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Radiation threatsPocket-size biological solution to radioactive threats

Published 15 May 2017

Yaky Yanay, co-CEO of Pluristem Therapeutics, last week surprised the participants The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York by saying that a small glass vial he pulled out of his pocket offered a solution to Iran’s nuclear threats. “I have the solution in my pocket.” The company has developed an anti-radiation therapy that can be stockpiled for emergencies. The therapy harnesses the power of the human placenta to contain the cascading effect of radiation exposure in the body and allow for the natural healing of cells.

Yaky Yanay, co-CEO, Pluristem Therapeutics, last week surprised the participants The Jerusalem Post Annual Conferencein New York by saying that a small glass vial he pulled out of his pocket offered a solution to Iran’s nuclear threats.

“I have the solution in my pocket,” Yanay said.

The controversial nuclear deal with Iran, and the stream of threats from North Korea, have kept the topic of nuclear weapons in the headlines.

The Jerusalem Post notes that currently, there is no point-of-care testing to measure the degree of exposure to acute radiation. First responders do not have detection kits to assess the level of radiation in a patient, and would not be able to separate those affected by radiation poisoning from those who were spared. Medical personnel must thus provide everyone with anti-radiation therapy, regardless of exposure.

Haifa-based Pluristem Therapeutics has developed an anti-radiation therapy that can be stockpiled for emergencies. The therapy harnesses the power of the human placenta to contain the cascading effect of radiation exposure in the body and allow for the natural healing of cells.

The U.S. government is currently evaluating Pluristem’s cell-therapy product as a potential candidate to stockpile as a countermeasure (see “U.S. testing radiation therapy developed in Israel,” HSNW, 23 February 2016).

Animal trials suggest that the cells could rescue the large majority of a population exposed to high doses of radiation which could follow a reactor meltdown or an attack on a nuclear power plant. Results from a (NHP) pilot study for PLX-R18 showed improved survival compared to cohorts that received placebo. The two lower dosages, 4 and 10 million cells per kilogram body weight, resulted in an 85 percent survival rate in irradiated NHPs compared to a 50 percent survival rate in the placebo treated control group. The pilot study also demonstrated a trend toward enhanced neutrophil and lymphocyte recovery.

These data will inform an important study aiming to meet the requirements for a Biologics License Application (BLA) submission under the FDA’s Animal Rule regulatory pathway.

The Post notes that Pluristem is one of a small number of biotech firms working in this space, including NeoStem,whose core business is the collection and storage of stem cells for those who want such an insurance plan; or Osirus Therapeutics’ Prochymal, currently in FDA Phase III clinical trials for two diseases with clinical manifestations like acute radiation syndrome (ARS); and Cleveland Biolabs, whose Protectan compounds reportedly rescues mammals from lethal doses of radiation by suppressing apoptotic cell death in critical hematopoietic (HP) and/or gastrointestinal (GI) tract cells.