A new drug delivery system puts thousands of toxic pharmaceutical molecules inside a targeted missile, which goes off only when it reaches cancerous tissue.
The two-year-old Israeli company Immune Pharmaceuticals is fast emerging as a leader in developing new ways to use these antibodies, which are found in drugs such as Herceptin for breast cancer, Remicade to treat autoimmune diseases and Erbitux for head, neck and colorectal cancer.
The method was developed by a team under Hebrew University Pharmacy School dean Shimon Benita, who chairs Immune’s scientific advisory board. Immune licensed it from the university’s technology transfer company.
“It has a double targeting mechanism — it goes through vessels into tissue, and the antibody gets it right into the cell. People are now saying the future of medicine, and specifically the future of treating cancer, is in the targeted missile.”
The first generation of those drugs, antibody drug conjugates, is now being approved for resistant cases of Hodgkin’s disease and breast cancer.
At the recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, the buzz was about new drugs combining the power of anti-cancer drugs with the targeting abilities of antibodies. The first generation of those drugs, antibody drug conjugates, is now being approved for resistant cases of Hodgkin’s disease and breast cancer.
The second focus for Immune Pharmaceuticals is Bertilimumab, which targets a substance found in the blood and tissue that contributes to increased inflammation. The investigational drug now entering clinical Phase II trials in all major Israeli hospitals, with results expected in mid- to late 2013.
“We know it’s well tolerated in humans, and our priority is to develop it for gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis,” says Teper. “We’re finding more potential every day for this drug. It has indications for eye diseases, too — it can be administered as drops for severe eye inflammation potentially leading to corneal damage and blindness.”