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VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. (VSTA) Announces Expansion of Key Stem Cell Technology Patent Estate Supporting Its Drug Rescue and Cell Therapy Programs

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company applying stem cell technology for drug rescue and cell therapy, was pleased to announce today the issuance of two additional United States patents supporting its therapeutic and drug discovery programs.

U.S. Patent 7,763,466, titled “Mesoderm and Definitive Endoderm Cell Populations,” and U.S. Patent 7,955,849, titled “Method of Enriching a Mammalian Cell Population for Mesoderm Cells,” further enhance VistaGen’s intellectual property portfolio and provide additional protection for its proprietary research and development activities. Methods covered in these important new U.S. patents describe the use of activin and serum-free culture conditions for producing endoderm and mesoderm.

“Strong and enforceable intellectual property rights are critical components of our plan to optimize the commercial potential of our Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™ platform,” said Shawn K. Singh, VistaGen’s Chief Executive Officer. “These patents further solidify our growing IP portfolio. Generally speaking, they expand the application of our activin-driven pluripotent stem cell differentiation technology to include a broader range of tissues and organ systems, and significantly strengthen our market position.”

Mesoderm and endoderm are two of the three primary early precursors, “germ layers,” which develop into all of the non-neuronal cells of the body. Endoderm is the innermost of the three primary developmental germ layers, and develops into the gastrointestinal tract, including the major cells of the liver and pancreas, respiratory tracts of the lungs, other endocrine glands and organs, such as the thyroid and thymus glands, the major cells of the kidney and the auditory and urinary systems. Mesoderm is the germ layer lying adjacent to the endoderm. These multi-potential cells develop into cardiac and skeletal muscles, all the cells of blood and lymphatic systems, bone, cartilage, fat, the lining of blood vessels, and connective tissues.

Activins are members of the important transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) family of “morphogens,” i.e. developmental factors that direct and control the differentiation and eventual fate of early precursor cells. During development, the body uses differing concentrations of morphogens, similar to activin, to direct precursors to become the various mature cells discussed above. Methods utilizing differing concentrations of activin to direct and control the differentiation of various mature cell types are described in these issued U.S. patents and are widely-believed as having significant commercial value.

In addition to the patent estate that VistaGen owns and controls by license in the U.S., the Company has proprietary rights to a large and growing number of patents granted in territories outside the U.S. Having recently reported its original research demonstrating the use of pluripotent stem cells to generate insulin, these issued U.S. patents further highlight VistaGen’s leadership position in the field as the Company applies its Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube™ platform for proprietary applications in drug rescue, cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

The patent families related to these two issued patents are subject to exclusive licenses to VistaGen on a worldwide basis through an agreement with Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) in New York. The patents stem from work conducted by scientists in the laboratory of Dr. Gordon Keller, formerly a Professor of Gene and Cell Medicine at MSSM and Director of its Black Family Stem Cell Institute. Dr. Keller is now Director of the University Health Network’s McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Toronto and Chairman of VistaGen’s Scientific Advisory Board.

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