Israeli company wants to invest in cell-based treatment for nuclear exposure

The therapy, known as PLX-R18 – 18 stands for life – is derived from a placenta after full-term delivery.

December 6, 2017 19:54
2 minute read.
A man stands in front of a fully burned elementary school near the the crippled Fukushima nuclear po

A man stands in front of a fully burned elementary school near the the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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North Korea announced only a few weeks ago that a rocket it test-fired is a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that can strike anywhere on the US mainland, as it declared itself a “complete” nuclear state.

Less than a decade ago, in 2011, the energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima – initiated primarily by the tsunami following the Tohoku earthquake – became the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The lives of approximately 42 million people were affected by radioactive contamination caused by the accidents in the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants.

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“Civilians today face more and more threats,” said Yaky Yanay, president and co-CEO of Pluristem Therapeutic. “These threats are not limited to borders, governments or continents.”

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday, the head of the Haifa-based clinical-stage cell therapy company said Pluristem has developed the most advanced technology in the world to treat people suffering from exposure to high levels of radiation, which occurs as the result of a nuclear accident or attack and can lead to severe health consequences, including death.

The therapy, known as PLX-R18 – 18 stands for life – is derived from a placenta after full-term delivery. These placenta stem cells can be injected into any human being at any time – “anyone in this room, without any blood or genetic matching,” explained Yanay, holding up a tiny vile of 100 million treatment-ready placenta cells.

PLX-R18 is stored at 320 degrees below freezing and can be stockpiled in case of emergency. Injecting the cells after exposure to high levels of radiation can increase survival from 30% to close to 100%.

“Our cells also assist in the recovery of blood cells and protect vital organs,” Yanay said.


In the last three years, Pluristem launched partnerships with the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense in the United States to test the cell therapy. The goal is to create a stockpile of PLX-R18 at strategic locations in the US. The company expects the product to receive FDA approval as early as next year.

Yanay said civilians expect their governments to make sure they are protected and can maintain “the world as we know it” even under extreme conditions.

“All of our governments should work together to develop medical countermeasures to protect their citizens and armed forces,” said Yanay. “We are willing to enlist the partnership of more and more countries. If there are countries in this room who are not proactively working at finding solutions to such events, you are welcome to call me,” Yanay told ambassadors and other diplomats at the conference.

“No one knows how a nuclear event will start or end. This is a game-changing technology that will enable us to handle such catastrophes,” he said.

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