Publications Demonstrate Relevance of MultiStem(R) for Autoimmune Disease, Transplantation and Vascular Disease

Publications Demonstrate Relevance of MultiStem(R) for Autoimmune Disease,
Transplantation and Vascular Disease

Collaborative Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research Conducted by
Athersys and Colleagues at Pfizer, King's College, London and Oregon Health
Sciences University

CLEVELAND, April 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX)
announced today the recent publication of articles in two peer-reviewed
scientific journals, Journal of Immunology and Circulation, that describe the
potential for multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPC^®s), or MultiStem^®
cells, to provide benefit in autoimmune disease and in peripheral vascular
disease (PVD), respectively. The articles also describe specific biological
mechanisms by which this cell therapy delivers benefit in these areas and
illustrate the strong scientific foundation supporting MultiStem cell therapy.
These findings may support clinical investigation in these areas and represent
important, additional commercial opportunities for the company's MultiStem
franchise.

The Journal of Immunology article (April 1, 2013, epub ahead of print),
authored by scientists at King's College, London, Pfizer Inc. and Athersys,
describes the results of a study using allogeneic islet transplantation (an
approach for treating Type 1 diabetes) as a model to assess the ability of
MultiStem cells to control the T cell responses that play an important role in
autoimmune disease and allograft rejection. The MultiStem cells suppressed T
cell proliferation and Th1 and Th17 cytokine production, increased
anti-inflammatory IL-10 production, suppressed autoreactive T cell activity,
and supported the proliferation of regulatory T cells, which resulted in
durable control of potentially damaging inflammatory T cells. Aberrant T cell
activity contributes significantly to a number of inflammatory and
immune-mediated conditions, including Type 1 diabetes, graft-versus-host
disease, solid organ transplantation, inflammatory bowel disease, and other
autoimmune diseases, such as scleroderma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Circulation article (2013; 127:710-719), authored by investigators at the
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) together with scientists from
Athersys, describes the results of a study using advanced imaging technologies
to evaluate the administration of MultiStem cell therapy in a rodent hind-limb
ischemia model.Ultrasound imaging of the ischemic limb following MAPC
treatment showed more complete recovery of blood flow and greater expansion of
microvascular blood volume in MAPC-treated animals.In addition, the study
confirmed that this effect was in part related to endothelial activation and
enhanced recruitment of endogenous proangiogenic cells resulting from the MAPC
treatment.Critical limb ischemia (CLI), an advanced from of PVD, is
characterized by severe decline of blood flow causing persistent and severe
pain in the lower extremities and eventually leads to ulcerations and gangrene
resulting in amputations and a significant death rate.CLI may affect more
than five million people in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and this is expected
to increase with an aging population and the growing prevalence of diabetes.

"These publications further illustrate the mechanisms through which MultiStem
therapy may provide benefit to patients," said Dr. Robert Deans, Executive
Vice President of Regenerative Medicine at Athersys."These latest results
further confirm that MultiStem cells are not one dimensional – they have the
capacity to act in a dynamic manner and convey therapeutic effects through
multiple modes of action depending on the disease or condition.This is a
central paradigm that distinguishes cell therapy from single modality drugs
and biologics, and represents an important potential advancement in the
treatment of disease."

Since 2012, Athersys researchers and investigators at collaborating
institutions have published seven articles in quality peer-reviewed journals,
further describing the MultiStem cells' mechanisms of action and potential
applications, as well as the breadth and quality of its third party research
collaborations.

About MultiStem

MultiStem^® cell therapy is a patented product that has shown the ability to
promote tissue repair and healing in a variety of ways, such as through the
production of multiple therapeutic factors produced in response to signals of
inflammation and tissue damage.MultiStem has demonstrated therapeutic
potential for the treatment of inflammatory and immune disorders, neurological
conditions, and cardiovascular disease, as well as other areas, and represents
a unique "off-the-shelf" stem cell product that can be manufactured in a
scalable manner, may be stored for years in frozen form, and is administered
without tissue matching or the need for immune suppression.The product is
extensively characterized for safety, consistency and potency.Athersys has
forged strategic partnerships with Pfizer Inc. to develop MultiStem for
inflammatory bowel disease and with RTI Biologics, Inc. to develop cell
therapy for use with a bone allograft product in the orthopedic market.

About Athersys

Athersys is a clinical stage biotechnology company engaged in the discovery
and development of therapeutic product candidates designed to extend and
enhance the quality of human life.The Company is developing its MultiStem^®
cell therapy product, a patented, adult-derived "off-the-shelf" stem cell
product platform for disease indications in the cardiovascular, neurological,
inflammatory and immune disease areas. The Company currently has several
clinical stage programs involving MultiStem, including for treating
inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic stroke, damage caused by myocardial
infarction, and for the prevention of graft versus host disease. Athersys has
also developed a diverse portfolio that includes other technologies and
product development opportunities, and has forged strategic partnerships and
collaborations with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as
well as world-renowned research institutions in the United States and Europe
to further develop its platform and products. More information is available at
www.athersys.com.

The Athersys, Inc. logo is available at
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=4548

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of
the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve risks and
uncertainties. These forward-looking statements relate to, among other things,
the expected timetable for development of our product candidates, our growth
strategy, and our future financial performance, including our operations,
economic performance, financial condition, prospects, and other future events.
We have attempted to identify forward-looking statements by using such words
as "anticipates," "believes," "can," "continue," "could," "estimates,"
"expects," "intends," "may," "plans," "potential," "should," "suggest,"
"will," or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are
only predictions and are largely based on our current expectations. A number
of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors could affect the
accuracy of these statements. Some of the more significant known risks that we
face that could cause actual results to differ materially from those implied
by forward-looking statements are the risks and uncertainties inherent in the
process of discovering, developing, and commercializing products that are safe
and effective for use as human therapeutics, such as the uncertainty regarding
market acceptance of our product candidates and our ability to generate
revenues, including MultiStem for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease,
acute myocardial infarction, stroke and other disease indications, including
traumatic brain injury, and the prevention of graft-versus-host disease. These
risks may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance, or
achievements to differ materially from any future results, levels of activity,
performance, or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking
statements. Other important factors to consider in evaluating our
forward-looking statements include: our ability to raise additional capital;
final results from our MultiStem clinical trials including for ischemic
stroke; the possibility of delays in, adverse results of, and excessive costs
of the development process; our ability to successfully initiate and complete
clinical trials; changes in external market factors; changes in our industry's
overall performance; changes in our business strategy; our ability to protect
our intellectual property portfolio; our possible inability to realize
commercially valuable discoveries in our collaborations with pharmaceutical
and other biotechnology companies; our ability to meet milestones under our
collaboration agreements; our collaborators' ability to continue to fulfill
their obligations under the terms of our collaboration agreements; our
possible inability to execute our strategy due to changes in our industry or
the economy generally; changes in productivity and reliability of suppliers;
and the success of our competitors and the emergence of new competitors. You
should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements contained in
this press release, and we undertake no obligation to publicly update
forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future
events or otherwise.

CONTACT: William (B.J.) Lehmann, J.D.
         President and Chief Operating Officer
         Tel: (216) 431-9900
         bjlehmann@athersys.com
        
         Investor Relations:
         Lisa M. Wilson
         In-Site Communications
         Tel: (917) 543-9932
         lwilson@insitecony.com

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