PET Scan of Alzheimer's brain
PET Scan of Alzheimer's brain Israel news photo: (file)

A novel medication designed to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and improve its psychological symptoms is entering advanced clinical trials.

The drug, Ladostigil, has proven in Phase I and II-A trials to be safe and well-tolerated, enabling the company to proceed with an additional 52-week proof-of-efficacy trial in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Israeli-based Avraham Pharmaceuticals received an infusion of $9 million that allowed the project to go forward. Investors include the Yissum Research Development Company -- the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem -- Clal Biotechnology Industries (CBI), Pontifax and Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin.

If all goes well and the medication goes to market, Yissum and the Technion Research and Development Foundation (TRDF) – the technology transfer arm of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology – will exclusively license to Avraham the commercial licensing rights to the drug.

Ladostigil is a novel cholinesterase inhibitor, brain-selective monoamine oxidase inhibitor and neuroprotective agent designed to slow the progression of the clinical symptoms of the disease for a sustained period. It may also possibly modify its pathology, as well as that of other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's.

It is a multi-functional medication that may also improve the behavioral and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, that are associated with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, affecting one in every 20 individuals worldwide age 65 and older, and nearly half of those over age 85. In 2009, 5.3 million people were affected by Alzheimer's disease in the United States, where some 360,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.

Professor Weinstock-Rosin, connected with Hebrew University's School of Pharmacy, has been involved in Alzheimer's research for years. She and Professor Moussa B.H. Youdim of the Eve Top and National Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence Rappaport School of Medicine at the Technion in Haifa collaborated on developing the concept for Ladostigil.

It was Weinstock-Rosin's research that led to the discovery and development of Exelon, a medication used to treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, licensed to Novartis Pharma AG. Youdim was responsible for the discovery and development of Azilect, a new treatment for Parkinson's, licensed to Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals.

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