injection of stem cells in 25 patients with C-4 to C-7 levels of injury who have reported no serious side effects and that in more than 90 percent of the patients, the cells appear to show signs of engraftment.

Including the five subjects from the study initially led by Geron Corp., that makes 30 subjects injected with anywhere from 2 million to 20 million stem cells.

Thus far, the early results are pointing toward improvements in upper extremity motor function, with 75% reporting improvement of one motor level and 20% with two motor levels.  It means that a lot of work still remains in finding ways to create significant improvements in function for the SCI population.

The Asterias trials are funded by a $14.3 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).  It has invested over $61 million thus far in SCI research with Asterias receiving the largest portion.  The agency has already awarded over $2.5 billion of its $3 billion budget across various other studies.