Israeli biotechnology firm Pluristem Therapeutics has partnered with Japan-based Fukushima Medical University’s Global Medical Science Center to evaluate its human placenta cell-derived radiation therapy.

Under the deal, Pluristem’s PLX-R18 cells will be developed to treat acute radiation syndrome (ARS), as well as other morbidities following radiotherapy in cancer patients.

PLX-R18 is expected to protect people from radiation exposure who are involved in nuclear plant decommissioning.

ARS occurs due to exposure to severely high levels of radiation, posing fatal risk of damage to the gastrointestinal tract, lung, skin and bone marrow, and other body systems.

"Researchers at Fukushima have a strong interest in cell therapies that may offer a treatment for conditions caused by exposure to ionising radiation."

The parties will evaluate PLX-R18 cells as a potential treatment for radiation-induced damage to lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

The research also includes development of preclinical prototypes of radiation damage in these tissues for use in clinical trials.

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As part of the research, Pluristem will offer PLX-R18 cells and scientific know-how. Fukushima Medical University will carry out studies and supply the required resources.

The partnership will be conducted concurrently with a research being funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is examining PLX-R18 cells as a potential treatment for hematologic component of ARS.

Data from a preclinical study showed that PLX-R18 cells when administered intramuscularly can be an effective treatment for bone marrow failure resulting from exposure to high radiation levels.

Pluristem CEO Zami Aberman said: "The researchers at Fukushima have a strong interest in cell therapies that may offer a treatment for conditions caused by exposure to ionising radiation.

"We anticipate that our work with Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima Global Medical Science Center will help to maintain the health of those involved in decommissioning the Fukushima reactors; the decommissioning process is estimated to take about 40 years.

"We hope that this collaboration can advance efforts to safeguard populations around the world from illness related to radiation exposure."

The company noted that bone marrow failure resulting from inadequate blood cell production, caused by various reasons including ARS and cancer treatments, can be critical as it may cause hemorrhage, lower immunity and anemia.