JERUSALEM—A Haifa bio-tech firm declared this week that an anti-radiation therapy it has developed has had an almost 100 percent success rate in curing animals exposed to lethal doses of radiation.
Pluristem Therapeutics, a developer of placenta-based cell products, sees its therapy as the answer to non-conventional radiological incidents such as dirty bombs, nuclear accidents, or attacks on nuclear power plants.
Clinical trials, mainly with mice, have so far shown nearly 100 percent recovery after exposure to radiation in normally fatal doses, said Yaky Yanay, president and chief operating office of Pluristem in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
Last week the U.S. National Institutes of Health initiated studies involving large animals to evaluate dosing. The trials are part of the Department of Homeland Security program to protect the population in catastrophes involving radiological attacks.
Yanay said that within 48 hours of exposure to high doses of radiation, almost all the animals in the clinical tests who had received the company’s placenta cell injections had fully recovered, with their bone marrow blood cell production having returned to normal levels. Of animals in a control group, which were not given the injections only 30 percent survived. Initial experiments carried out at the Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem produced results that were "phenomenal," said Yanay.
If further clinical tests prove successful and the approach is declared effective by U.S. health authorities it would go far towards neutralizing a major world threat from terrorist groups. "The whole free world is dealing with unusual challenges," said Yannay. If there is a need, he said, the firm could make available to the United States a supply of the radiation antidote even before the trial period is completed.
The American government is presently carrying out its own trials prior to seeking FDA approval, said the executive. He expressed hope that approval will be forthcoming by next year.
Pluristem "harvests" the placenta from a hospital in Israel where it is donated by women undergoing caesarean section births.
Radiation sickness usually sets in within several days to months after exposure to high doses of radiation from a nuclear event. Deterioration of bone marrow leads to severe anemia, hemorrhages, and failure of the immune system.
The chairman of the firm, Zami Aberman, said that the use of human stem cells in therapeutic products generally require a genetic match, or tissue compatibility, with the individual being treated. "But placenta is the only place in nature where an outside organism—a fetus—is able to co-exist with the body without triggering a reaction."
Said Yannay: "You don’t need DNA matches. It can be injected into the muscle very easily"
Published under: Israel