Pluristem PLX cells turn around near fatal bone marrow failure

Pluristem Therapeutics ($PSTI) is approaching drug delivery just a little bit differently--instead of using polymers or patches, it uses PLX (Placental expanded) cells, cells derived from full-term placentas, to deliver a cocktail of therapeutic proteins. In a dramatic case study, the PLX cells helped pull a lymphoma patient back from life-threatening bone marrow failure, resulting in a climb in share price of 14% on the Israeli stock market, according to Globes.

In the case study, Pluristem's PLX cells were given to the patient with bone marrow failure and pancytopenia (a life-threatening reduction of red and white blood cells and platelets) under the Israeli government's compassionate use program. The patient had been treated with chemotherapy for lymphoma and needed a bone marrow transplant, but this was not successful. After two courses of PLX cells a week apart, the patient, a 54-year old woman, was first released from the isolation unit and then allowed to leave the hospital and return home once her condition improved.

"This is a real breakthrough--the woman was in isolation due to low white blood cells and high susceptibility to infections and in addition her red blood cells and platelets were low, leading to a very dangerous and life-threatening situation," said Reuven Or, director of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunology at Hadassah Medical Center. "The treatment with PLX has saved her life and can certainly be classified as a medical miracle," added Or.

This follows the treatment of a 7-year-old girl with aplastic bone marrow, who has now also returned home. Pluristem is planning to apply for orphan drug status in the U.S. for the treatment of aplastic bone marrow.

Pluristem has received approval to start a Phase I/II randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to assess its PLX cells in the regeneration of muscle damaged during total hip replacement, a growing market as the population ages. The study will compare injections of PLX cells with placebo. If successful, this could open up major new markets for PLX cells, including the treatment of sports and other injuries.

- read the press release on the compassionate use
- see the press release on the Phase I/II trial
- check out the article in Globes