Nacht, Harel Insurance invest in personalized cancer treatment

Marius Nacht, photo: Tamar Matsafi

Ayala Pharmaceuticals has bought a license from BMS to develop the treatment.

Ayala Pharmaceuticals has bought rights from international company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to develop a personalized treatment for cancer. Ayala, founded a few months ago for this purpose, is an initiative by the Israel Biotech Fund, led by Dr. David Sidransky, Dr. Yuval Cabilly, and Ido Zairi. The fund recruited the aMoon Partners fund (led by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) cofounder Marius Nacht and Yair Schindel) and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd. (TASE: HARL) for the investment. Sidranksy is a well-known doctor specializing in personalized medical treatment for cancer.

Ayala's CEO is Ron Mamluk, former CEO of Chiasma, who developed that Nasdaq-listed company's technology.

Licenses for products are usually purchased by large companies from younger companies that developed them. Large companies, however, frequently have a pipeline of drug developments with a low priority in the company's development process, while a small company with expertise in the specific development niche can make faster progress with them. This is the logic behind this deal.

BMS received a one-time payment from Ayala, and also became an Ayala shareholder. It will be entitled to payment if development makes progress, and to royalties on sales, if and when a product reaches the market.

Ayala will develop personalized drugs for cancer with altered Notch genes. Until recently, cancers were categorized according to the organ in which they were observed, and were treated accordingly. In recent years, however, it has been realized that genetic mapping of cancer can facilitate better adaptation of treatment than categorization of cancer by organ.

Sidranksy said today, "In the past, in most clinical trials of drugs involving a Notch track, patients with various types of cancer were recruited, with no connection to a genetic test describing the mutation in the Notch gene. Our approach is to treat patients known to have a gene mutation."

Mamluk said that the company was planning to begin a Phase II trial in 2018.

BMS VP and early oncology development head Tim Reilly said, "Partnering with Ayala allows for the continued development of BMS-906024 and BMS-986115 and demonstrates our commitment to seeking opportunities that enable the continued development of drug candidates that might benefit certain patients. Dr. Sidransky and Ayala are strategically positioned to focus their resources on the targeted development of these candidates for the treatment of cancers with altered Notch genes.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 7, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Marius Nacht, photo: Tamar Matsafi
Marius Nacht, photo: Tamar Matsafi
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