Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. (NasdaqCM: PSTI) (DAX: PJT) today announced that its PLX cell therapy product, derived from human placenta, a non-controversial, non-embryonic, adult stem cell source, was selected as the only cell therapy product candidate to enter into a study seeking treatments for diastolic heart failure (DHF) in the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7). Pluristem is to receive a grant from the FP7 to cover study related R&D expenses.

The study will test the effects of PLX (PLacental eXpanded) cells on various heart cell types under high glucose conditions. Uncontrolled high glucose levels in type 2 diabetes patients can lead to oxidative stress in the heart. This condition can cause local inflammation which can result in fibrosis of the heart muscle and the development of diastolic heart failure (DHF). The properties of Pluristem’s PLX cells may prevent or delay the development of this extremely common but devastating disease.

"There has been a growing interest in the potential of PLX cells to treat a variety of clinical indications following the release of the PLX-PAD clinical study interim results, which demonstrated safety and shows a trend of efficacy. The decision to use our PLX cells in this DHF study is further verification of the uniqueness of Pluristem’s PLX cells as an off-the-shelf product that requires no tissue matching prior to administration," said Zami Aberman, chairman and CEO of Pluristem. “There is a significant unmet medical need for the treatment of DHF, not only in Europe but also globally, and Pluristem’s placenta-derived cell therapy may provide patients and physicians with an effective and safe treatment option for this disease.”

Approximately 15 million people worldwide suffer from DHF with the prevalence increasing as the population ages. Heart failure has now become the leading cause of hospitalization among patients over the age of 65 and it has been estimated that the cost of treating the disease in 2010 will exceed $39 Billion in the U.S. alone.