Fast on the heels of the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to establish full diplomatic relations, Haifa-based Pluristem Therapeutics has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center to advance cell therapies for diseases including COVID-19.

“The aim of the collaboration is to capitalize on each company’s respective areas of expertise in cell therapies to deliver regenerative medicine for the benefit not only of the citizens of the UAE and Israel, but for humanity as a whole,” Pluristem explained in a press release on Aug. 17.

Pluristem has treated patients with its placental PLX-PAD allogenic product via compassionate-use programs in Israel and the United States and is currently conducting phase II studies in the United States and European Union.

Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center has been treating COVID-19 patients with stem cells sourced from the patient’s blood, by returning the cells back into the patient’s lungs as a fine mist through a nebulizer.

The collaboration, initiated by the Better Alternatives advisory firm, would involve exchanging research results, patient samples and testing equipment.

“I believe it is our obligation and privilege as business and scientific leaders to lead the way forward to strengthen collaborations and promote innovation and education. We are honored to be on the front line of this historical moment,” said Pluristem CEO and President Yaky Yanay.

This is not the first COVID-related joint project between the two countries.

In July, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries signed agreements with Abu Dhabi’s Group 42 concerning R&D collaborations for solutions to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. On Aug. 15, UAE’s APEX National Investment signed a strategic commercial agreement with Israel’s TeraGroup concerning SARS-CoV-2 research.

The Pluristem-Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center MoU was signed in a video conference. But soon it may be possible to make a three-hour flight between the two Middle East countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Aug. 17 that Israel is working to enable flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to use Saudi airspace.

This article was first published by Israel21c.

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