The share price of drug development company BioLineRX (Nasdaq/TASE: BLRX) rose 22% yesterday, although it has fallen back 2.4% today, after the company announced that it had bought a drug to treat liver failure.
The drug, named BL-1220, was developed by Professor Smadar Cohen from the Department of Biotechnology Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Professor Yaron Ilan, Head of Internal Medicine Department A at the Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem. Professor Cohen also developed BioLine's drug for preventing damage from heart attacks that failed in advanced clinical trials after it was sold to Ikaria Holdings Inc. in a commercialization agreement.
The liver failure treatment is the second project in-licensed under the framework of BioLineRX's strategic collaboration with Novartis Pharma AG for the screening and development of novel drug candidates. Under the agreement between the two companies, they jointly select projects and invest in them out of $10 million that Novartis allocated to BioLineRX for this purpose. BioLine develops the drug up to the human clinical trials stage, and Novartis can decide whether to take it for further development.
BioLineRX's leading product at present is a leukemia treatment currently at the Phase IIb trial stage.
Liver disease treatments have been at center stage recently with Allergan's acquisition of Tobira Therapeutics Inc. for $1.7 billion, representing a huge premium for the company.
Tobira has developed a treatment for NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), which arises from fatty liver disease, while BioLine's drug is intended for treatment of liver failure, which can arise from fatty liver disease or from other diseases. In both cases, the market is large.
Philip Serlin, Chief Financial and Operating Officer of BioLineRx, said, "In August this year, we in-licensed the first compound under our multi-year strategic partnership with Novartis, a novel drug candidate for controlling liver fibrosis through modulation of the immune system. Today, we are pleased to announce the second compound under the Novartis collaboration, also for the treatment of liver pathologies. Both of these projects fit our strategic focus on the immunology space. We continue to work closely with Novartis to identify cutting-edge, novel therapies and we expect to bring additional promising projects to the collaboration by the end of the year.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 26, 2016
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