‘It’s time to invest in cell-based treatment for nuclear exposure’

The head of the Haifa-based clinical-stage cell therapy company said Pluristem has developed the most advanced technology to treat people suffering from exposure to high levels of radiation.

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December 7, 2017 01:54
2 minute read.
PLURISTEM CO-CEO Yaky Yanay speaks at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in the capital’s Wald

PLURISTEM CO-CEO Yaky Yanay speaks at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in the capital’s Waldorf Astoria on Wednesday about his company’s groundbreaking work combating potential radiation catastrophes.. (photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)

 
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Patients with bone marrow failure might live longer and have a better quality of life when treated with cell therapy developed by Haifa-based Pluristem Therapeutics Inc., according to a new report.

The peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Medicine published findings in February from a study of Pluristem’s placenta-based PLX-R18 that demonstrated improved human bone marrow cell engraftment after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), or bone marrow transplant.

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In the study, Posttransplant Intramuscular Injection of PLX-R18 Mesenchymal-Like Adherent Stromal Cells Improves Human Hematopoietic Engraftment in A Murine Transplant Model, mice received intramuscular injections of PLX-R18 following human HCT. Significant improvement was observed in the peripheral blood counts and in the bone marrow.

“Through the publication of this study, we are pleased to add to the growing body of knowledge and data on PLX-R18 cells’ role following IM injection to improve hematopoietic cell engraftment,” said Zami Aberman, Pluristem chairman and co-CEO.

The data supports a Phase I study of PLX-R18 cell therapy as treatment for insufficient hematopoietic recovery following HCT, which is taking place at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and Rambam Hospital in Haifa, as well as in the US through the Food and Drug Administration.

HCT is used to treat bone marrow failure associated with cancers of the blood or chemotherapy. When HCT fails to fully engraft, it poses dangers to the patient. The Phase I study is evaluating the safety of IM injections of PLX-R18 cells in 24 people with incomplete hematopoietic recovery persisting for at least four months following HCT.

“The preclinical data clearly suggest that PLX-R18 may have a therapeutic role in improving incomplete engraftment following HCT,” explained study co-author Prof. Hillard M. Lazarus of the Case Western Reserve University Department of Medicine and principal investigator of Pluristem’s Phase I study of PLX-R18 in HCT recovery. “We hypothesize that PLX-R18 cells’ secreted proteins, cytokines and chemokines are stimulating the marrow microenvironment, leading to improved reproduction of the progenitor cells and increasing peripheral blood counts,” he said.

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More than 13,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with myelodysplastic syndromes, a group of blood disorders associated with abnormal blood cell production and bone marrow failure. Further, bone marrow failure can also be a side effect of radiation or chemotherapy cancer treatment. The average length of survival depends on the case, but the prognosis is often poor and the patients usually require HCT.

At least 3,000 people in need of a bone marrow transplant die each year because they cannot find a matching donor. With PLX-R18, because the cells are grown using Pluristem’s proprietary 3-D micro-environmental technology and are an “off-the-shelf” product, the process does not require the matching of tissues between donor and recipient and may support the engraftment of an unmatched donor.

Rather than using stem cells as a replacement part, PLX-R18 cells secrete a range of specific proteins that trigger the regeneration of bone marrow hematopoietic cells, thereby supporting the recovery of blood cell production.

Aberman said this latest data on PLX-R18 could open doors for the treatment “and may also support current and potential studies of PLX-R18 in a broad range of hematologic indications.”

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