As originally shared in Tech Startups, an Israeli biotech company called Pluristem has created a placenta-based cell therapy to treat patients with COVID-19. So far, the therapy, which uses PLacental eXpanded (PLX) cells, has helped the six patients treated fully recover from severe respiratory symptoms. For the next step, Pluristem’s new therapy candidate will soon be entering clinical trials.
The biotech company obtains all cellular products from human placental cells, or cells relating to placental tissue and blood. Using 3D technology and a bioreactor, Pluristem converts normal placental cells into PLacental eXpanded (PLX) cells.
PLX cells are unique in multiple regards. First, PLX cells do not require a tissue match like some other products. This makes them highly accessible for use in all patients. Additionally, PLX cells produce proteins that can help heal tissue damage.
Outside of COVID-19 treatment, Pluristem seeks to use their placenta-based cell therapy as treatment for muscle injury, preeclampsia, graft versus host disease, and peripheral artery disease. However, it can also be used to treat reduced blood flow or inflammation.
Pluristem wanted to test their placenta-based cell treatment as a potential therapeutic option for patients with COVID-19. Their early study followed the treatment of six critically-ill patients. All six patients were experiencing inflammation and respiratory failure. Four of the patients also had signs of kidney and cardiovascular failure.
According to data collected, all six patients were treated with PLX cells for one week. This was done under Israel’s compassionate use program. Compassionate use is when a patient is critically ill but there are no approved treatments, so patients can be treated with new and experimental drugs.
After treatment, all six of the patients survived. 50% of the patients are beginning to be removed from ventilators. 67% of patients showed an improvement in respiratory function.
Pluristem will soon move into clinical trials to see if these results can be replicated.