SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/07/12 -- VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCBB: VSTA) (OTCQB: VSTA), a biotechnology company applying stem cell technology for drug rescue, predictive toxicology and drug metabolism screening, and Duke University, one of the country's premier academic research institutions, announced that results of their collaboration were presented yesterday at the American Heart Association 2012 Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles.
The presentation, entitled "Human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiac tissue patch with advanced structure and function," highlighted the important synergistic interactions of VistaGen's stem cell-derived human cardiomyocytes (heart cells) and Duke's tissue engineering and analytical technologies. The research, which expands the scope of VistaGen's drug rescue capabilities focused on heart toxicology, was led at Duke by Dr. Nenad Bursac, Associate Professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Cardiology, and at VistaGen by Dr. Ralph Snodgrass, President and Chief Scientific Officer.
The high-quality and purity of VistaGen's cardiomyocytes, together with Dr. Bursac's innovative tissue engineering technologies, enabled the development of novel methods of engineering three-dimensional (3D) cardiac tissues and unique in vitro systems for studying the maturation and electromechanical function of human cardiac muscle. These technologies provide novel in vitro tools for evaluating drug effects, positive and negative, on human cardiac tissues.
"I am very excited by the opportunities created and results we have achieved by combining our stem cell-based cardiomyocyte technologies and expertise with Dr. Bursac's leading-edge tissue engineering team at Duke," stated Dr. Snodgrass. "This important collaboration further demonstrates the quality and functionality of our pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, and suggests potential new tools for our cardiac drug rescue program, while also highlighting the potential therapeutic applications for our combined technologies."
"VistaGen's human cardiomyocytes produced engineered cardiac tissues that exhibited functional properties far superior to those previously reported," said Dr. Bursac. "These superior properties offer exciting new opportunities to develop novel electrical and mechanical tools to guide and evaluate our tissue engineering design of functional bioartificial muscle for stem cell-based therapies aimed at treating heart disease and injury, as well as cardiac arrhythmias."
About Dr. Bursac
Dr. Bursac, Associate Professor in the Departments of Cardiology and Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, is a leader in the field of cardiac tissue engineering and cell-based therapies in which different cells, either alone or in combination with therapeutic molecules or biomaterials, can be transplanted into the human body to restore function of damaged or diseased organs. Dr. Bursac's research has additional applications in the fields of cardiac electrophysiology and in vitro drug screening. Over the last five years, Dr. Bursac's lab has developed and validated novel bioengineered model systems and experimental tools that are providing a more detailed understanding of normal and abnormal heart muscle development and function, the intricate processes of cardiomyogenesis and the potential of stem cell-based tissue engineering therapies for the treatment of different heart muscle diseases, cardiac infarction and arrhythmias.
About VistaGen Therapeutics
VistaGen is a biotechnology company applying human pluripotent stem cell technology for drug rescue, predictive toxicology and drug metabolism screening. VistaGen's drug rescue activities combine its human pluripotent stem cell technology platform, Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube, with modern medicinal chemistry to generate new chemical variants (Drug Rescue Variants) of once-promising small-molecule drug candidates. These are drug candidates discontinued by pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) or university laboratories after substantial investment and development due to heart or liver toxicity or metabolism issues. VistaGen uses its pluripotent stem cell technology to generate early indications, or predictions, of how humans will ultimately respond to new drug candidates before they are ever tested in humans, bringing human biology to the front end of the drug development process.
Additionally, VistaGen's small molecule drug candidate, AV-101, is completing Phase 1 development for treatment of neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain, a serious and chronic condition causing pain after an injury or disease of the peripheral or central nervous system, affects millions of people worldwide. To date, VistaGen has been awarded over $8.5 million from the NIH for development of AV-101.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward Looking Statements
The statements in this press release that are not historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements that are based on current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual future results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. Those risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks related to the success of VistaGen's research collaboration with Duke University, its stem cell technology-based predictive toxicology and metabolism screening and drug rescue activities, its AV-101 Phase 1 clinical program, its ability to enter into predictive toxicology, metabolism screening and/or drug rescue collaborations and/or licensing arrangements with respect to one or more drug rescue variants, risks and uncertainties relating to the availability of substantial additional capital to support its research, drug rescue, development and commercialization activities, and the success of its research and development plans and strategies, including those plans and strategies related to AV-101 and any drug rescue variant identified and developed by VistaGen. These and other risks and uncertainties are identified and described in more detail in VistaGen's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These filings are available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. VistaGen undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.