Do you know that comedy gold classic about Israeli scientists and things they keep inventing and discovering? Always good for a laugh, at least in the pre-COVID-19 times. Anything goes in the holy land of miracle science, and naturally, there are now also COVID-19 cures, already proven effective and ready to save the world. The stem cell company Pluristem, founded in Haifa in 2001, now announced in the uncritical media that their proprietary cell product (derived from human placentas) saved the lives of every single COVID-19 patient they treated under compassionate use. A literal 100% survival rate, as the company and its loyal journalists assure with chutzpah.
This full 100% survival rate obviously even beats Didier Raoult’s chloroquine cure for COVID-19 hands down. Maybe, instead of begging India’s fascist president Narendra Modi to let the Israeli agents fly out some chloroquine, Bibi Netanjahu and the Mossad should have loaded that plane with some fresh placentas?
Save lives now!
According to Pluristem, their placenta-derived so-called PLX cells are “allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells that have immunomodulatory properties”. This may sound weird to you, to cure COVID-19 with some placental cells with hypothesised properties, but the idea enjoys support at the very top. Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani is peddling his own stem cells cures, which according to stem cell scientist and blogger Paul Knoepfler, are placental cells by the US company Celularity, which claims their product has properties of so-called natural killer (NK) cells can destroy cancer and by extension also virus-infected cells of COVID-19 patients. Knoepfler appears unconvinced and doesn’t seem to find much science behind that strategy, but really, who needs science these days? It’s either chloroquine or stem cells, make your pick.
In fact, Science has Spoken, the stem cell panacea are of course also the perfect cure for COVID-19. Rutgers University stem cell scientist Martin Grumet called already in March to “save lives now” of COVID-19 patients worldwide with the mesenchymal stem cell product Ryoncil by the Australian biotech Mesoblast:
“Given the safety of the aforementioned stem cell products, companies should request permission from regulatory agencies for compassionate treatment of respiratory distress in severe COVID-19.“
Grumet’s proof of miracle was a clinical trial in China. That Leng et al Aging & Disease 2020 study treated 7 COVID-19 patients with Ryoncil, of course with resounding success as per usual for stem cells therapies (the lone critic was Elisabeth Bik). The 38 authors are mostly Chinese, but sport affiliation with 20 different institutes in 10 countries. A phase 2/3 clinical trial on 240 patients using the Mesoblast stem cell cure is now on its way (h/t reader comment below). The cash-making stem cell magic is presumed to be immunomodulatory, because it stands to reason hence no need for science.
This immunomodulatory mambo-jumbo will remind my regular readers of another biotech which offers proprietary immunomodulatory cells to cure diseases: the British start-up Celixir, founded by the struck-off dentist Ajan Reginald and the Nobel Prize winner Sir Martin Evans. It seems the Israeli Pluristem, even if lacking a Nobelist, did things “right”:
Pluristem’s PLX cells are sourced from caesarian delivery placentas, an easy, ethically unproblematic and never-ending supply source, while Celixir apparently had to bleed some Welsh heart attack patients to get cells for a clinical trial. A trial which Celixir performed in Greece and which was now exposed as rigged and even illegal. Which brings us to another thing Pluristem did “right”: unlike Celixir, they don’t publish their clinical trial data in scientific journals, only as press releases. Who needs peer reviewed scientific papers when you can communicate your amazing miracle cures via so-called journalists in allegedly serious newspapers?
Apparently, nobody seems to mind the lack of scientific foundation: Israeli authorities and the US FDA allowed Pluristem to treat COVID-19 patients on compassionate use hospital exemption basis. Meaning, there is no need to provide any scientific rationale or, G-d forbid, any actual research data, no need to register and report the treatments and outcomes, or to seek a proper ethics approval for that human experimentation. Especially when it’s a global emergency. Another advantage: unlike in clinical trials, compassionate use patients can be nicely charged to privately pay for their product testing engagement. An idea for Celixir?
The compassionate use therapies for COVID-19 were announced by Pluristem in its loyal PR organ Jerusalem Post on 15 March 2020, the treatment is said to be happening in collaboration with the Charite university hospital in Berlin, Germany. Another press release cites Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk, Director of the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapy at Charite:
“Charite’s’ unique knowledge, which includes research and clinical expertise in the immunopathogenesis of viral infections and critically ill patients, provides us an accelerated framework in which we believe PLX cells can be explored as a potential therapy for patients infected with Covid-19.“
Professor Volk sounds very keen. Does this mean Germany is next to test the miracle placentas from Israel on COVID-19 patients? I will ask and update.
On 30 March 2020, Jerusalem Post reported on behalf of Pluristem a compassionate use treatment of 3 patients in Israel, with plans to recruit more. On 11 April 2020, Pluristem reported in Globes having treated 7 Israeli COVID-19 patients with their PLX cells (the last one received the therapy on April 5th):
“Of the six patients who received Pluristem treatment – four have improved and three are already in rehab off the ventilator. One remained unchanged and one did not respond to treatment and his condition worsened. The drug was also given to a seventh patient, but the validity of his treatment is still less than a week and therefore his condition cannot be estimated yet.“
We do not know in which health state the patients exactly were, or are now (did they actually ever get off ventilators, are they alive at all, or is this not important anymore?). Obviously there is no control group to compare them to, which is probably the whole point. We do not even know who paid for the experimental therapy, and this is not a small issue. The only “publication” describing the results is this press release by Pluristem. Another newspaper report from 13 April suggests the 7th patient did not improve. But there are big plans with clinical trials for COVID-19:
“Pluristem develops stem cells that are originally derived from placenta, and are grown and treated in the company’s plant to secrete various substances. The company has three main products, a product that secretes a substance that promotes blood vessel growth and is being used in experiments to treat blood vessel obstruction, a product that encourages bone marrow to secrete cellular substances and stimulates red blood cell building, and a product that affects the immune system. They are all in different stages of experimentation“
On 13 April 2020, Pluristem reported on Bizportal to have already treated their first COVID-19 patient in USA, on compassionate use basis and after FDA approval:
“The treatment of Pluristem is an appropriately produced drug derived from women’s placenta after Caesarean birth. Cellular therapy is given to patients injected into the muscle, without any need for genetic matching between the donor and the patient.
The patient was treated with PLX cells at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey, which has an ICU, which is now used as an active site in the Phase III study of fluoric atherosclerosis (CLI). Prior to the treatment with PLX cells, the patient was in critical condition and suffered from severe respiratory failure resulting from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and was hospitalized for three weeks while in intensive care unit.“
On 14 April 2020, the Jerusalem Post reported these news in English, with he headline:
“Israeli COVID-19 treatment with 100% survival rate tested on US patient”
Pluristem’s court writer and pretend-journalist Maayan Yaffe-Hoffman is apparently a kind of hack who will write any irresponsible bullshit to please a customer. 100% survival rate, really? Remember the 7 patients celebrated in a different newspaper 3 days before? One of them was made to disappear by the intrepid journalist in her Jerusalem Post article from 13 April (uh-uh, what happened to him?), two others, elsewhere described as “unchanged” and “worsened”, are now suddenly “showing clinical recovery”:
“Not only had all the patients survived one week later, according to Pluristem, but four of them showed improvement in respiratory parameters and three of them are in the advanced stages of weaning from ventilators. Moreover, two of the patients with preexisting medical conditions are showing clinical recovery in addition to the respiratory improvement.“
The Holy Land is where miracles happen, it is all a matter of good PR.
“I have the solution in my pocket”
So where did the idea come from, that these placental PLX thingies could cure COVID-19, with no less than 100% efficiency? Presently, there are 9 clinical trials registered for PLX products: 2 in Germany, 6 in various hospitals in USA and one not yet recruiting (probably searching for a clinical trial site). None of these clinical trials has anything to do with infectious diseases or pneumonia. 4 trials are listed as “completed”, only one of these, on “Regeneration of Injured Gluteal Musculature”, done at the Charite Berlin, does report the results from 2015, although apparently as yet unpublished in a journal. Other 3 completed clinical trials, which began in 2009 and 2012, do not report any results and do not list any published papers, also the Pluristem website is silent there. Maybe it is none of the participating patients’ business, since their services are not needed anymore?
In fact, Pluristem’s website does not list even one clinical paper, not in a peer reviewed journal, not as a preprint. Next to literature reviews, conference abstracts and even media press releases, there are some rodent studies listed, in 2019-2020 exactly two were published, like the others in relatively obscure scientific journals. Not a single one of these preclinical rodent research papers tested PLX cells for any kind of viral or even bacterial infections, there is nothing related to pneumonia also. Of course Pluristem already determined that their PLX cells can cure muscle injury (especially in astronauts!), but also stroke and other cardiovascular trouble, cancer cure of course goes without saying, and this is the best: Pluristem cell injections will save you from lethal irradiation, a serious fear in Israel, given its own and its neighbours’ nuclear capacities.
This is not a joke. Pluristem’s CEO Yaky Yanay (who is a trained manager without any science education background) says if Israel and Iran were to go into an all-out nuclear war, he would save his Israeli compatriots. Every single one of them. Yaky, the Righteous Among the Nations, a new Messiah:
“Sitting on stage at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on Sunday, innovator Yaky Yanay pulled a small glass vial out of his pocket – promising a solution to Iranian nuclear threats.“I have the solution in my pocket,” said Yanay, CEO and president of Pluristem Therapeutics. […]
“If we can inject these cells after exposure to radiation, we will be able to keep the entire population alive,” he said.“
The opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic was too much for Pluristem to let pass by, and it paid off handsomely. Because, if their PLX cells cure everything and can even save the entire Jewish nation from a nuclear Holocaust, they are bound to cure a disease like COVID-19 with its mortality rate of 1-3%. Failing that, they will at least make Yanay and his Pluristem partners very rich. The stock is already soaring.
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