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Athersys closes $20 million stock purchase deal with Aspire Capital

A new common stock purchase agreement with Aspire Capital Fund LLC will give Cleveland biopharmaceutical company Athersys (NASDAQ:ATHX) up to $20 million in investment dollars. Chicago-based Aspire has committed to purchasing up to $20 million in Athersys common stock over the next two years, with Athersys controlling the timing and the amount of the purchases […]

A new common stock purchase agreement with Aspire Capital Fund LLC will give Cleveland biopharmaceutical company Athersys (NASDAQ:ATHX) up to $20 million in investment dollars.

Chicago-based Aspire has committed to purchasing up to $20 million in Athersys common stock over the next two years, with Athersys controlling the timing and the amount of the purchases to be granted at a “modest discount” to Aspire. At the closing of the deal, Aspire had already purchased $1 million in shares at $1.50 per share.

Athersys shares have dropped dramatically over the course of the last three months, trading at $1.37 at the time of publishing. But the company closed out its second quarter 2011 with $20 million in cash on its balance sheet.

“We have historically obtained capital through a combination of business partnerships, grant funding and equity financings,” Athersys President and COO B.J. Lehmann said in a statement. “This agreement provides us additional flexibility to sell shares at times and prices favorable to the company and will serve as a useful complement to our existing financing strategy.”

In September, Athersys outlined plans for a phase 2 clinical trial of its MultiStem program for ischemic stroke, which is currently enrolling patients and expected to be completed by November 2014. The company, along with partner Pfizer, is also in the middle of a phase 2 trial for MultiStem in inflammatory bowel disease patients, for which top-line data is expected by the end of 2012.

A press release on the deal notes that Athersys will continue advancing its MultiStem program into phase 2 development for indications including cardiovascular disease, neurological conditions and immune system disorders.

Amid the announcement of a new partnership, Athersys also announced the termination of a partnership with Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., with which it was co-developing its stem-cell therapy for acute myocardial infraction.

As a result of the “mutual termination,” Athersys has regained all the rights to its MultiStem cardiovascular program, which the company said will allow it greater flexibility in development and the opportunity to pursue new collaborations.

Athersys is scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings in a webcast this afternoon.

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