The highly regarded Broadway set designer who spent five weeks in a medically induced coma after contracting COVID-19 made history as the first American to undertake pioneering care with cells from the placenta.
Edward Pierce, 49, is recovering at home after 46 days being treated at the Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, where doctors said he was suffering from organ failure.
Pierce, a partner stage designer for the original Broadway production of Wicked whose other income was Angels in America, Billy Elliott, Amazing Grace, and Bright Star, fell ill around March 9, when the pandemic struck the United States.
Edward Pierce, 49, can be seen above after being discharged from the Holy Medical Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey on May 1. He is seen on the left with his wife, Pixie
Pierce spent almost seven weeks in the hospital. His condition deteriorated to the point where he suffered organ failure
At first he thought he had the flu, so his doctor prescribed some medicine and told him to stay at home.
However, his condition did not improve and he was hospitalized.
“My oxygen level is very low,” Pierce said.
“They immediately accepted me. This trip is truly extraordinary. ‘
Four days after he was treated, doctors used Pierce on a ventilator.
At some point during his stay, the doctor must restart Pierce’s heart, which stops for about 15 seconds after removing the breathing tube.
“I’m very scared,” Pierce said the Daily Beast.
“I don’t like having no control over what is happening.
“[My wife] Pixie was with me until the doctor put on a mask on my face and asked me to count down from 10.
“I’m pretty sure he said he loved me and I told him.
Pierce is a partner stage designer for the original Broadway production of Wicked, whose other credits are Angels in America, Billy Elliott, Amazing Grace, and Bright Star. The picture above shows Wicked’s performance in October 2013 at the Gershwin Theater in New York
“Those are my last words.”
Pierce continued, “The next thing I knew was that I was awake and five weeks later.
“What happened in five weeks without me realizing it was a step forward, two steps back, treatment failed, my lungs didn’t wake up, they tried me in a new position to cleanse my lungs. me
“I have pneumonia. I suffer from kidney failure.
“There is talk of dialysis, but fortunately I don’t need to do it.
“I had a staph infection for so long because the snakes were in my throat, and there was a time when I pulled my breathing tube in frustration, even though I was completely numb.
My heart stopped beating for 15 seconds. They must restart it. ‘
His wife, Pixie, began to think about what life would be like if her husband were unsuccessful.
He said he received regular updates from the doctor.
“I’m waiting for a call from the hospital,” he said.
“Sometimes the news is good, sometimes it’s not so good.”
Pixie said the doctors who treated her husband ran out of choices.
So they asked him to allow untested treatments that involved extracting stem cells from the human placenta.
Pierce was the first American to receive a potential breakthrough treatment with cells extracted from the placenta. The picture above is a stock photo of a placenta that was recently removed after a cesarean section in an Indian hospital
This treatment was developed by an Israeli company, Pluristem Therapeutics, which says seventy-five percent of COVID-19 patients who receive placental cells have been removed from respirators, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The company is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to offer case-by-case care to patients who use ‘compassionate use’.
Loving use is the use of a new treatment that is not approved for critically ill patients whose condition has not improved after exhausting other choices.
“I know some people will have problems using placental cells,” said his wife, Pixie.
“I would say yes to whatever they want to try. This is the best opportunity.
“Actually it was a ‘Hail Mary’ treatment for him. He is not healthy.
“They don’t know what they can do for him.”
After authorizing the treatment, Pierce received large fresh placental cell injections in about 15 locations on his body.
Doctors have used fresh placenta brought to New Jersey the same day after a woman in Maryland gave birth.
Proposed treatments include the administration of intramuscular company PLX-PAD, which uses cells from the placenta, for severe pneumonia due to COVID-19 and prevents patients from worsening towards Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and sepsis.
In a relatively short period of time, Pierce’s condition began to improve.
Within 10 days, he was released from the ventilator and started breathing on his own.
The doctor also began to gradually get rid of him from the sedative. Three days after Pierce woke up, all of his breathing tubes, feeding tubes and catheters had been removed.
Pierce then received physiotherapy and speech therapy. He also began to eat well.
On May 1, he was released from hospital after nearly seven weeks of treatment.
Pierce was then sent to a rehabilitation center to rebuild his unused muscles and regain strength.
He has recovered at home for the past two weeks.
“If I inspire the medical community, because they have helped so many of us in our community, then I’m happy about that,” Pierce told The Daily Beast.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no approved drugs specifically designed to treat COVID-19.
Scientists announced last month the first effective treatment of corona virus – an experimental drug that could accelerate the recovery of COVID-19 patients – in major medical progress.
The United States government says it is working to make antiviral drug inhibitors available to patients as soon as possible.
“What has been proven is that drugs can block this virus,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top contagious disease expert.
“This will be standard care.”
California-based biotechnology company Gilead Sciences and the US government reported that in a large study, desivir brakes shortened the time it took for COVID-19 patients to recover an average of four days – from 15 days to 11.
Also, the death trend is less visible in those who use drugs, Fauci said.
The research was conducted by the US National Institutes of Health and involved 1,063 coronavirus patients who were treated in hospitals throughout the world.
Effective treatments can have a profound effect on outbreaks, because the vaccine might have been removed for a year or more.
HOW DOES CELL TREATMENT?
Pluristem Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Haifa, Israel, developed the technology
Pluristem Therapeutics, a biomedical company based in Haifa, Israel, says it is a pioneer in treatment with placental stem cells that can be used to help patients recover from conditions such as inflammation, ischemia, muscle injury, hematological conditions, and radiation exposure.
The company developed PLX-R18 or Placental eXpanded (PLX) cells, which are mass-derived placental cells that are mass produced using three-dimensional bioreactor cell growth technology.
3D technology enables companies to reproduce cells exponentially faster than traditional petri dish methods.
The basis for this research is the medical benefits that exist in the placenta.
The company uses placenta donated by mothers who give birth by cesarean section.
Each placenta is then examined, the source of the “raw material” used for treatment.
It is said that one placenta, which is usually considered a medical waste, has enough stem cells to treat 20,000 patients.
Pluristem uses the placenta to grow smart cells. These cells are then programmed to release therapeutic proteins into the body of the sick person.
PLX cells then interact with the immune system to supply blood to inflamed areas.
Last year, Pluristem reported positive results from a series of studies in animals using placenta-based stem cell therapy to treat acute radiation syndrome (ARS).
The study was conducted by the US Department of Defense’s Radiobiology Research Institute.
The company developed PLX-R18 or Placental eXpanded (PLX) cells, which are mass-produced placental cells that are mass produced using three-dimensional bioreactor cell growth technology
The test, which is carried out through Animal and Food Administration rules, because ARS cannot be tested in humans, is designed to evaluate the PLX-R18 Pluristem as a preventive treatment for ARS before radiation exposure.
Studies show that PLX-R18, given 24 hours before radiation exposure and again 72 hours after exposure, results in an increase in survival rates, from 4% in the placebo group to 74% in the treated group, said Pluristem.
The data also shows an increase in platelets, neutrophils, white blood cells and lymphocyte repair and a good safety profile. Analysis of the collected tissue shows an increase in the number of bone marrow cells and an increase in regenerative capacity, the company said.
PLX-R18 was also reviewed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health, as a treatment after radiation exposure.
In 2018, the FDA approved the use of emergency Pluristem therapy to treat ARS at nuclear events.
So far, treatment has been given to hundreds of patients in clinical studies.
The patients suffer from a variety of conditions, including atherosclerosis, muscle rehabilitation for people with hip joint fractures, and complications from diabetes.
The treatment so far is so promising that the European Investment Bank has promised EUR 50 million to the company for further research on COVID-19 therapy.
“When it comes to coronaviruses, pathogens enter the body and start activating the immune system,” Dr. Racheli Ofir from the Department of Intellectual Property Pluristem.
“The immune system then starts fighting in all directions, firing in all directions, thereby not only killing the virus but also killing the healthy cells in the body.
“When our cells are injected into the body, we expect them to identify excessive immune system activations so they know they can calm them down.”
The company claims that all COVID-19 patients who received treatment as part of ‘compassionate use’ survived – this after they were in grave danger.
However, the number of patients receiving treatment is less than in traditional clinical studies.
The company said it received many questions from governments around the world about care.
It is expected to receive funding to conduct clinical trials before approval is given and therapy can be mass produced.
But an Israeli public health expert is skeptical.
“I didn’t know this would work,” said Manfred Green, founder of the Israel Disease Control Center.
“This is a viral disease, not something from outer space, and for viral diseases we always struggle to find a cure.”
Pluristem also worked with NASA to see if the therapy helped astronauts restore muscle loss after spending a long time in space.
Source: Mako, Times of Israel
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