Pluristem Therapeutics has started dosing Covid-19 patients in Israel with PLX cells under a compassionate use programme approved by the country’s health ministry.

Dosing was performed in three patients at two hospitals. Pluristem intends to recruit more coronavirus patients in the coming days.

PLX cells are off-the-shelf allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells with immunomodulatory properties that could trigger the immune system’s natural regulatory T-cells and M2 macrophages.

This mechanism is expected to block the overactivation of the immune system, which leads to complications.

It is hoped that the approach will potentially decrease the incidence and\or severity of pneumonia and pneumonitis associated with Covid-19 infection.

In preclinical testing, PLX cells showed therapeutic benefit in pulmonary hypertension, lung fibrosis, acute kidney injury, and gastrointestinal injury. All these complications are linked to severe Covid-19.

Clinical data of the therapeutic cells revealed encouraging immunomodulatory potency in patients following major surgery.

All three patients treated in Israel are considered at high risk based on age and underlying conditions. The patients have had severe respiratory failure and have been on a ventilator.

Pluristem Therapeutics CEO and president Yaky Yanay said: “In addition to our current activity in Israel, we are in discussions with regulators in the US and Europe to define our clinical strategy for Covid-19.

“Pluristems’ advanced manufacturing capabilities enable us to serve potential need of treating large numbers of patients under compassionate use and clinical studies across numerous countries and hospitals in accordance with our expansion programme and regulatory approvals.”

Pluristem made preparations to immediately scale up PLX cell production at its facilities to meet potential demand.

Earlier this month, the company partnered with the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapy (BCRT) and the Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies (BeCAT) at Charite’ University of Medicine Berlin to explore PLX cell product candidates for Covid-19.