NeuroRx wins IATI-Biomed 2016 startup competition

Ruti Alon and Benny Zeevi Photo Alex Elman

NeuroRx is developing a drug designed to reduce cases of suicide among depressed patients being treated with drugs.

Depression drug developer NeuroRx was selected as the winner of the Conference startup competition at the 2016 IATI-Biomed Conference in Tel Aviv. Ruti Alon and Dr. Benny Zeevi co-chaired the conference.

NeurioRx is developing a drug designed to reduce cases of suicide among depressed patients being treated with drugs. "Depression kills more people than breast cancer," says NeuroRx founder and CEO Dr. Jonathan Javitt.

Speaking at the conference, Shlomo Nimrodi, CEO of Ramot, Tel Aviv University's technology transfer company, says that in the 20 years between 1993 and 2013, the 221 leading startups from Israeli universities achieved an aggregate value of $50 billion. 51% of them made a profit for their investors, and 24% generated a profit of more than five times the investment. According to Nimrodi, the figures show that investing in companies from institutions of higher learning was significantly less risky than investments in the high-tech sector as a whole.

Speaking at the conference, psychiatrist and Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development Human Biology Lead in Quantitative Human Neuromedicine, Neuroscience and Pain Research Unit Dr. Daniel Karlin said, "Up until now, the question of what the patients really think about their disease has been ignored. Sometimes, when you talk to the patients, you discover that one of the most important things for them is for their lives to be as similar as possible to what they were before the disease, even if their symptoms have not really been relieved,"

Karlin said that Pfizer was already using the cellular telephone to get a more accurate picture of patients' daily lives. "Using a movement meter that every telephone has indicates when a patient is active, when he is sleeping, whether he stayed still in sleep, and how long it took him to get out of bed," he said. He added that this information was critical, for example in monitoring Parkinson's Disease patients, and for the effort to prevent elderly patients from falling. "The drug, however, does not tell us what the patient feels. It is hard to distinguish a drunk person from a sleeping one, and a sad person from a calm one."

Karlin went on to say that the tendency of patients to refrain from taking medications according to the instructions was a problem in medicine in general, especially in clinical trials. "When you test a group of doctors, who should be the most disciplined people around, you see that they take a once-a-day drug with 90% accuracy, a twice-a-day drug with 60% accuracy, and a three-times-a-day drug even less accurately than that. In one experiment we tried, we checked the levels of the drug in the patients' bloodstream at the end of the trial. For some of them, it was zero." He stated, "We do not know exactly how the existing drugs for anxiety and depression work, because we do not know exactly what anxiety and depression are." He said that new drugs could not be developed in this way, and that the fact was that revolutionary drugs in these areas had not been developed in recent decades.

PricewaterhouseCoopers global health leader Patrick Figgis stated that the 80-plus age bracket was the fastest growing age bracket in the world, and that by 2050, there would be three times as many people over 80 as now. At the same time, 65% of the world will enter the middle class, an exciting event for humanity, but a time bomb for the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

The immediate effect will be a severe shortage of doctors and nurses, and the solution is digital medicine. "The consumers are open to a change in medical service, because they have already been exposed to these changes in other industries. 55% of patients in the US today trust the Internet more than a doctor, and 74% would be glad to substitute a virtual visit for a doctor's visit," Figgis explained.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on May 29, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

Ruti Alon and Benny Zeevi Photo Alex Elman
Ruti Alon and Benny Zeevi Photo Alex Elman
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