FutuRx, an Israeli biotechnology incubator located in Weizmann Science Park, announced that its first two biotechnology companies, Hepy Biosciences and XoNovo, have started operations. The companies are developing new approaches and candidate drugs in oncology and neurodegenerative disease.
Established through a collaboration among OrbiMed Israel Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, through its venture group Takeda Ventures, Inc., FutuRx, became operational on January 1st 2014 and plans to house 30-40 start-up companies during the next eight years.
Hepy Biosciences Ltd. was established based on the work of Professor 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. Hepy Biosciences is developing a candidate drug that inhibits a specific enzyme activity to stop tumor growth and metastasis. The drug will be considered for pancreatic and lung cancers as well as other potential indications.
XoNovo Ltd. was founded by Dr. Rafi Gidron, the founder and chairman of Israel Brain Technologies and cofounder 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.
“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 develop potentially transformative new medicines, ” noted Dr. Einat Zisman, CEO of FutuRx.
“This partnership between the Government and Industry will make an important contribution to innovation and to the establishment of more biotechnology companies that will promote the life sciences industry, ” said Anya Eldan, GM Incubator Program at the Office of the Chief Scientist.
“Each company that achieves milestones will attain funding of at least $2 million for a period of three years. Government participation is up to 85% of that budget and the financing of the remainder by the Incubator partners enables investment in high-risk companies that otherwise would not have been able to obtain financing. This structure will support the growth of the biopharmaceutical industry in the State of Israel.” Eldan said.