HAIFA, Israel, Feb. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Pluristem Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:PSTI) (TASE:PLTR), a leading developer of placenta-based cell therapies, today announced that the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), will commence a mechanism-of-action study of Pluristem's PLacental eXpanded RAD (PLX-RAD) cells for the treatment of acute radiation syndrome (ARS). The study aims to investigate the effect of PLX-RAD cells on body weight, blood count parameters, cytokine concentrations and bone marrow or spleen cellularity at various time points following the administration of PLX-RAD cells to animals receiving total body irradiation. The study is scheduled to begin in February 2014. Following positive data from NIAID's first study of PLX-RAD cells on irradiated animals' hematological systems, Pluristem had announced on July 18 th, 2013 NIAID's intention to expand the scope of its PLX-RAD research. NIAID's initial work showed that the overall survival of irradiated rodents treated with PLX-RAD cells significantly increased compared to that of the control group. "In this study, NIAID will expand the focus of its work to better understand the mechanism-of- action of PLX-RAD cells. We are pleased that NIAID has recognized the therapeutic potential of these cells in treating ARS," stated Zami Aberman, Chairman and CEO of Pluristem. Pluristem has a preclinical hematology program in which the company is evaluating PLX-RAD cells in the treatment of bone marrow failure following radio- or chemotherapy. Data from the NIAID studies are expected to be beneficial to our hematology program. ARS studies of PLX-RAD cells also have been conducted by Prof. Raphael Gorodetsky, lead investigator of the study and head of the Biotechnology and Radiobiology Laboratory at the Sharett Institute of Oncology at the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center. Those studies showed an up to four-fold increase in the survival rate of irradiated animals treated with PLX cells versus those treated with placebo, as well as improvements in additional parameters. The preclinical results for PLX-RAD cells have been published in peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE. About Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) ARS represents a constellation of signs and symptoms that occur between several minutes and several weeks after exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation. ARS involves multiple organs, including the hematological and gastrointestinal systems. The hematological syndrome follows damage to the bone marrow and is characterized by severe decreases in red and white blood cell and platelet counts, which can lead to infection, bleeding and death. The gastrointestinal syndrome follows radiation-induced damage of the gastrointestinal tract and results in infection, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to death within two weeks.