UPDATE 1-Athersys stem-cell therapy for bowel disease fails in trial

Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:32am EDT

(Adds details, updates stock movement)

April 28 (Reuters) - Athersys Inc said its experimental stem-cell therapy for treating an inflammatory bowel disease failed to show any meaningful benefit in early results from a trial, sending its shares plunging 57 percent before the bell.

The mid-stage trial, conducted by Athersys's partner Pfizer Inc, did not show a statistically significant reduction in the severity of the disease and rectal bleeding, compared to a placebo after 8 weeks of treatment.

The trial enrolled 88 patients with moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease that causes inflammation and sores in the lining of the large intestine.

The stem-cell therapy, known as MultiStem, is derived from adult bone marrow or other tissue sources and is designed to reduce inflammation and protect and heal damaged tissue.

MultiStem was being tested in patients with ulcerative colitis who have become resistant, intolerant or unresponsive to other therapies.

Athersys said the therapy was safe and well tolerated.

The company said it would later release trial data from patients receiving a second round of dosing.

Athersys is also testing the treatment in patients with certain heart diseases, immune disorders and neurological disorders.

The company's shares were down nearly 53 percent at $1.29 in premarket trade. They closed at $2.73 on the Nasdaq on Friday. (Reporting by Esha Dey and Vrinda Manocha in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)