Aposense Ltd. (TASE: APOS), which develops genetic therapy technology, announced the signing of an agreement for founding a subsidiary that will use its technology for treatment of infectious diseases in the respiratory system. The company, to be named Sirvir, will be jointly owned by Aposense, Access Industries Holdings LLC (controlled by Len Blavatnik), and Prof. Roger Kornberg, winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Access Industries undertook to invest $4 million in Sirvir immediately, to be used in a trial to prove the practicality of the combined technology. If this stage is successful, Access Industries will invest $16 million more in the subsidiary. In the first stage, Aposense's share of Sirvir will be 60%, falling to 40% if the entire $20 million is invested.
Aposense's share price jumped 6% on the TASE following the announcement, boosting its market cap to NIS 20 million. When it held its IPO, Aposense was developing a molecule capable of detecting cells undergoing apoptosis (programmed death) - diseased cells. The company tried to develop immunotoxins and imaging products using this technology, but encountered difficulties. Aposesense thereupon abandoned this effort and its share price plunged 98%.
In recent years, under the management of chairperson Dr. Alon Dumanis, CEO of Docor International Management, and CEO Dr. Ilan Ziv, the company used its remaining cash to quietly work on its current product.
Aposense developed a system which it says can direct molecules into body cells capable of "silencing" certain genes - preventing the genes' activity. Gene silencing is one of the hot sectors in medicine, but directing the silencing molecules into the cell is one of the most difficult problems it faces. If Aposense can really solve this problem for many molecules, it can make a significant contribution to medicine. The product has so far been tested in the laboratory, but not on animals or people.
Access Industries is Blavatnik's company for making direct medical investments, in addition to his investments through Clal Biotechnology Industries Ltd. (TASE: CBI). Over the past year, Access Industries made both direct investments and indirect investments through Clal Biotechnologies in Neon Therapeutics and Gamida Cell.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 9, 2019
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