Israeli researchers aim to find ‘cure for the incurable’ to prolong life

"Nothing less than a paradigm shift"

ElaPharma (illustrative) (photo credit: Courtesy)
ElaPharma (illustrative)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Imagine a drug that could treat a series of incurable diseases. An Israeli company, whose treatments are based on research first conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, say they can stop death – the death of body tissue, that is.
Meet ElaPharma and its founders Prof. Ilana Nathan and Roi Paul Nathan. The company is developing a treatment for what is known scientifically as necrosis, the main mode of death of body tissue, associated with a wide array of diseases that currently have no drug-based cure.
“ElaPharma’s unique technology is nothing less than a paradigm shift – stopping cell death,” Roi Paul Nathan, who is also the company’s CEO, told The Jerusalem Post. He said that “our novel technology is addressing the cellular necrosis pathway. We target the cellular injury that leads to cell death and organ failure using molecules that inhibit necrosis.
Prof. Amnon Albeck participated in the research.
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“The idea is that we can live longer and in better health and stop diseases that don’t have a cure,” Nathan added.
The company, which has several patents and is in its preclinical stage, believes it could revolutionize the treatment of a number of diseases, from heart attack and stroke to liver and pancreatic disease and even Alzheimer’s and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Let us say a person suffers from a heart attack, Nathan described. He is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and the emergency responders fight to keep him alive. His cells are already dying due to lack of oxygen.
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ElaPharma, which was founded in 2015, is developing a drug that would be administered in such cases to stop necrosis already in the ambulance, giving the patient a better shot at staying alive and preventing further damage to the heart.
In the case of a stroke, for example, the company’s drug would be meant to stop the cell death process early on, hopefully preventing speech and memory loss, which is often associated with stroke trauma.
The company spent more than 15 years identifying the key mechanism involved in the necrosis process and found molecules that inhibit enzyme activation, hence delaying cell death. Nathan said it will still be a number of more years to get the drug on the market, due to the need for clinical trials of the optimal molecules that were identified for therapeutic purposes. The hope is that a product for the treatment of necrosis associated with heart attacks would be available by 2029 and a similar treatment for necrosis associated with chronic heart failure by 2031 – in line with the standard timeline for pharmaceuticals.

Myocardial infarction (Credit: ING)Myocardial infarction (Credit: ING)
In vivo studies showed 85% effectiveness in stopping liver failure and 80% improvement in results following traumatic brain injury.
“After that, we knew we had something amazing in hand,” Nathan told the Post.
In addition to these drugs, ElaPharma is also developing a new solution for organ preservation that would increase the shelf-life of organs and therefore enable more successful transplantations. Organ shortage is known to be among the greatest crises facing biomedicine today.
Its organ preservation solution is expected to be released to the market within three years, as it is under the Food and Drug Administrations’ medical device regulatory path, which is less involved.
“We have addressed a fundamental challenge in the field of organ transplantation,” Nathan said, “extending the period during which an organ can be kept alive after its removal, preventing cellular injury through the inhibition of necrotic cell death.”
Recently, a leading strategic investor and a few more angels invested in ElaPharma and achieved 65% of the raising round. The company is looking to raise additional capital and the opportunity to invest is still open, but only for the near future.
“We are on the right path to find a cure for the incurable and prolong life,” Nathan said.
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This article was written in cooperation with Smart Funding.