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Aastrom cutting workforce, ending clinical trial

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Aastrom Biosciences Inc. is cutting its workforce by about 50 percent and ending a clinical drug trial.

Shares of the company, which develops stem cell therapies for use in treating severe cardiovascular disease, slid to an all-time low on Wednesday after the plans were revealed.

Aastrom had 77 full-time employees as of Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing.

The Ann Arbor, Mich., company said that it will stop enrollment in and end the Phase 3 Revive clinical trial for patients with critical limb ischemia, or restricted blood supply. It will instead concentrate its efforts on the clinical development of ixmyelocel-T.

Individuals with peripheral artery disease caused by a buildup of plaques in the blood run the risk of developing critical limb ischemia, according to MayoClinic.com Critical limb ischemia happens when injuries or infections of the feet or legs progress and can cause gangrene, which may require amputation of the affected limb.

Aastrom said that ixmyelocel-T is its lead product and is used for treating dilated cardiomyopathy.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, primarily affecting the left ventricle, which becomes enlarged and can't pump blood to the body with as much force as a healthy heart, according to MayoClinic.com.

Aastrom said that it previously received a U.S. orphan drug designation for the use of ixmyelocel-T in the treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy.

President and CEO Nick Colangelo said in a statement that the company decided it was best to focus on ixmyelocel-T for dilated cardiomyopathy and other rare diseases because the "clinical development may require smaller studies with lower costs and a shorter path to regulatory approval."

Aastrom Biosciences' stock fell 44 cents, or 38.3 percent, to 71 cents in morning trading. Earlier in the session the stock declined to an all-time low of 70 cents. The shares started the year at $1.26.