Researchers have found that the Athersys stem cell product, MultiStem, has been effective in preventing rejection in organ transplant patients. The drug might someday eliminate the need for transplant recipients to take a life-long regime of immunosuppressant drugs that have potentially detrimental side effects.
Athersys has been developing MultiStem for the past six to eight years. The company developed the drug from human stem cells harvested from adult bone marrow. Potentially millions of doses of MultiStem can be created from one donor.
Researchers found that when MultiStem was used in animal heart transplants, permanent organ acceptance was achieved without the need for long-term immunosuppressants. Researchers in Germany are now moving into human trials with liver transplant patients using MultiStem and short-term immunosuppressants.
“This is pretty important for the field of transplantation,” says Athersys president and COO B.J. Lehmann. “Using MultiStem just after transplant allows the body to recognize the organ its own. If we can do this in humans it will change the way to do transplants today.”
MultiStem has proven effective in treatments for heart attacks, strokes and graft versus host disease. “This is just another example of the effect MultiStem therapy has,” says Lehmann. “Our goal is to develop cell therapy in areas where there is substantial need. We wanted to change the game, and this is a perfect example.”
Source: B.J. Lehmann
Writer: Karin Connelly