FutuRx biotech incubator selects first two projects

The two startups are XoNovo (Alzheimer's Disease) and Hepy Biosciences (cancer).

Dr. Rafi Gidron, cofounder of Chromatis, sold in 2000 for $4.2 billion, who is currently chairman of Israel Brain Technologies, founded by former President Shimon Peres, is officially switching to biomed.

Gidron has also begun practicing entrepreneurship by founding XoNovo, which treats Alzheimer's Disease and other diseases involving brain degeneration. The company has entered the Chief Scientist's FutuRx biotechnology incubator, operated by franchise holders OrbiMed Advisors LLC, pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (through the JJDC investment fund), and Takeda Pharmaceutical.

XoNovo was founded on the basis of technology from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in the US. The molecule has already passed clinical trials on animals, and it was found that it improves the state of animals with diseases similar to Alzheimer's and ALS. Among animals with Alzheimer's Disease, the drug reduced both cognitive degeneration and the accumulation in the brain of materials associated with the disease.

In the first stage, XoNovo will treat Alzheimer's Diseas and Batten, an orphan disease. Dr. Liora Braiman-Wiksman will manage XoNovo. There have been many failures in treatments for Alzheimer's Disease in recent years, but the company is encouraged because the operating mechanism of its drug is new - it attacks a protein named CRMP2, which up until now has not been the target of any drug that has been tried unsuccessfully.

Another company in which the incubator is investing is Hepy Biosciences, which is developing a cancer drug that suppresses a certain enzyme in the tumor essential for its growth and for the development of secondary tumors. In the first stage, a product for lung cancer and pancreatic cancer will be developed. The drug is based on research by Prof. Israel Vlodavsky at the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the oncology department at the Hadassah Medical Center. Another partner in founding the company is Prof. Oded Livnah, director of the Wolfson Center for Applied Structural Biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Nili Schutz will manage the company.

These two pharmaceutical companies are in the early stages, which are not yet suitable for a venture capital fund in the sector, but the franchise holders believe that they have great potential.

FutuRX CEO Einat Zisman says, "I believe that through the incubator, the companies will become leaders making a significant contribution to the development of medical technology for the benefit of patients." Anya Eldan, GM Incubator Program at the Office of the Chief Scientist, said, "The biotech incubator program enables each incubator company that meets milestones to obtain over NIS 8 million in financing over three years. The state provides 85% of the budget, and the incubator finances the rest, thereby facilitating investment in high-risk companies, which otherwise would be unable to obtain financing. This structure will help consolidate the bio-pharma industry in Israel."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 14, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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