Israeli firm treating COVID-19 patients with placenta cells: reports


Posted at Apr 22 2020 11:11 AM

A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on Feb. 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/Reuters/File 

MANILA - An Israeli firm has started using placenta cells to treat COVID-19 patients who showed signs of improvement, 2 Israel-based publications reported. 

Pluristem Therapeutics uses placentas to grow smart cells, and programs them to secrete therapeutic proteins in the bodies of sick people, said The Times of Israel. 

The firm recently gave the PLX cell therapy to its first American patient after treating 7 Israelis. 

"All 7 Israelis had survived and 3 were on target to soon move off ventilators, while one had shown deterioration in respiratory parameters," the news website said, citing April 7 follow-up data from Pluristem. 

The American patient is from New Jersey, where Pluristem is running a separate study, said The Jerusalem Post. 

The patient was critically ill and intubated in an intensive care unit for 3 weeks, it said. There is no follow-up data yet on the American, The Times of Israel added. 

The treatment of select patients does not constitute a clinical trial and there is no control group, noted the report. 

A trial will come soon and Pluristem CEO and president Yaky Yanay hopes the "approval can be very fast," The Times of Israel quoted him as saying. 

"We can manufacture cells to treat thousands very quickly," he said in the report. 

The World Health Organization said that "while some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease." 

"However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines," it said on its website. 

The Philippines and Japan are planning to begin this month a clinical trial that will use the anti-influenza drug as a treatment for the new coronavirus, Manila's health department said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday offered a P10 million reward to any Filipino who can discover a vaccine against COVID-19.