NESS ZIONA, Israel, January 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
FutuRx, a biotechnology incubator in Weizmann Science Park, is pleased to announce that its first two biotechnology companies have started operations. The companies are developing new approaches and candidate drugs in oncology and neurodegenerative disease.
FutuRx, which became operational on January 1st 2014, plans to house 30-40 start-up companies during the next eight years. FutuRx was established through a collaboration among OrbiMed Israel Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, through its venture group Takeda Ventures, Inc.
Hepy Biosciences Ltd. has been established based on Professor Israel Vlodavsky's work at the Rappaport Family Research Institute and Faculty of Medicine of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology and at the Oncology Department of Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, and Professor Oded Livnah of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Hepy Biosciences is developing a candidate drug that inhibits a specific enzyme activity to stop tumor growth and metastasis. The drug will be considered for pancreatic and lung cancers as well as other potential indications. Professor Vlodavsky is a pioneer in the research of cell interaction with its tissue surroundings and the significant role played by the tumor micro-environment in cancer progression, with his research documented in ~400 publications. In recognition of his scientific achievements, Professor Vlodavsky has received numerous awards, and is a Research Professor of the Israel Cancer Research Fund and member of international and national scientific committees and granting agencies. Professor Oded Livnah is a faculty at the Institute of Life Sciences and the Director of the Wolfson Centre for Applied Structural Biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
XoNovo Ltd. was founded by Dr. Rafi Gidron, the founder and chairman of Israel Brain Technologies (IBT) and cofounder of Give to Cure (GTC), and by Professor Ken Hensley from Toledo University in Ohio. The company is based on the work done at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation by Professor Hensley who has an extensive publication record of twenty years in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. XoNovo is developing a candidate drug targeting a protein implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and Batten Disease, a rare, fatal disorder of the nervous system that typically begins in childhood. Affected children suffer mental impairment, worsening seizures, progressive loss of sight and motor skills, and early mortality.
"We are pleased to reach this exciting milestone that brings the first two - of what we hope will be many - new companies into FutuRx to develop potentially transformative new medicines," noted Dr. Einat Zisman, CEO of FutuRx. "Through a strong collaboration among our management team, industry and government partners, we are able to source and advance some of the most promising international science. We look forward to having more emerging companies enter FutuRx in the near future, and we encourage researchers, entrepreneurs, academic institutions and small companies to explore FutuRx as a home for their candidate drugs and technologies" concluded Dr. Zisman.
Avi Hasson, the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy of the State of Israel, commented, "I congratulate FutuRx on reaching this milestone. This activity is part of an important initiative of the Israeli government strategy, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the industry to strengthen and promote biotech in Israel".
"This partnership between the Government and Industry will make an important contribution to innovation and to the establishment of more biotechnology companies that will promote the life sciences industry," said Anya Eldan, GM Incubator Program at the Office of the Chief Scientist. "Each company that achieves milestones will attain funding of at least $2M for a period of three years. Government participation is up to 85% of that budget and the financing of the remainder by the Incubator partners enables investment in high-risk companies that otherwise would not have been able to obtain financing. This structure will support the growth of the biopharmaceutical industry in the State of Israel." said Anya Eldan.
FutuRx is the Israeli biotechnology incubator that was established in 2014 by Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, OrbiMed Israel Partners, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, through its venture group Takeda Ventures Inc., after winning the tender of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in Israel. The incubator has space for more than 10 companies, and will advance new candidate biotechnology products by identifying and nurturing early-stage life science innovations. FutuRx is located in the Weizmann Science Park in Ness Ziona (near the Weizmann Institute), Israel.
Sigal Arad, Administrative Manager, FutuRx Ltd.,