A new experimental therapy is being tested on an American COVID-19 patient for the first time.
Six coronavirus patients considered ‘high risk’ have already survived and recovered after being treated with the placenta-based cell-therapy product. According to early data from the Pluristem, the Israeli biotech company championing the procedures, the patients were suffering from respiratory failure and inflammatory complications linked to COVID-19. Four of the patients also experienced failure of other organs, including cardiovascular and kidney failure. The patients were treated at three different medical centers in Israel for seven days.
According to Pluristem, all patients not only survived, but four of them even showed improvement in respiratory evaluations and three of them are weaning off of their ventilators. Further, two of the patients with preexisting medical conditions show a clinical recovery in addition to respiratory healing.
“We are pleased with this initial outcome of the compassionate use program and committed to harnessing PLX cells for the benefit of patients and healthcare systems,” said Pluristem CEO and president Yaky Yanay. “Pluristem is dedicated to using its competitive advantages in large-scale manufacturing to potentially deliver PLX cells to a large number of patients in significant need.”
Yanay also said that Pluristem aims to conduct a multinational clinical trial for the treatment of complications associated with coronavirus. However, he added that the company also hopes to extend treatments in other countries, under compassionate use as well.
Pluristem is currently running a Phase III critical limb ischemia study at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey. According to Holy Name, this is the first time this procedure is being used to fight COVID-19 in the United States.
The patient, an otherwise healthy 49-year-old man, was critically ill with respiratory failure due to the acute respiratory distress syndrome which comes from COVID-19 and was intubated in an intensive care unit for three weeks.
The U.S. treatment was conducted under the US Food and Drug Administration’s Single Patient Expanded Access Program; a branch of an emergency program intended to get treatments to corona patients as quickly as possible called, US Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program.
As there is no known cure or vaccine for coronavirus, cell therapy is among many experimental treatments the medical community is attempting during the COVID-19 pandemic.