$3m Raised for Alzheimer’s Drug
November 16, 2011
By: Jennifer Frey
A consortium of four investors, including the Technion Research and Development Foundation Ltd. (TRDF), has completed a $3 million financing round for Israel-based Avraham Pharmaceuticals to further the development of a novel drug for Alzheimer’s disease.
The drug, ladostigil, is a molecule that combines components from the existing drugs Azilect and Exelon. Teva’s Azilect, for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, was developed by Prof. Emeritus Moussa Youdim of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Azilect is the only anti-Parkinson’s drug that has proven to have a disease-modifying effect. Novartis’s Exelon was developed by Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin of Hebrew University to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
Ladostigil is the first Alzheimer’s drug with the potential to slow the progression of clinical symptoms for sustained periods of time, and to modify the pathology associated with the disease. In addition, studies of ageing rats have shown that the drug may be able to slow the progression to Alzheimer’s disease in patients diagnosed with MCI. It may also help treat mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and other neurodegenerative diseases.
TRDF was joined in this latest round of fund-raising by Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University; Pontifax, a venture capital investor focusing on Israeli life sciences; and Clal Biotechnology Industries (CBI). Avraham Pharmaceuticals intends to use the $3 million to continue to advance its on-going Phase II proof-of-concept trial of ladostigil in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and to begin a 36-month study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of ladostigil in patients diagnosed with MCI. This second study is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2012.
“Avraham greatly appreciates the continued support of all its investors, which has enabled the company to advance development of both its Alzheimer’s disease-and MCI-directed drug products,” said Dr. Vincent R. Zurawski, CEO of Avraham Pharmaceuticals.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia worldwide, affecting about one in 20 people 65 years of age or older. MCI, defined as an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia, affects between 3% and 19% of people in the same age bracket. There is no proven treatment for MCI.
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is consistently ranked among the world’s leading science and technology universities. Home to three of Israel’s five winners of the Nobel Prize in science, the Technion commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in computer science, nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy, water-resource management, medicine, drug development, and aerospace. Headquartered in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) promotes scientific and technological research and education at the Technion.