Pluristem soars after stem cell drug aids recovery of cancer patient

Pluristem Therapeutics ($PTSI) delivered news yesterday about how the developer's placental stem cell treatment helped a cancer patient recover from potentially lethal bone marrow failure. After the Haifa, Israel-based company's announcement, its stock price spiked nearly 15% on Monday.

A hospital in Israel treated the patient, a 54-year old female lymphoma patient, with Pluristem's "Placental Expanded" cells under a compassionate use authorization after the woman received what turned out to be an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant. The placental cell therapy appeared to aid the patient's recovery from bone marrow failure, which leads to dangerous reductions in blood counts. With her marrow function kicked into gear, doctors released her from the hospital.

Pluristem touted the result as the second such case of a patient recovering from bone marrow failure after treatment with its therapy since May. The company is planning to ask the FDA to give orphan status to the experimental product as a treatment for aplastic bone marrow, which describes the condition when bone marrow fails to churn out vital blood cells. 

"The clinical improvements observed in this and a previous patient treated with PLX cells demonstrate that these cells could potentially assist in the recovery of bone marrow following bone marrow transplant failure or other conditions where the bone marrow is significantly compromised," the company said in a statement.

A top official from the hospital where the woman was treated called the treatment a "breakthrough." Yet one miraculous recovery won't be enough to transform the product into a major success, and Pluristem faces some major hurdles before it can claim commercial victories with the cellular therapy.

- here's the release
- see the Globes article