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COVID-19 patients recover after placenta treatment in Israel—reports

/ 05:08 PM April 22, 2020
covid-19, coronavirus

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Image: CDC via AP, File

Patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have survived after receiving a placenta-based cell therapy in Israel.

The biotherapy firm behind the treatment is Pluristem Therapeutics, which uses placental cells to develop cell therapies. It takes cells from placenta after birth and “programs” them to secrete proteins, CEO and president Yaky Yanay explained in a Times of Israel report on April 16.

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Patients were given 15-milliliter doses of cells (PLacental eXpanded or PLX cells) through simple inter-muscular injections. After a one-week follow-up on April 7, all seven Israeli patients given the treatment survived.

Six of these patients were critically ill, while two out of four with multiple organ failure exhibited clinical recovery and respiratory improvement, the Jerusalem Post reported on April 12. Three of the patients are set to be weaned off their ventilators. 

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Two types of proteins were secreted to help in the recovery. “They stop the body from attacking its own organs by having the placenta cells secrete immunomodulatory factors, basically relaxing the immune system, as the other proteins reduce inflammation,” said Yanay.

He noted that over 20,000 people can be treated with a single placenta.

Push for clinical trial

The administered treatments were not part of a clinical trial and there was no control group. The company has so far been getting approval on a patient-by-patient basis in Israel and the United States, where it has one patient in New Jersey. Data on the American patient has yet to be reported.

Pluristem hopes to receive regulatory approval so that large amounts of the treatment can be produced. “We can manufacture cells to treat thousands very quickly,” he told Times of Israel.

However, there are doubts about finding a treatment for COVID-19.

“I don’t have any feeling this is going to work. This is a viral disease, not something from outer space, and for viral diseases we’ve always struggled to find treatment,” said Manfred Green, founding director of the Israel Center for Disease Control.

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“There is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease,” the World Health Organization states on its website. “However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines.” Niña V. Guno /ra

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TOPICS: cell therapy, coronavirus, COVID-19, Israel, placenta
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