Pluristem's placental stem cells spur bone marrow growth

Pluristem Therapeutics' ($PSTI) special stem cells drawn from discarded placentas have shown major promise in a preclinical study. As the company announced today, they spurred hematopoietic stem cells to grow bone marrow in mice after their injection into muscle.

Being that this is the big week for the 2012 Bio International Convention in Boston, the Israeli company saved the announcement for the industry megagathering. FierceBiotechResearch spoke with Pluristem Chairman and CEO Zami Aberman and William Prather, the company's senior vice president of corporate development, about the big news. They emphasized that they see the performance of their Placental eXpanded cells, or PLX, as a major advance in spurring the body's stem cells into regenerative work, in part because injecting the treatment into the muscle appeared to generate a stronger systemic response than giving the treatment intravenously, which is a more common route for stem cell treatment tests.

If it ultimately gains regulatory approval, this would be a better way to deliver the treatment because muscle injections are easier to track and measure, Aberman told me.

"When injected into muscles you know where [the cells] are," Aberman said during an interview across from Israel's booth in the hangar-like exhibit hall. He noted that intravenous injections can't be tracked well through the body to determine their effectiveness or how long they last.

The study involved irradiating mice to kill their bone marrow development and then injecting the PLX treatment intramuscularly. Pluristem found that the method of treatment stimulated the hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow to produce red cells, white cells and platelets. The treatment boosted mouse survival time and increased how many bone marrow cells survived.The hope is to use the treatment eventually to treat blood disorders as well as primary and secondary bone marrow failure that can take place after radiation sickness or chemotherapy complications.

Just last month, Pluristem announced that it had used the treatment in a 7-year-old girl who was suffering from a bone marrow disorder, and that the treatment helped boost both red and white blood cell levels. The stem cells have also been tested in two Phase I/II safety/dosing clinical trials in the U.S. and Germany, for patients with critical limb ischemia, showing enough promise to warrant further trials.

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