How far are we from a viable COVID-19 treatment? Worldwide, over 178,000 people have died so far, with confirmed cases numbering more than 2,500,000. More than 150 drugs are being researched as possible treatments, by companies big and small.
Pluristem Therapeutics (PSTI) falls squarely into the latter category. The micro-cap pharma company has been grabbing some attention with its potential COVID-19 treatment.
Following a virtual fireside chat with Pluristem’s President and CEO Yaky Yanay, H.C. Wainwright’s Swayampakula Ramakanth noted, “In our view, with the ongoing pandemic affecting nearly every country and stressing healthcare systems around the world, there is an urgent need for new and effective treatments, and this represents a significant market opportunity for Pluristem.” According to Yanay, the analyst said, “The company’s current centralized manufacturing facility in Israel is capable of producing sufficient doses to treat thousands of patients, and more capacity could be allocated to treat COVID-19 as needed.”
In March, Pluristem’s PLX-PAD cell therapy, which uses allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells with immunomodulatory properties, was approved by the Israeli Ministry of Health to treat severe COVID-19 patients. Following which, Pluristem initiated a compassionate use program for the treatment of patients with acute respiratory failure and inflammatory complications resulting from COVID-19.
A week following the treatment, all seven patients are alive, indicating 100% survival rate. 3 out of the 7 have shown improvement in respiratory parameters and have started to come off ventilator support.
Pluristem has now filed for an IND with the FDA and in the near future expects to begin a multi-national clinical study in treating COVID-19 associated ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome).
Additionally, Pluristem has in place fully developed logistic chains, both in the US and the EU, to support the clinical studies and enable them to get treatments to hospitals in a matter of hours.
Ramakanth concluded, “In light of the medical urgency and Pluristem’s readiness to deliver on this promising treatment, we believe the company could complete the initial studies and report results before the end of 2020, with the potential to launch PLX-PAD for the treatment of COVID-19 as early as 1H21.”
As a result, Ramakanth reiterates a Buy rating on Pluristem shares, along with a $15.50 price target, which implies nearly 50% upside from current levels. (To watch Ramakanth’s track record, click here)
Overall, there is not much activity on the Street regarding the small biotech. Over the past 3 months, only one other analyst has chipped in with a view on Pluristem’s prospects. The additional Buy provides PSTI with a Moderate Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $13.75, the upside is a healthy 33%. (See Pluristem stock analysis on TipRanks)
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