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Pluristem Up on Cell Therapy Treatment of Coronavirus Patient

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Shares of Israel-based Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. (PSTI - Free Report) grew 13.5% after it announced that it has treated its first patient suffering from COVID-19 complications.

The patient was treated in the United States under the FDA’s Single Patient Expanded Access Program, also called a compassionate use program, which is part of the U.S. Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP). CTAP is an emergency program for possible therapies that uses every available method to deliver new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.

The patient was treated with PLX cell therapy in an acute care facility, which is currently an active site for Pluristem’s phase III critical limb ischemia (CLI) study in New Jersey. The patient was critically ill with respiratory failure due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and under mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit for three weeks before being treated with PLX cell therapy.

PLX cells are allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells possessing immunomodulatory properties. These induce the immune system’s natural regulatory T cells and M2 macrophages and thus, may prevent or reverse the dangerous overactivation of the immune system.

The company currently plans to initiate a multinational clinical study as soon as possible for PLX cells in the treatment of patients suffering from complications associated with COVID-19. It will not provide any updates on the status of patients treated under compassionate use.

Pluristem’s shares have surged 100.8% this year so far against the industry’s decline of 6%.

Currently, there is no FDA-approved treatment for the severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2. Given the alarming levels of spread and severity, some approved drugs and pipeline candidates are being tested to see if they are effective in treating the infected patients.

Last week, Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD announced promising results from a cohort analysis of 53 patients hospitalized with severe complications of COVID-19, who were treated with its experimental antiviral, remdesivir, on an individual compassionate-use basis. Remdesivir treatment resulted in clinical improvement in 68% of patients in this limited data set.

Meanwhile, Athersys, Inc. ATHX is also evaluating its MultiStem cell therapy product in subjects with moderate-to-severe ARDS induced by COVID-19. Last week, Mesoblast Limited (MESO - Free Report) obtained clearance from the FDA for an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to treat patients suffering from ARDS caused by COVID-19 with intravenous infusions of its allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) product candidate, remestemcel-L.

Pluristem currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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