By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Inc., which is developing adult stem cell technologies, said on Sunday it is collaborating with New Jersey’s Rutgers University to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.
Separately, a market source said there were rumours that BrainStorm BCLI.OB is seeking to make an acquisition.
The company’s president, Chaim Lebovits, told Reuters that BrainStorm is in negotiations for acquisitions and mergers but could not give details.
The company’s shares traded over the counter rose 15 percent on Friday.
BrainStorm is seeking to be the first to market with stem cell treatments for neurological disorders.
Unlike researchers experimenting with embryonic stem cells, an issue that has stoked controversy, BrainStorm uses stem cells taken from the bone marrow of adults.
Until now, BrainStorm has been focusing its research and development on Parkinson’s disease as well as amyelotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neurone disease.
Spinal cord injuries cause damage to the fibre tracts that carry sensation and motor signals to and from the brain.
The Rutgers study combined with BrainStorm’s differentiation process uses stem cells from human bone marrow that are expanded and induced to secrete neurotrophic factors.
BrainStorm said preliminary evidence has indicated that transplantation of stem cells from differentiated human bone marrow improved motor behaviour of subjects in animal studies.
"Rutgers’ knowledge with spinal cord injuries, and BrainStorm’s promising and unique technologies, are expected to advance the treatments to individuals with spinal cord injuries," said Martin Grumet, director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, who leads the research team at Rutgers.
There are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 spinal cord injuries every year in the United States. A quarter of a million Americans are currently living with spinal cord injuries and the cost of managing the care of such patients approaches $4 billion each year. (Editing by Steven Scheer)