Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Athersys CEO Buys Shares

On March 8th I discussed Athersys (ATHX) and its seemingly unreasonable valuation disparity in comparison to Australian stem cell company, Mesoblast (MEOBF). Since then Mesoblast partner, Cephalon, has become an acquisition target and Mesoblast's market cap now exceeds $2,100,000,000. In addition, Athersys Chairman and CEO Gil Van Bokkelen has commenced purchasing ATHX shares. On March 25th, he purchased 10,000 shares at $2.50 and on March 31st he filled an additional 8,200 shares at $2.81 as the shares continue to rise.

Some may argue that the purchases are small and insignificant. However, considering that Mr. Van Bokkelen already owned 195,000 shares prior to these purchases, I'd say these purchases deserve a little more weight. Although I do not KNOW how significant this position is to Mr. Van Bokkelen's financial situation he does have his career tied to this company. The timing of these purchases is also interesting. According to the Athersys 10K, results from an important Phase I clinical trial will be released this quarter:

To date, we have advanced four programs to
clinical development stage, including:

An ongoing Phase I clinical study involving administration of MultiStem to patients suffering from leukemia or certain other blood-borne cancers, in which patients undergo radiation therapy and then receive a hematopoietic stem cell, or HSC, transplant. Such patients are at risk for serious complications, including graft versus host disease, or GVHD, which is an imbalance of immune system function caused by transplanted immune cells that attack various tissues and organs in the patient. In January 2011, we announced that we had successfully completed enrollment for the single ascending dose portion of this clinical trial and expect to announce preliminary results in the second quarter of 2011. In addition, the multiple ascending dose portion of this study is ongoing.

If you want to learn more about Graft versus Host disease follow this link. Athersys believes its MultiStem product will eliminate rejection risks often associated with stem cell transplants, likening MultiStem to universal Type O blood. If MultiStem works, it would be a huge advancement, but be cautioned, as this a only a Phase I trial.

Of course, there is no guarantee of positive results but one tried and true phrase comes to mind in a situations like this:

"Follow the $Money$"

These are the personal opinions of Wall Street Titan's Small Cap Investor, do your own due diligence.

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