NIAID awards NeoStem second year of research grant

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded NeoStem, Inc., a cellular therapeutic developer, a second year of a two-year, $595,252 grant to develop stem cells to counteract radiation exposure.

The award funds studies to investigate the potential of very small embryonic-like stem cells to act as a countermeasure to nuclear and radiological incidents. NeoStem's product candidate uses a patient's own stem cells to rescue them from radiation exposure due to terrorist threat or nuclear accident.

"NeoStem is pleased that the NIAID is continuing to fund this cutting edge technology that we hope will reinvent the treatment landscape for acute radiation syndrome," Robin Smith, the chairman and CEO of NeoStem, said. "We also expect to file an (investigational new drug application) with the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) in late 2013 or early 2014 to initiate a (National Institutes of Health) funded human clinical study treating periodontitis with VSELs."

The grant included $295,252 for the first year and $300,000 for the second year. The technology behind the VSELs may also have applications for cancer patients who have undergone radiation therapy.

"We are very pleased that our research has met its interim requirements and been awarded its second year of funding," Denis Rodgerson, the director of stem cell science for NeoStem, said. "Those exposed to acute high-dose radiation have compromised immune systems such that the virulence and infectivity of biological agents is dramatically increased. Death can occur within one to six weeks following radiation exposure. Currently, there is only one intervention that saves a fatally irradiated person - a rescue through stem cell transplantation. VSELs might be an ideal cell therapy to regenerate the body's immune system and repair other tissues damaged by radiation exposure. Most importantly, early studies show VSELs are resistant to lethal radiation which destroys other immune system restoring stem cells in the body, making autologous treatment post-exposure possible."

NeoStem is a developer of novel proprietary cell therapy products that also operates as a contract development and manufacturing organization.

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