BiolineRX Ltd. (TASE:BLRX) has signed licensing agreement with Yissum Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to develop a treatment for irritated bowel syndrome, which is about to begin a Phase II clinical trial to test its efficacy.
The product, BL-7040, has undergone a number of reincarnations. The molecule was discovered by Prof. Hermona Soreq of the Hebrew University, and was originally developed by Esther Neurosciences Ltd. to treat myasthenia gravis (MG), neuromuscular autoimmune disease that interrupts normal communication between the nerve and the muscle. This is a niche market.
Esther Neurosciences was acquired by Britain's Amarin Corporation plc (Nasdaq: AMRN) for $15 million in 2007. BiolineRX CEO Kinneret Savitsky said, "Amarin decided to refocus on cardiology treatments, even though the MG results were good."
BiolineRX will target the drug for a larger market, amounting to $1.8 billion a year. "We decided to develop the drug for autoimmune diseases because MG is a narrower indication," said Savitsky. "Prof. Soreq conducted other clinical trials, which showed that the drug is also suited for specific inflammatory diseases and also nicely demonstrated the mechanism."
BiolineRX has two other drugs in large clinical trials and three drugs in initial clinical trials. It has 17 drugs altogether in the pipeline. The agreement with Yissum adds another product in the advanced development stage, as Esther Neurosciences and Amarin already successfully completed a Phase I safety and efficacy clinical trial.
BiolineRX's share price rose 0.7% to NIS 1.44, giving a market cap of NIS 177 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 26, 2011
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