Israel’s life sciences success stories

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Israel's life sciences industry is a great source of national pride. Although they are not as famous as their high-tech peers, when a life sciences entrepreneur meets a patient whose life he saved or improved thanks to his discovery or invention, the emotion is just as important. Globes recently overviewed the most successful Israeli companies in the life sciences and medical arenas.  Here's the wrap-up: Brainsway - Founded in 2003, on the basis of an idea developed by scientists at the US National Institutes of Health. Its current market cap is  $127 million. It has developed the Deep TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) therapy for the treatment of neurological and mental disorders. Deep TMS has obtained certification from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other national health agencies for the treatment of depression, and the company is readying for its first sales. Compugen - Founded in 1993. It's current market cap is $200 Million. The company has developed an in silico discovery platform for oncology and immunotherapy drug candidates. In 2005, the company established a business model based on the development of drug candidates through the preclinical trial stage, at which point it commercializes them to big pharma companies. In 2010, it narrowed its focus to the development of oncology and immunology drugs, and to develop them to the pre-investigational new drug (IND) stage ahead of human clinical trials. Kamada  - Founded in 1991. Its current market cap is $268 Million, and it is planning an offering on Nasdaq. Development of therapeutics derived from human plasma for the treatment of pulmonary and inflammatory diseases. The company already sells Glassia (an Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) protein for the treatment of AAT deficiency) for the treatment of congenital emphysema and is developing an inhalable version of the drug. The company has discovered that the AAT1 protein may also be able to treat cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes, suggesting a very promising future. Prolor Biotech - Founded in 1991, and with a current market cap of $295 Million. The company is developing proprietary versions of already-approved therapeutic proteins to extend their lifespans with no loss of efficacy. It has completed a Phase II clinical trial of its longer-lasting human growth hormone therapy. Dr. Fuad Fares from the Druze village of Hurfeish founded Prolor at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology incubator, on the basis of know-how acquired from the University of Washington. The company's Carboxyl Terminal Peptide technology is attached to existing therapeutic proteins, extending their lifespans. The molecule is produced by pregnant women to protect the pregnancy. In addition to the human growth hormone treatment, Prolor has other products under development and enough cash to complete clinical trials on its leading candidates. Protalix Biotherapeutics - Founded in 1994 and has a current market cap of $482 Million. The company is developing biological therapies based on recombinant therapeutic proteins derived from its ProCellEx plant cell based protein. The company has obtained US FDA approval of Elelyso for the treatment of Gaucher's diseas. Protalix is the first company in the world to produce a human protein from plant cells. It has genetically engineered carrot cells to produce a human protein, which is lacking in patients with Gaucher's disease. Although there is already an animal-cell based treatment on the market, use of plant-cell based proteins is cheaper and safer from contamination. RedHill Biopharma - Founded in 2009 and with a current market cap of $64 Million, the company is developing new, improved, and patented formulations and combinations of existing drugs for the treatment of Crohn's Disease, oncology support, migraines, and heart attacks. It has completed pivotal Phase II/III clinical trials for its generic improved treatments for migraines and for nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. It treatment for Crohn's Disease is undergoing a Phase III clinical trial. Aposense - Founded in 1996, the company has a market cap of $33 Million. The company is developing rationally designed small molecules to identify apoptosis (programmed cell death) or target apoptosis in vivo, to create personalized patient care in oncology, cardiology and neurology. Although the possible applications of Aposense's technology are almost limitless, it has initially focused on two: an oncology treatment and a tumor diagnostic and monitoring product to test a treatment's effect. Pluristem Therapeutics  - Founded in 2002 and has a current market cap of $201 Million. The company is developing placenta-based cell therapies using patented PLX (PLacental eXpanded) cells. Pluristem's lead product is a treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is set for a Phase II/III clinical trial. InsuLine Medical - Founded in 2007 and has a current market cap of $60 Million. The company has developed a device to warm the insulin injection point to improve its absorption by the bloodstream, and is set to begin sales in Germany. Insuline aims to imitate the pancreas to improve the absorption of artificial insulin. The company's device is designed for insulin pumps (the InsuPad) and ordinary syringes (InsuPatch insulin pump). The InsuPad has EU CE Mark certification, and the safety clinical trial, conducted under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocols, of the InsuPatch, met its primary endpoints. Keryx Biopharmaceuticals - Founded in 1999, the company has a current market cap of $207 million. It is developing treatment for kidney diseases. The company is conducting a Phase III clinical trial, under FDA protocols, of Zenerex for the treatment of hyperphosphatemia (elevated phosphate levels) in patients with end-stage renal disease, and its Japanese partners are conducting a Phase III trial in Japan. Medgenics - Founded in 2000, it has a current market cap of $87 million. The company is developing a biological biopump for patients to produce, within their bodies and on a long-term basis, their own natural human protein therapy for the treatment of a anemia, hepatitis, and other diseases. Intec Pharma - Founded in 2000, and has a current market cap of $75 million. The company is developing a proprietary accordion pill for the controlled release of existing medications' active pharmaceutical ingredient.The company has completed Phase II clinical trials of Levadopa for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and of Zaleplon for the treatment of insomnia. More products are in the pipeline. For the full Globes article, by Gali Weinreb and Tali Tsipori, click here.