NeuroSense Therapeutics, managed by CEO Alon Ben-Noon, is commencing development of a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Patients with the disease experience rapid deterioration in their functioning, and have a life expectancy of 2-5 years. A number of companies are operating in the sector in Israel, including Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics Ltd. (Bulletin Board:BCLI), Kadimastem Ltd. (TASE: KDST), and also previous cooperation between Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) and Proneuron Biotechnologies, a startup.
No effective treatment for ALS exists, so the regulatory authorities are lenient in the process for registering products in this sphere - one of the factors that attracts Israeli companies to it.
NeuroSense is based on technology developed by Prof. Eran Hornstein of the Weizmann Institute, who discovered that a small molecule used in the market for a different disease can also be active in treating ALS. Since the product is already in the market, and since the disease involved has priority, the company believes that if everything goes as planned, it will be able to bring the drug to the market within five years - a very short time for drug development.
According to Ben-Noon, Hornstein noticed a micro-RNA molecule lacking in the muscles of ALS patients. RNA is the material that “translates” genes into proteins, the material that makes up most of the body and transmits information within it. Micro-RNA molecules usually reflect genes that are not encoded proteins, but which constitute control mechanisms for other genes that are encoded proteins. Hornstein discovered that the molecule, which is already in use as medicine, causes an increase in the level of the missing micro-RNA. In laboratory animals in which this mechanism was deliberately damaged, phenomena similar to ALS were discovered.
The company is planning to enter a Phase Ib trial that mainly tests safety, but can also provide hints about the product’s effectiveness, in the fourth quarter of this year. If the results are successful, the company will continue on to a Phase II/III trial, in which good results can already lead to approval. NeuroSense has received a $1 million grant, and wants to raise $2 million.