The 17th National Life Science & Technology Week
Academia Builds Platform for Biomed Business Growth
Israel’s technology transfer companies nurture research projects into applied ideas and onto the marketplace

Israeli universities, colleges, research institutes and medical organizations have over the years made handsome profits by transforming life science research into applied ideas and ultimately marketable products. The principle vehicle for achieving this, and providing the fertile soil from which the innovative ideas for the country’s life science sector are grown are Israel's technology transfer companies (TTCs). Owned by Israel’s academic institutions, they provide a seamless and profitable transition from laboratory research to the global marketplace in such sectors as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, digital and IT health, and Ag-bio.

Israel Tech Transfer Organization (ITTN), the umbrella organization for Israel’s TTCs features nearly 2,000 patented projects on its website, which have matured to the point where seed investment is required. These include over 1,000 projects in biotech and life sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics. ITTN serves as a one stop shop for international companies, VC funds and other investors looking for new Israeli technologies.

The 12 members of ITTN are: Bar-Ilan Research and Development Ltd. at Bar Ilan University; BGN Technologies (Ben Gurion University); BioRap Technologies Ltd. (Rappaport Research Institute of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology); Carmel-Haifa Economic Corp. Ltd. (University of Haifa); Gavish Galilee Bioapplications Ltd. (MIGAL Galilee Technology Center); Hadasit Ltd. (Hadassah Medical Organization); Mor Research Applications (Clalit Health Services); Ramot (Tel Aviv University); Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; T3 Technion Technology Transfer (Technion Research & Development Foundation Ltd.) Business Development Unit; Yeda Research & Development Co. Ltd. (Weizmann Institute of Science; and Yissum Ltd. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

Ramot's graduates include Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, which is traded on Wall Street, and develops innovative, autologous stem cell therapies for highly debilitating neurodegenerative diseases such as Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

One of Israel's most veteran technology transfer companies is Yeda at the Weizmann Institute of Science, which boasts two treatments for Multiple Sclerosis. Prof. Michael Sela and Prof. Ruth Arnon developed the Copaxone® drug, which has provided a breakthrough in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and has earned Teva Pharmaceuticals tens of billions of dollars in revenue over the past decade. Prof. Michelle Revel developed Interferon for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, which through the Rebif® medication earns sales of hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the German pharmaceutical firm Merck Serono.

Profitable pharmaceuticals which have graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Yissum include Exelon® for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease developed by Prof. Marta Weinstock Rosin, and marketed by Novartis with sales of over $1 billion annually and Doxil® an anti-cancer medication developed by Prof. Yechezkel Barenholz in collaboration with Prof. Alberto Gabizon of Hadassah University Hospital, which is produced and marketed by Johnson & Johnson and generates revenue of more than $500 million per year.

Another Israeli pharmaceutical, which originated in a TTC is Azilect® for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. The medication, which was conceived by Prof. Moussa Youdim and Prof. John Finberg of the Technion’s Rappaport Research Institute, was developed by the Technion in collaboration with Teva. Azilect has earned Teva hundreds of millions of dollars in sales over the past decade.

While pharmaceuticals are the most lucrative of successes, and the longest to nurture, Israel’s TTCs have produced many other commercial products. Yissum has spawned Medgenics, which has developed a mathematical formula that harnesses raw genome data, and is traded on the NYSE and London’s AIM.

Yissum set up Integra Holdings for its most promising biotech companies and has raised $32 million for investment. Portfolio companies include Avraham Pharmaceuticals which has completed a Phase II clinical trial for Ladostigil, which developed with the Technion, not only targets symptomatic relief in Alzheimer's disease patients, also has the potential to slow progression of the clinical symptoms of the disease. Tiltan Pharma is a mid stage company developing a novel product, TL-118, for cancer therapy through anti-angiogenic mechanisms. AtoxBio’s lead product AB103, is being studied in ACCUTE, a phase III clinical trial in patients with Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections. The drug has been granted orphan status by the FDA.

The Technion’s successful life science offspring includes: Mazor Robotics, which has developed robot guided surgical systems for spinal procedures and is expanding its application for cranial surgery and was recently listed on the Tel Aviv 35 Index for the largest companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange; Itamar Medical develops, markets and sells diagnostic medical devices based on PAT™ (Peripheral Arterial Tone) signal and its products include innovative tools for the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and sleep related breathing disorders; and Sealantis recently announced positive results from its first clinical trial that tested the safety and performance of Seal-V, a vascular sealant that helps rapidly control bleeding during vascular surgery.

Other TTCs in Israel, which are not members of ITTN include Israel’s government-owned medical centers and research institutions. Among these are Kidum – Agricultural R&D Applications Unit, the TTC of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Vulcani Institute Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), which handles 70% of all agricultural research in Israel. Another such TTC is Jerusalem College of Technology/Ninbar, which has developed an innovative automatic blood pressure meter.

Produced By: Daniel Uzan Media & Communications