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StemCells, Inc. Completes Enrollment of First Cohort in Landmark Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Trial
Opens Enrollment to Patients in US and Canada

NEWARK, Calif., Dec. 15, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) announced today that the first cohort of the Company's Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic spinal cord injury have been successfully transplanted with the Company's proprietary HuCNS-SC® neural stem cells. This landmark clinical trial has a unique design, in which patients with progressively decreasing severity of injury will be treated in three sequential cohorts. The first cohort of patients all have spinal cord injury classified as AIS A, the most severe level identified by the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS).

"We are extremely pleased with our progress in this innovative trial," said Stephen Huhn MD, FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, Inc. "Having completed dosing of the AIS A cohort, screening for AIS B patients, who have a less severe, incomplete type of spinal cord injury, can now begin. Of course, our first priority is to assess safety in each patient, but we will also be evaluating trial patients for changes in sensation, motor and bowel/bladder function."  

"I am also pleased to announce," added Martin McGlynn, President and CEO, "that, in consultation with the clinical team at Balgrist Hospital, the Company has decided to open enrollment for the remainder of the trial to patients living in the United States and Canada. We have received a large number of inquiries from patients in both countries, and hopefully this decision will come as good news to the spinal cord injury community, who were greatly disappointed by Geron's recent decision to discontinue its spinal cord injury trial. We remain optimistic about the prospect of being able to demonstrate safety and clinical utility of our cells in this devastating condition, and are committed to funding our spinal cord injury program until such time as we can come up with a definitive outcome."

About the Clinical Trial

The Phase I/II clinical trial of StemCells, Inc.'s HuCNS-SC purified human adult neural stem cells is designed to assess both safety and preliminary efficacy. Twelve patients with thoracic (chest-level) neurological injuries at the T2-T11 level are planned for enrollment. The first three patients all have injuries classified as AIS A, in which there is no apparent neurological function below the injury level. The second and third cohorts will be patients classified as AIS B and AIS C, those with less severe injury, in which there is some preservation of sensory or motor function. In addition to assessing safety, the trial will assess preliminary efficacy based on defined clinical endpoints, such as changes in sensation, motor and bowel/bladder function. Prior to dosing the next cohort, data from previous cohorts will be reviewed by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee.

All patients will receive HuCNS-SC cells through direct transplantation into the spinal cord and will be temporarily immunosuppressed. Patients will be evaluated regularly in the post-transplant period in order to monitor and assess the safety of the HuCNS-SC cells, the surgery and the immunosuppression, as well as to measure any recovery of neurological function below the injury site. The Company intends to follow the effects of this therapy long-term, and a separate four-year observational study will be initiated at the conclusion of this trial. 

The trial is being conducted at Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, a world leading medical center for spinal cord injury and rehabilitation. For information on patient enrollment, interested parties may contact the study nurse either by phone at +41 44 386 39 01, or by email at stemcells.pz@balgrist.ch.

Additional information about the Company's spinal cord injury program can be found on the StemCells, Inc. website at http://www.stemcellsinc.com/Therapeutic-Programs/Clinical-Trials.htm and at http://www.stemcellsinc.com/Therapeutic-Programs/Spinal-Cord-Injury.htm, including video interviews with Company executives and independent collaborators.

About Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

According to a study reported by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, nearly 1.3 million people in the United States are estimated to be living with chronic spinal cord injury. The chronic phase of spinal cord injury is considered to begin when inflammation has stabilized and recovery has reached a plateau, which is typically several months following injury. Currently, there are no effective treatment options for patients with chronic spinal cord injury, and treatment approaches have generally targeted the acute and sub-acute time points, which are within hours or days of injury. Given the unmet need in chronic spinal cord injury, restoring some degree of function for patients at time points beyond the acute phase could have a transformative impact on the field. StemCells hopes to address a broad population of spinal cord-injured patients by opening the window of opportunity for therapeutic intervention well after the acute injury and targeting a wide range of injury levels and degrees of impairment. 

About Balgrist University Hospital

Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich is recognized worldwide as a highly specialized center of excellence providing examination, treatment and rehabilitation opportunities to patients with serious musculoskeletal conditions. The clinic owes its leading international reputation to its unique combination of specialized medical services. The hospital's carefully-balanced, interdisciplinary network brings together under one roof medical specialties including orthopedics, paraplegiology, radiology, anesthesiology, rheumatology, and physical medicine. More information about Balgrist University Hospital is available at www.balgrist.ch.

About StemCells, Inc.

StemCells, Inc. is engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of cell-based therapeutics and tools for use in stem cell-based research and drug discovery. The Company's lead therapeutic product candidate, HuCNS-SC® cells (purified human neural stem cells), is currently in development as a potential treatment for a broad range of central nervous system disorders. Clinical trials are currently underway in spinal cord injury and in Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), a fatal myelination disorder in children. In addition, the Company plans to file an IND by year-end 2011 to initiate a clinical trial of HuCNS-SC cells in the dry form of age-related macular degeneration, and is also pursuing preclinical studies of its HuCNS-SC cells in Alzheimer's disease. StemCells also markets stem cell research products including media and reagents, under the SC Proven®brand, and is developing stem cell-based assay platforms for use in pharmaceutical research, drug discovery and drug development. Further information about StemCells is available at http://www.stemcellsinc.com.  

The StemCells, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=7014

Apart from statements of historical fact, the text of this press release constitutes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and is subject to the safe harbors created therein. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the prospect of retaining continued authorization to conduct a clinical trial in Switzerland in chronic spinal cord injury; the prospect for screening and then enrolling patients into the AIS B and AIS C cohorts; the prospect for evaluating trial patients for changes in their sensation, motor and bowel/bladder function; the potential of the Company's HuCNS-SC cells to treat spinal cord injury and other central nervous system disorders; and the future business operations of the Company, including its ability to conduct clinical trials as well as its other research and product development efforts. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this news release. The Company does not undertake to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date hereof. Such statements reflect management's current views and are based on certain assumptions that may or may not ultimately prove valid. The Company's actual results may vary materially from those contemplated in such forward-looking statements due to risks and uncertainties to which the Company is subject, including the fact that additional trials will be required to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the Company's HuCNS-SC cells for the treatment of any disease or disorder; uncertainty as to whether the FDA or other applicable regulatory agencies will permit the Company to continue clinical testing in PMD, spinal cord injury or in future clinical trials of proposed therapies for other diseases or conditions given the novel and unproven nature of the Company's technologies; uncertainties regarding the ability of preclinical research, including research in animal models, to accurately predict success or failure in clinical trials; uncertainties regarding the Company's ability to recruit the patients required to conduct its clinical trials or to obtain meaningful results; uncertainties regarding the Company's ability to obtain the increased capital resources needed to continue its current and planned research and development operations; uncertainty as to whether HuCNS-SC and any products that may be generated in the future in the Company's cell-based programs will prove safe and clinically effective and not cause tumors or other adverse side effects; uncertainties regarding the Company's ability to commercialize a therapeutic product and its ability to successfully compete with other products on the market; and other factors that are described under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, and in its subsequent reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K.

CONTACT: Rodney Young
         Chief Financial Officer
         (510) 456-4128

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StemCells, Inc.