As I posted recently, Asterias Biotherapeutics has had good early safety results so far in its historic stem cell trial for spinal cord injury and now the company presented some early, encouraging hints at efficacy. However, a caveat here is that this is not an RCT (randomized controlled trial).
Ed Wirth, CMO of Asterias, presented the early data at the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society. You can take a look at the very interesting talk slides here. Asterias is a subsidiary of BioTime.
According to the press release (PR) from the company, while only 4 of 5 patients are 90 days or more after treatment, all patients have shown some improvement in motor function and a subset have a substantial improvement, meeting the target at this point. This trial is funded in part by CIRM so kudos to our state’s stem cell agency on this.
MIT Tech Review is on the story to for more background. I’ve also posted from Dr. Wirth’s PowerPoint the study design image below.
Bottom line. Overall, I think this development is encouraging. While still early in the clinical trial and drug testing process, the fact that there is a good safety profile and early indications of possible efficacy yield real hope. Still, it is important to be cautious in interpreting early data. We’ll all need to follow this trial and then look for future RCT results to clarify how promising this drug is overall in the long haul.
I’ve posted the key bullet points from the Asterias PR below the fold.