Last year, global consumer brand Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) along with Japanese pharmaceutical giant Takeda (TKPYY), venture capital firm Orbimed and the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy in Israel had announced the formation of FutuRx- a biotech incubator in Israel’s Weizmann Science park. Weizmann Science Park area is considered to be one of the foremost centres in the world, for multi-disciplinary research activities. JNJ had announced new collaborations with academia and biotech firms to focus on multiple disease areas and consumer healthcare challenges. According to the tender awarded last august, the companies enrolled will be incubated up to three years and will be funded as much as $2 million, with the Chief Scientist’s office providing about 85% of the funding and will receive strategic advice from both venture capital and pharmaceutical development experts.
As a part of this venture, the FuturRx incubator announced that it was open for business and has welcomed its first two life-science start-ups: Hepy Bioscience Inc and XoNovo Inc. It is expected to house 30-40 companies over the course of the next eight years.
Hepy Biosciences Inc. is developing a new drug that suppresses a certain enzyme activity in tumor responsible for its growth. The company was established based on the work done by Prof. Israel Vlodavsky’s 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. The drug will be considered for pancreatic and lung cancers as well as other potential indications.
XoNovo was founded by Dr. Rafi Gidron, founder and chairman of Israel Brain Technologies and co-founder of Give to Cure, 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.
Dr. Einat Zisman, CEO of FutuRx notes “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 advance potentially transformative new medicines. Through a strong collaboration amongst the incubator management team, industry and government partners, we are able source and help advance some of the most promising science in the region.”
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