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StemCells, Inc. to Provide Progress Report on Spinal Cord Injury Trial at the Interdependence 2012 Global SCI Conference Co-Sponsored by the Rick Hansen Institute and the Rick Hansen Foundation

NEWARK, Calif., May 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) today announced that Armin Curt, MD, FRCPC, Professor and Chairman, Spinal Cord Injury Center at the University of Zurich, and Medical Director of the Paraplegic Center at the Balgrist University Hospital and principal investigator for the Company's Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic spinal cord injury, will provide a progress report on the trial on Thursday, May 17 at the Interdependence 2012 Global SCI Conference. Interdependence 2012, which is being held in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 15-17, 2012, is jointly organized by the Rick Hansen Institute, a Canadian not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries, and the Rick Hansen Foundation.  

In addition, on Thursday, May 17, Stephen Huhn, MD, FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, Inc., will make a presentation on neural stem cell transplantation in neurological disorders.  Dr. Huhn will describe the scientific and preclinical rationale for the Company's extensive clinical development program which encompasses all three elements of the central nervous system – spinal cord, brain, and eye. StemCells was the first company to receive authorizations from the US Food and Drug Administration and Swissmedic to conduct clinical trials to evaluate purified human neural stem cells as potential therapeutic agents.   

The goal of Interdependence 2012 is to bring together international healthcare and research facilities to showcase their work through presentations, workshops and exhibits and discuss how to advance research, implement new best practices and shape the next generation of spinal cord injury research. 

About the Spinal Cord Injury 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 Company has dosed the first three patients all of whom have injuries classified as AIS A, in which there is no 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. 

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, and is open for enrollment to patients in Europe, Canada and the United States. 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 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 the Rick Hansen Institute

The Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) is a not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries (SCI).  Leading the collaboration of researchers, health care professionals and service providers, RHI has matched research leadership with government funding to facilitate one of the largest interdisciplinary spinal cord injury research programs in the world. The RHI was originally established by the Rick Hansen Foundation in 2003 as the SCI Solutions Network through generous public funding and private donations. The Network has since been re-named the Rick Hansen Institute, in honor of the man whose vision and leadership sparked its creation. For more information on the institute, please see www.rickhanseninstitute.org.

About the Rick Hansen Foundation

In 1987, following the Man In Motion World Tour (MIMWT), Rick established the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) to continue his quest for an accessible and inclusive society and a cure for spinal cord injury. Under Rick's leadership, RHF functions as a social innovator – finding collaborative solutions to challenges in the community and the resources necessary to implement those solutions. RHF has been successful in leveraging the original $26 million raised during the MIMWT to more than $245 million in support of people, programs and research in pursuit of a healthier and more inclusive world. As part of the 25th Anniversary campaign, the Rick Hansen Foundation has launched a national public fundraising campaign to support ongoing programs and initiatives.  For ways to get involved, or to make a donation, please visit www.rickhansen.com.

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. The Company recently reported results from a Phase I clinical trial in Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), a fatal myelination disorder in children. The trial results showed preliminary evidence of progressive and durable donor-derived myelination in all four patients transplanted with HuCNS-SC cells. The Company is also conducting a Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic spinal cord injury in Switzerland and has received authorization from the FDA to initiate a Phase I/II clinical trial in dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In addition, the Company is 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.  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, 2011, and in its subsequent reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K.

CONTACT: Rodney Young
         StemCells, Inc.
         Chief Financial Officer
         (510) 456-4128

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StemCells, Inc.