Athersys Announces Grant to Support Clinical Advancement of Its MultiStem(R) Regenerative Medicine Program for Heart Attack

Athersys Announces Grant to Support Clinical Advancement of Its MultiStem(R)
Regenerative Medicine Program for Heart Attack Patients

Athersys Receives SBIR Fast Track Grant to Fund Phase 2 Clinical Trial of Its
Stem Cell Therapy for Acute Myocardial Infarction

CLEVELAND, Aug. 6, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX)
announced today that it has received a SBIR Fast Track grant from the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which will support a Phase 2 clinical study
evaluating the administration of MultiStem^® therapy to patients who have
suffered a heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The grant is
expected to provide up to $2.8 million in support over the course of the study
in connection with study progress and milestone achievement.

"We are pleased to receive this SBIR award as it will support us in moving our
AMI program forward into Phase 2 development," said Dr. Anthony Ting, Senior
Director of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary at Athersys. "The Phase 2 clinical
study will build on the promising results demonstrated previously in our AMI
Phase 1 trial completed in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, Columbia
University Medical Center, Henry Ford, and other leading cardiovascular
centers, and is intended to establish definitive proof-of-concept.We expect
to initiate the study early next year."

In January 2012, Circulation Research published results of Athersys' Phase 1
clinical study, which found that the administration of MultiStem was safe and
well tolerated in patients who had recently suffered an AMI and also suggested
that MultiStem can help improve heart function.Patients who exhibited
significant myocardial damage and received >50 million cells demonstrated
strong trends for improvement in both ejection fraction and left ventricular
stroke volume during the follow-up period, which, based on historical results,
are believed to correlate with improved clinical outcomes.

Previously published preclinical studies of MultiStem have shown that
administration of MultiStem can convey substantial therapeutic benefits
through multiple distinct mechanisms, such as protecting and preserving at
risk tissue in the heart, reducing inflammation, and promoting
revascularization over time.Studies in both rodent and porcine models of AMI
have shown meaningful improvements in cardiac function and increased capillary
density in the heart.

Acute myocardial infarction is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality
worldwide. A myocardial infarction occurs when the blood supply to the heart
is interrupted or diminished, leading to ischemic myocardial
tissue.Myocardial infarction is the leading cause of death in the United
States, with more than 1.25 million individuals suffering a heart attack each
year.Approximately 450,000 people in the United States die from coronary
disease each year.

This research will be supported by the National Heart, Lung, And Blood
Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

About MultiStem

MultiStem cell therapy is a patented regenerative medicine 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 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" regenerative
medicine therapy 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.

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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