FREMONT, Calif., Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST), a biotechnology company pioneering the field of regenerative medicine, today reported financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2016. In addition, the Company disclosed that there has been a recent acceleration in AST-OPC1 SCiStar study enrollment with three patients having been dosed over the past week. In addition to the previously completed dosing of the 2 million and 10 million cell AIS-A cohorts, Asterias has now treated two AIS-A patients with the maximum dose of 20 million AST-OPC1 cells and two AIS-B patients with 10 million AST-OPC1 cells.
The significant enrollment progress has also met requirements for an additional $2.5 million grant payment to the company under the Strategic Partnerships Award grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which provides $14.3 million of non-dilutive funding for the Phase 1/2a clinical trial and other product development activities for AST-OPC1.
AIS-A patients are characterized by cervical spinal cord injuries resulting in complete loss of motor and sensory function below the cervical injury site, while AIS-B patients have similar cervical injuries and complete motor loss but retain some sensory function. The company believes AIS-B patients may be particularly responsive to AST-OPC1 due to the larger amount of intact spinal tissue remaining in these patients at the injury site.
"Since mid-September, when we presented promising early data from AIS-A patients dosed with 10 million cells, our clinical team has continued to make excellent progress enrolling additional patients in the SCiStar study," said Steve Cartt, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We have now dosed two patients each in both the AIS-A 20 million cell cohort and the AIS-B 10 million cell cohort. The early efficacy data presented in September for AST-OPC1 was very encouraging, and we look forward to presenting the six-month efficacy and safety results for this cohort in January 2017. We also look forward to Dr. Kurpad and his patient joining our conference call this afternoon to share their experience with AST-OPC1."
Asterias management will be joined on the conference call by Shekar N. Kurpad, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurosurgery, Director, Spinal Cord Injury Center Medical College of Wisconsin and a clinical investigator for the SCiStar study. Dr. Kurpad will discuss his experience to date with AST-OPC1 at his institution, and will be joined on the call by one of his patients who received AST-OPC1.
Recent Research and Development Highlights
AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells)
- In August, the Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) for the SCiStar clinical study granted clearance to begin dosing a cohort of AIS-A patients with the highest dose of 20 million AST-OPC1 cells. The decision was based on the DMC's independent safety review of data from the 2 million cell and 10 million cell AIS-A cohorts.
- In September, Asterias presented positive efficacy data from the AIS-A 10 million cell cohort, including the following highlights:
- The efficacy target of 2 of 5 patients in the cohort achieving two motor levels of improvement on at least one side of their body had already been achieved.
- At Day 90 of follow up, 4 of 4 patients dosed had improved motor function on at least one side, 2 patients had improved one motor level on at least one side, with one improving two motor levels on one side, and one improving two motor levels on both sides.
- The average upper extremity motor scores (UEMS) improvement at Day 90 for the 4 patients that had reached this follow up was 9.5 points compared to 5.0 points at Day 90 for patients dosed with 2 million cells, which may also begin to support a dose dependent response.
- No serious adverse events related to AST-OPC1 have been observed to date.
- As suggested by existing research, patients with complete cervical spinal cord injuries that show two motor levels of improvement on at least one side may regain the ability to perform daily activities such as feeding, dressing and bathing. Meaningful improvement in motor function, particularly in the use of a patient's hands, fingers and arms, is critically important for a patient's quality of life and ability to function independently. Consistent with their improvements in motor level and UEMS, subjects in the SCiStar study have demonstrated improvements in their ability to independently perform activities of daily living including feeding themselves, drinking, texting, sending emails, and signing their names.
- In September, Asterias successfully dosed the first AIS-B patient with 10 million AST-OPC1 cells and has since enrolled an additional patient in this cohort. A total of 5-8 patients are expected to be enrolled in this cohort.
- In November, Asterias successfully dosed the first AIS-A patient with 20 million cells of AST-OPC1, triggering an additional $2.5 million payment to the company under its Strategic Partnerships Award grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and has since enrolled an additional patient in this cohort. A total of 5-8 patients are expected to be enrolled in this cohort.
AST-VAC1 (antigen-presenting autologous dendritic cells)
- Process development efforts continue on the AST-VAC1 program, in advance of a planned phase 2b trial in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), the most common form of acute leukemia in adults.
AST-VAC2 (antigen-presenting allogeneic dendritic cells)
- Current production scale pilot lots of AST-VAC2 have been successfully manufactured, triggering the initiation of clinical AST-VAC2 lots under current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) conditions in the fourth quarter 2016.
- Preparation of a regulatory dossier to support execution of a phase 1/2a clinical trial of AST-VAC2 in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma is underway, with submission to the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency (MHRA) planned early in the first quarter of 2017.
Third Quarter Financial Update
Total revenues were $2.1 million for the third quarter, and $5.2 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2016. Revenues were comprised of grant income as well as royalty revenues on product sales by licensees. Research and development expenses were $5.2 million for the third quarter and $17.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2016, with the primary driver being expenses associated with our AST-OPC1 program. General and administrative expenses were $4.2 million for the third quarter and $13.1 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2016. Non-cash expenses related to warrants distributed to shareholders earlier in the year and which were included in general and administrative expenses were $2.1 million for the third quarter and $5.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2016. Net loss was $10.6 million, or $0.24 per share, for the third quarter and $26.1 million, or $0.63 per share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2016. For the nine months ended September 30, 2016 net cash used in operating activities was $15.1 million and net cash provided from financing activities was $22.4 million.
As of September 30, 2016, the company's cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale securities totaled $33.9 million, which management believes will be sufficient to fund operations through the third quarter of 2017.
Conference Call and Webcast Details
Asterias will host a conference call and webcast today, November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern / 1:30 p.m. Pacific to discuss the results and corporate developments.
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