More MS news articles for August 2002

ViaCell Obtains Exclusive Worldwide License to Novel Protein for Use in Treatment of Stroke Recovery and Other Neurological and Neuromuscular Disorders

Dimerized Fibroblast Growth Factor (dFGF) Shows Potential to Enhance Neurological Recovery After Stroke

Aug. 14, 2002

ViaCell Inc., a premier cellular therapy company, announced that it has obtained an exclusive worldwide license for dimerized fibroblast growth factor (dFGF), a novel protein developed by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), with applications for the treatment of stroke and other neurological disorders. ViaCell Neuroscience, a subsidiary of ViaCell, will initially develop dFGF as a product to enhance functional recovery in patients who have suffered a stroke.

Marc Beer, ViaCell's chairman and chief executive officer, stated, "Our team at ViaCell Neuroscience is committed to the development of new stem cell and stem cell stimulating therapies to treat neurological diseases.  We are very encouraged by the development of dFGF, which represents a major advance in our potential to treat stroke and numerous other neurological disorders."

ViaCell Neuroscience's exclusive license includes rights to intellectual property covering dFGF and its use in treatment of all neurological disorders, including stroke.  These patents are based on inventions of Ram Sasisekharan, Ph.D., professor in the department of bioengineering and environmental health at M.I.T.

"We believe that this growth factor may prove to be a very important contributor in ongoing research to develop effective therapies to treat neurological diseases," said Dr. Sasisekharan.

Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are a family of proteins in the human body responsible for the proliferation and survival of cell types that comprise the bulk of living cells in many tissues, including brain, vascular system, and muscle.  Dimerized fibroblast growth factor (dFGF) is a novel combination of two subunits of FGF protein that have been linked together. Over the past 15 months, a team of researchers at ViaCell Neuroscience has found that the intravenous administration of dFGF markedly enhances neurological recovery in an animal model of stroke, even when given a day or more after the event has occurred.  The effect is most likely due to stimulation of endogenous stem cells within the brain.

"The results to date are very encouraging," said Seth Finklestein, M.D., head of ViaCell Neuroscience and vice president of ViaCell, Inc.  "We believe dFGF is an important protein that has the potential to be a breakthrough therapy for stroke and other neurological disorders."

Development of dFGF therapies will be conducted at the ViaCell research and development facility in Worcester, MA, under the direction of Dr. Finklestein.  Prior to joining ViaCell, Dr. Finklestein served as an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and was also associate neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital for more than 12 years.  He continues his clinical activities at Massachusetts General Hospital.

While the effects of stroke can be devastating, there are no treatments available today to enhance patient recovery.  The only approved therapy for treating stroke is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) which has been shown to be useful in minimizing the initial damage from stroke.  However, treatment must be administered within three hours of stroke onset.

"With dFGF, we have the potential to provide an entirely new therapy for stroke patients, namely the administration of a treatment days or even weeks after a stroke has occurred, in order to improve neurological function and quality of life," said Dr. Finklestein.

Stroke or "brain attack" is a clot (ischemia) or hemorrhage in the brain that frequently results in damage to brain tissue.  Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 160,000 Americans each year.  An additional 590,000 Americans experience and survive a new or recurrent stroke each year; two-thirds of these patients live with moderate to severe paralysis, or speech, vision, or memory loss.  There are four million stroke survivors in the U.S.  The National Stroke Association estimates that stroke costs the United States $30 billion annually.

About ViaCell, Inc.

ViaCell, Inc. ( is a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a cellular medicine pipeline that focuses in the areas of cancer, neurological diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy. ViaCell offers umbilical cord blood stem cell preservation services through Viacord (, a subsidiary of ViaCell.  ViaCell is developing amplified, high-definition stem cell products based on its patented technology, Selective Amplification(TM), for the expansion of targeted populations of stem cells.  ViaCell is currently conducting a Phase I clinical trial with its lead product, produced through Selective Amplification(TM). ViaCell Neuroscience, a subsidiary of ViaCell, is committed to the development of new molecular and cellular treatments to prolong life and restore function in neurological diseases, including stroke, head trauma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), genetic enzyme deficiencies and muscular dystrophy, among others.

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including the statements regarding the anticipated properties of dimerized fibroblast growth factor and its potential to treat neurological diseases.  These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in these forward-looking statements.  These risks and uncertainties include, among others, the risk that this growth factor may not be an effective treatment for neurological diseases in humans; that we will not be able to enroll sufficient numbers of patients in our clinical trials; that our clinical trials will not demonstrate that our products are both safe and more effective than current standards of care; that we are unable to obtain the regulatory approvals necessary to conduct clinical trials or to market products; that we fail to adequately protect our intellectual property, are unable to license additional intellectual property rights on reasonable terms, or are determined to infringe upon the intellectual property of others; and the factors contained under the caption "Risk Factors" in our registration statement on Form S-1 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 25, 2002.  We caution investors not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this press release.  These statements speak only as of the date of this release, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the statements, except as may be required by law.  
SOURCE ViaCell, Inc.

Copyright © 1996-2002 PR Newswire Association LLC