Israeli biotech firm Pluristem Therapeutics has developed an anti-radiation treatment that could cure nearly all severely ill patients suffering from exposure to lethal doses of radiation. Matthew Stock reports.
This human placenta was donated to Israeli biotech firm Pluristem Therapeutics. At their labs in Haifa, they've developed an injection of cells from the placenta that can treat radiation exposure. Cells from the donated placentas are harvested to create a cocktail of therapeutic proteins. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ESTHER LUKASIEWICZ HAGAI, VICE PRESIDENT MEDICAL AND CLINICAL AFFAIRS AT PLURISTEM THERAPEUTICS, SAYING: "With these cells, we are injecting these cells to the bodies' muscles and over there they capture stress signal from the body and they start secreting factors like... that will help the bone marrow to recover after radiation." The treatment is currently undergoing trials in Jerusalem and the United States. Animals exposed to radiation during testing have shown nearly a 100 percent recovery rate. The company says it's most effective if injected within 48 hours of exposure to radiation, which could make it a vital tool in emergencies. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YAKY YANAY, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER AT PLURISTEM THERAPEUTICS AND ISRAEL ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES (IATI) CO-CHAIRMAN, SAYING: "So it will be very easy to use, off-the-shelf and readily available. We designed it to be simple to treat it in the combat field or in case of the catastrophe itself, you just have to take the vial, take the cells out and inject it into the patients muscle so we will be able to treat or the agencies will be able to treat a lot of people in a short time." The meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 is one such scenario. Pluristem Therapeutics is now working with Fukushima Medical University to treat people in case they are exposed to radiation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZAMI ABERMAN, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT PLURISTEM THERAPEUTICS SAYING: "When the Fukushima disaster happened it inspired our feeling that we have to do it stronger and quicker and we developed an aggressive plan in order to bring the product into awareness and today with NIH (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) support and the cooperation of the Fukushima center we strongly believe that we can bring the product to cure many patients." Further trials are currently underway, and the company says the U.S. is keen to stockpile the treatment in case of emergency. They're now developing similar treatments for disorders like Crohn's Disease and other disorders of the central nervous system.