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ALS Therapy Development Institute and California Stem Cell, Inc. Announce Long-Term Scientific Collaboration

Bi-coastal collaboration aimed at applying stem cell technology to an 'orphan disease' in a unique translational research setting

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and IRVINE, Calif., July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) and California Stem Cell, Inc. (CSC) announced today a new collaboration aimed at advancing any potential application of stem cells in treating ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's diseases. The new set of experiments will begin in August 2008 and continue through the end of 2009. This effort is the latest in the two groups' on-going partnership to understand how stem cells, and their derivatives, may be used as part of a therapeutic strategy to treat or cure the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

"It is no mystery to us in the ALS community that stem cells ought to be looked at and considered by researchers. The work we are doing together with California Stem Cell will help to make sure that we are leaving no stone unturned in our mission to discover and develop an effective treatment that will slow or stop ALS," said Sean Scott, president of ALS TDI.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in progressive paralysis and is considered fatal. The disease strikes typically without an identifiable cause, indiscriminately affecting a new family every 90 minutes in the U.S. That incidence rate is similar to that of multiple sclerosis, but the typical survival prognosis given to a new ALS patient is only 2-5 years from their date of diagnosis. Currently, there is no known cure for ALS and only one FDA-approved drug, with marginal efficacy, for treating the disease.

"ALS TDI is a natural partner. Their expertise in preclinical research focused on ALS is unparalleled. With ALS TDI we have access to a dedicated and passionate group of experts that can help to fully understand how stem cell derived products may play a role in a potential therapeutic for this horrible disease," said Chris Airriess, chief operating officer for California Stem Cell, Inc.

California Stem Cell recently presented the findings from the two groups' previous collaboration during the International Society for Stem Cell Research annual meeting June 11th in Philadelphia. In that experiment, the two groups worked together to design and execute experiments aimed at transplanting high purity motor neurons developed and manufactured by CSC, into the spinal cords of mice with neuronal loss at ALS TDI.

The collaborations between ALS TDI and CSC are funded in part through a major, three-year, $18 million funding and scientific partnership ALS TDI entered into at the beginning of 2007 with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and its Augie's Quest Initiative.

About the ALS Therapy Development Institute

The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) (, based in Cambridge, Mass., operates the world's largest research and development program focused exclusively on ALS. At ALS TDI, a staff of over 30 scientists and research technicians work on behalf of ALS patients to discover and advance novel therapeutics for treating and ultimately curing ALS. The nonprofit biotechnology institute excels in identifying novel disease targets, discovering compounds that may act against these targets, and screening potential treatments for clinical development.

About Augie's Quest

Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto started Augie's Quest ( in conjunction with MDA's ALS Division. Nieto is co-founder and former president of Life Fitness of Chicago, and chairman of Octane Fitness. He and his wife, Lynne, serve as co-chairpersons of MDA's ALS Division. Nieto received a diagnosis of ALS in March 2005.

About MDA

MDA ( is the world's largest provider of ALS services and funder of ALS research. Over the years, it has expended almost $210 million in this effort. It operates 225 neuromuscular disease clinics across the country and 38 ALS-specific research and care centers.

CONTACT: Robert Goldstein of ALS TDI, +1-617-441-7295,; or Chris Airriess of California Stem Cell, +1-949-534-9149,

SOURCE ALS Therapy Development Foundation
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