Drug developer Avraham Pharmaceuticals Ltd. has raised $5.7 million from Yissum Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Technion Research and Development Foundation, Clal Biotechnology Industries Ltd. (TASE: CBI) and the Pontifax fund. Following the current investment round, Yissum and Integra Holdings, Yissum's biotech holdings company, will now hold 47% of the shares of Avraham Pharmaceuticals.
The company will use the proceeds to pursue development of ladostigil, for the treatment of early-stage Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.
Logostigil is undergoing a three-year Phase II clinical trial on patients with mild cognitive impairment, to test whether the drug can delay, or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. 150 patients out of a total of 200 patients have already been recruited in 16 medical centers in Germany, Austria, and Israel. Interim results are due in the first half of 2014.
Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance regarding developing drugs for early stages of Alzheimer's disease, in which it emphasized the need for developing drugs that will target the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease before there is too much irreversible injury to the brain. FDA Division of Neurology Products director Dr., Russell Katz said, "It is in this population that most researchers believe that new drugs have the best chance of providing meaningful benefit to patients."
Avraham Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Yona Geffen said, "This investment marks a vote of confidence from our existing investors in Avraham and ladostigil and will enable us to continue our on-going Phase II study with patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment, which is advancing as planned. We are especially encouraged by the recently published FDA guidance that clearly states there is an unmet medical need for therapy that addresses the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease, which exactly fits the indications of ladostigil."
Avraham Pharmaceuticals chairman Yaacov Michlin added, "Currently there is no treatment for mild cognitive impairment, and we are very hopeful, based on our promising previous clinical and pre-clinical data, that ladostigil will become the first drug to alleviate mild cognitive impairment symptoms and prevent progression to Alzheimer's disease, to the benefit of millions of people around the globe."
Ladostigil was designed by Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who discovered Exelon, and Professor Moussa B.H. Youdim of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, who discovered Azilect. The drug substance was first synthesized by Professor Michael Chorev of the Hebrew University, who is now based at Harvard University. All three scientists act as scientific advisors to Avraham Pharmaceuticals.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 21, 2013
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