Israel's Pluristem secures €50m. EU financing to boost COVID-19 treatment
The financing is backed by a guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the European Union's Investment Plan for Europe.
By EYTAN HALON
Haifa-based Pluristem has secured €50 million ($54m.) in financing from the European Union's European Investment Bank (EIB) to advance its pioneering regenerative cell therapy platform, with a focus on the clinical development of a placenta-based treatment for complications associated with COVID-19.Encouraging preliminary data published earlier this month showed that the company's PLX cell-therapy product had treated six critically ill coronavirus patients in Israel who were considered high-risk for mortality – all of whom survived.The EIB funding will support up to 50% of R&D costs for the project advanced by Pluristem, which recently established a fully-owned R&D subsidiary in Berlin, and repayment will only commence five years after receipt of the first of three tranches. The financing agreement is expected to be signed on April 30 in an online ceremony."We believe that this financing will allow us to significantly advance the clinical development of our lead product candidates, which if successful we expect will improve the quality of life for millions of patients around the world," said Pluristem CEO and president Yaky Yanay."As we move forward into a multinational clinical trial for PLX cells to treat patients suffering from complications associated with COVID-19, we expect this EIB financing will accelerate our path to approval and to making a potentially effective COVID19 treatment available worldwide."Pluristem, which is currently conducting late stage clinical trials in several indications, says its placenta-based cell therapy product candidates are believed to release a range of therapeutic proteins in response to inflammation, ischemia, muscle trauma, hematological disorders and radiation damages.Cells are grown using three-dimensional expansion technology and can then be administered to patients without tissue matching.The financing is backed by a guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the European Union's Investment Plan for Europe. Known as the Juncker Plan, the initiative brings together the EIB and European Commission to advance Europe's economic competitiveness.