NEWARK, Calif., May 31, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (STEM) (the “Company”) today announced its decision to terminate the Company’s Phase II Pathway Study in spinal cord injury following an in-depth review of data from the study and after obtaining the concurrence of the study’s Interim Analysis Data Monitoring Committee (the “IA-DMC”). While the results showed overall improvement in patients treated with the Company’s proprietary cells, the magnitude of the effect and the perceived trend of the effect over time did not justify continuing the study or exploring the variability in the initial patient observations, given the financial resources available to the Company.
Seventeen patients have already been dosed in the Pathway Study. The first cohort of the Pathway Study, consisting of six patients, was designed to assess the safety, and preliminary signs of efficacy, of cell administration into the cervical cord and select the dose level for the 40-patient second cohort. The second cohort of the Pathway Study was a randomized, controlled and single-blinded arm of the trial in 40 motor complete patients.
The six-, nine- and twelve-month results from the first cohort of the Pathway Study revealed encouraging patterns of improvements from baseline, especially in the first six months of the study. This was confirmed separately by a review of the data by independent experts in spinal cord injury, who agreed that the overall results indicated evidence of biological activity. However, the Company observed in this cohort a declining trend in the magnitude of the effect in both strength and function at the twelve month time point. While the results at twelve months were still improved from baseline, this late variability led the Company to conduct an earlier‑than‑planned interim analysis of the Cohort II data. The results of this interim analysis, which were reviewed by the Company as well as by the IA-DMC, showed differences in motor strength that favored the treatment group, but the magnitude of the effect led both the Company and the IA-DMC to conclude that achieving the primary endpoint objective of the Pathway Study would be unlikely. Based upon these findings, the Company has decided to terminate the study and close out operations.
“Despite the outcome of the Pathway Study reported above, the Company is proud of our team’s numerous accomplishments and successes to date,” said Dr. Stephen Huhn, Chief Medical Officer and VP of Clinical Research. “Data from earlier clinical trials involving the Company’s proprietary HuCNS-SC® human neural stem cells have demonstrated an early signal of biological activity in multiple disease indications. Our earlier Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic thoracic spinal cord injury showed measureable gains, while the Phase I/II clinical trial in geographic atrophy showed a positive safety profile and favorable preliminary efficacy. Additionally, a Phase I study in children with Batten’s disease showed that transplantation of the cells into the brain was safe and resulted in long term survival of the cells.”
Dr. Huhn continued, “Even in the Pathway Study, we believe we see a biological signal in many of the patients. Equally important, the first cohort of the study also confirmed the safety of cell administration into the cervical cord. The collective human data we have generated across all of our studies reinforce our belief that our cells have an excellent safety profile and that there are neurological and retinal disorders with unmet need that may be helped by cell transplant. Unfortunately, the Company does not have the resources to implement changes in our development program to permit further investigation.”
“That we did not see significant recovery of motor functions in the Pathway Study is disappointing given the Company’s nearly complete restoration of motor and sensory functions with HuCNS-SC cells in spinal cord injured immunodeficient mice, the recovery of sensory responses in patients with thoracic spinal cord injury, and the many other encouraging clinical and preclinical studies with these cells,” added Dr. Irv Weissman, a Director and co-founder. “Given the collective strength of past data with these cells, we sincerely hope others will pick up the many questions we have about the variability of results seen in the Pathway Study. Naturally, over the next few weeks, we will endeavor to find a party able to continue the development of this very promising technology, which is so important not only for current and future patients with these devastating diseases, but also for the field of brain stem and progenitor cell therapies.”