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Ismail Kola Elected to Athersys Board of Directors

CLEVELAND, Oct. 20, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today that the Company's Board of Directors unanimously voted to elect Ismail Kola, Ph.D., as a director of the Company, effective October 18, 2010.
/ Source: GlobeNewswire

CLEVELAND, Oct. 20, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athersys, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHX) announced today that the Company's Board of Directors unanimously voted to elect Ismail Kola, Ph.D., as a director of the Company, effective October 18, 2010.

Dr. Kola currently serves as Executive Vice President of UCB S.A. in Belgium, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of innovative medicines focused on the fields of central nervous system and immunology disorders, and also serves as President of UCB New Medicines, UCB's discovery research through proof-of-concept organization, since November 2009. Since March 2007, Dr. Kola was Senior Vice President, Discovery Research and Early Clinical Research & Experimental Medicine, and Chief Scientific Officer at Schering-Plough Corporation. Previously, Dr. Kola held senior positions commencing in 2003 at Merck & Company, where he was Senior Vice President and Site Head, Basic Research, and responsible for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, infectious diseases, immunology and rheumatology, animal pharmacology and basic and medicinal chemistry. Prior to that, Dr. Kola was Vice President, Research, and Global Head, Genomics Science and Biotechnology, with Pharmacia Corporation, and served as consultant to SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, where he was also a member of the Genomics Advisory Board. During his tenure of proven leadership at several major pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Kola has overseen the successful development of numerous innovative new medicines, including products in the fields of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and central nervous system disorders.

"Dr. Kola's extensive clinical development expertise and success in bringing drug programs through regulatory approvals and to the marketplace make him an invaluable strategic addition to the Athersys Board of Directors. Ismail is a highly accomplished scientist with significant experience developing and managing research and development laboratories at some of our industry's leading large pharmaceutical companies," said Gil Van Bokkelen, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Athersys. "Ismail's experience and leadership in successfully taking drug development programs from the research stage through to commercialization brings a unique and valuable perspective to Athersys. I believe that Ismail's experience, specific to our areas of clinical focus, will enable him to make significant contributions as a member of our Board."

Dr. Kola currently serves on the board of directors of Astex Pharmaceuticals, Synosia and Ondek, and has previously served on the board of directors for companies such as Eragen Biotech, Promega Corporation and Ingene. Dr. Kola has authored more than 150 technical publications in scientific and medical journals of the highest caliber, and is a named inventor on a dozen patents and holds several prominent academic appointments.

About Athersys

Athersys is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical 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 MultiStem®, a patented, adult-derived "off-the-shelf" stem cell product platform for multiple disease indications, including damage caused by myocardial infarction, bone marrow transplantation and oncology treatment support, ischemic stroke, and inflammatory bowel disease. The Company is also developing a portfolio of other therapeutic programs, including orally active pharmaceutical product candidates for the treatment of metabolic and central nervous system disorders, utilizing proprietary technologies, including Random Activation of Gene Expression (RAGE®). Athersys has forged several key strategic alliances 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 .

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CONTACT: Athersys, Inc. William (B.J.) Lehmann, J.D., President and COO (216) 431-9900 In-Site Communications Investor Relations: Lisa M. Wilson (917) 543-9932 Pure Communications, Inc. Media Relations: Dan Budwick 973-271-6085