MENLO PARK, Calif., May 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST), a leading biotechnology company in the emerging field of regenerative medicine, today announced the promotion of Edward D. Wirth, III, M.D., Ph.D., to the newly created role of Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Wirth was Chief Translational Officer since joining Asterias in March 2013.
In his new role, Dr. Wirth will become an executive officer of the Company and provide strategic leadership for Asterias' clinical development activities including its two therapeutic programs, AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells) for spinal cord injuries and AST-VAC2 (antigen-presenting allogeneic dendritic cells) for lung cancer.
"Ed is a world-renowned expert in spinal cord injury (SCI) and regenerative medicine, and has been instrumental in the advancement of the clinical program for AST-OPC1 through the early stages of development," said Pedro Lichtinger, President and CEO of Asterias. "Since joining Asterias, Ed's depth and breadth of expertise have proven to be a tremendous asset. Given his industry experience and significant accomplishments, Ed is the ideal person to lead us through the next stage of clinical development for AST-OPC1, which is currently in a Phase 1/2a clinical trial to evaluate the cell therapy in treating sensory and motor complete cervical SCI. He will now also lead planning for the clinical development of AST-VAC2, our novel immunotherapy cancer vaccine targeting telomerase, which is expressed in over 95 percent of cancers but is rarely expressed in normal adult cells."
Dr. Wirth has dedicated more than the last 20 years of his life to studying the crucial role that cell therapies may play in helping patients with devastating and irreversible SCIs. Prior to joining Asterias, Dr. Wirth served as Chief Science Officer at InVivo Therapeutics Corporation from 2011 to 2012. Previously, Dr. Wirth served as Medical Director for Regenerative Medicine at Geron Corporation from 2004 to 2011, where he led the world's first clinical trial of a human embryonic stem cell-derived product, AST-OPC1 (formerly GRNOPC1) in patients with subacute spinal cord injuries. Prior to his work with Geron, Dr. Wirth held appointments at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center and at the University of Chicago. From 1997 to 2002, Dr. Wirth led the team at the University of Florida that performed the first human embryonic spinal cord tissue transplants in the U.S., demonstrating the feasibility and safety of implanting embryonic spinal cord cells into patients.
About Asterias Biotherapeutics
Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST) is a leading biotechnology company in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. The Company's core technologies center on pluripotent stem cells, which are characterized by the ability to become all cell types in the human body. Asterias is focused on developing therapies based on pluripotent stem cells to treat diseases or serious injuries in several medical areas where there is high unmet medical need and without adequate available therapies. Asterias' two therapeutic programs, AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells) for spinal cord injuries and AST-VAC2 (antigen-presenting allogeneic dendritic cells) for lung cancer, are based on the Company's proprietary technology platforms of Pluripotent Stem Cells and Allogeneic Dendritic Cell Immunotherapy, respectively. AST-OPC1 is currently in a Phase 1/2a clinical trial. Additional information about Asterias can be found at www.asteriasbiotherapeutics.com.
Forward Looking Statements
Statements pertaining to future financial and/or operating results, future growth in research, technology, clinical development, and potential opportunities for Asterias, along with other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans, or prospects expressed by management constitute forward-looking statements. Any statements that are not historical fact (including, but not limited to statements that contain words such as "will," "believes," "plans," "anticipates," "expects," "estimates") should also be considered to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and/or commercialization of potential products, uncertainty in the results of clinical trials or regulatory approvals, need and ability to obtain future capital, and maintenance of intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements and as such should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect the businesses of Asterias, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in Asterias' filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Asterias disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
SOURCE Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc.