Israeli drug development company UroGen Pharma (formerly Theracoat), which has developed a new urinary tract drug delivery system, has signed a joint development agreement with US pharma and aesthetic treatment company Allergan, which produces of Botox. As part of the agreement, Allergan will use UroGen's system to deliver toxins, such as Botox, to the urinary bladder. This is part of the treatment it has been developing for overactive bladders. As part of the agreement, Allergan will immediately pay UroGen $17.5 million, with optional royalties and milestone payments along the way.
UroGen's drug delivery system is based on a low temperature liquid which turns into a gel at a higher temperature. Thereby, the product could be injected into the urinary bladder as a liquid, where it turns into a gel and covers the walls of the bladder instead of being excreted. Being urine-soluble, it will gradually break down there and release any drug contained in the gel. At present, Botox and similar products are already used to relax urinary bladder muscles.
UroGen's product may enable this treatment to become a delayed-release drug, enabling less frequent injections. UroGen's independent products are aimed at treating urinary bladder cancer. The problem with treatments in this field is that they are exerted from the bladder in a few minutes. These independent products are currently undergoing clinical trials.
Based in Ra'anana, UroGen was founded in 2005 at the Granot Ventures incubator by Dr. Asher Holzer, a co-founder of InspireMD. In 2013, Holzer told "Globes" that the company's products are classic for cooperation with the company that produces the drug in the gel, and that it is interested in signing a marketing agreement as early as 2013. Although this has been slightly delayed, the company now realizes this goal. Meanwhile, UroGen has grown, developed, and recruited key investors, among others the Pontifax fund (14%), Arkin Holdings (14%), ProQuest Investments (5%), and Chaim Hurvitz's CHealth (3%).
UroGen's chairman is urologist Prof. Arie Belldegrun, who founded Kite Pharma, traded on NASDAQ at $2.46 billion. Belldegrun has also invested in the company and controls 4%.
UroGen's CEO is Ron Bentsur, former CEO of NASDAQ-traded XTL and Keryx. About two years ago, when the stock market was receptive to new biomed firms, the company considered an NASDAQ offering, but did not manage to realize it before the offering window closed. So far, the company has raised $12 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 18, 2016
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