Medical Device Daily Correspondent

and Staff Reports

TEL AVIV, Israel – The Bio-Tech Israel 2005 meeting held at the David Intercontinental Hotel late last month attracted more than 1,000 registered participants and 110 exhibitors.

Bio-Tech Israel was sponsored by the industry lobby and umbrella organization Israel Life Science Industry (ILSI), along with Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI).

For the first time, the 15-member organizing committee of the meeting actively sought the participation of medical device and emerging technology companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs.

“We agreed that a holistic approach is today the most effective way to address unmet medical needs. The most comprehensive solutions converge from across disciplines to improve the human condition,” Aharon Schwartz, Bio-Tech Israel 2005 chairperson, told Medical Device Daily.

“Most of us are providers of healthcare solutions, so we sought a new integrated and convergent format for the meeting, focusing on cancer, respiratory and inflammatory disorders, CNS and metabolic disorders,” said Schwartz, who is senior vice president of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (Jerusalem).

In his global biotechnology prospective, Steven Burrill, CEO of the life sciences merchant bank Burrill & Co. (San Francisco), told MDD that his firm looks all over the world for innovative integrated technologies, adding that he would “like to see more mail in my inbox from Israelis.”

The future, Burrill said, would include more personalized medicine, in form, dose, and scheduling, based on in silico modeling. Also, diagnosis will become increasingly linked to therapy – that matchup being termed “theranostics” – with more sophisticated use of genomics and proteomics, Burrill said.

Traditionally, Western science and medicine have focused on illness, but Burrill said that wellness or proactive prevention and lifestyle would become a bio-pharma target. Diet, and vitamin and mineral supplements will evolve into more science-based nutraceuticals as they become formulated on personal genomics, proteonomics, glycomics and other metabolite knowledge.

The global life science financial perspective was presented by Frederick Frank, vice chairman of Lehman Brothers (New York). Frank told MDD that biotechnology and other scientific advancements would not be able to reach full value in a world that does not stick to social mores and bioethics, from child-rearing to patient consent. He also suggested creative structuring of financing and called for partnerships to bring new treatments to market that have not historically been defined as “economically viable.”

Leroy Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology (Seattle), developed the first automated DNA sequencer in 1985 that Applied BioSystems (Foster City, California) brought to market in 1986, jump-starting the genomics revolution. He said to probe new meaningful molecular-level findings in biology requires not only new technology but integrated knowledge of complex living systems.

After his speech, he reminded others over coffee that when the Human Genome Project just began, it was “more bookkeeping than discovery science.”

IBDX kit gets CE mark

Glycominds (Lod, Israel) reported that it has received the CE mark for its IBDX products. The IBDX kit is a series of blood tests for Crohn’s disease, enabling differential diagnosis between Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

“For the first time there is now a highly reliable way for doctors to test patients presenting with the very similar symptoms that occur in chronic gastrointestinal conditions,” said Avinoam Dukler, Glycominds CEO. “We expect the IBDX to revolutionize the way in which these conditions are diagnosed.”

He said the product line is “a significant advance over existing tests, offering a simple non-invasive blood test with improved sensitivity and specificity.” The IBDX kits have nearly 80% sensitivity compared to the 50% level common in existing tests, the company said. “Using two different IBDX markers together increases specificity to 99%,” said Dukler.

Dr. Nir Dotan, chief technology officer, added: “IBDX [has] the unique capability of being able to stratify Crohn’s disease patients according to the location of the disease. This will enable doctors to more readily identify and better treat patients with Crohn’s colitis, a form of Crohn’s disease that is especially hard to diagnose.”

The IBDX is the first in a series of blood tests for autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases that Glycominds is developing based on its proprietary glycomics technology.

Glycominds is developing personalized tests for multiple sclerosis, anti-phospolipid syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. Its gMS product for multiple sclerosis is expected to be a high-value diagnostics and prognostic test to stratify MS patients and assist physicians in selecting appropriate treatment earlier.

The goal is to enable earlier diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and predict whether patients will have clinical or sub-clinical events within the coming months.

At the core of Glycominds’ biomarker discovery engine is the GlycoChip – an array of diverse glycan molecules covalently attached to a solid surface. This technology is used to identify interactions between the glycans on the chip and antibodies in solution.

Compugen in development accord

Compugen Ltd. (Tel Aviv) reported a collaboration agreement with Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics (Raritan, New Jersey), a Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, New Jersey) company, for the development and commercialization of immunoassay diagnostic markers.

Under the agreement, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics and Compugen will jointly develop diagnostic products based on biomarkers discovered by Compugen. Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics will have worldwide rights for commercialization, with Compugen receiving development milestones and royalties.

In the initial phase, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics will have the right to select up to nine biomarkers for development from Compugen’s portfolio, with the companies then collaborating on the initial clinical validation of the selected biomarkers. Successfully validated biomarkers will be developed into products and commercialized by Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, with Compugen receiving milestone payments and license fees for each commercialized biomarker, in addition to revenue-based royalties.

Mor Amitai, president and CEO of Compugen, said, “This transaction is an important commercialization opportunity for us. We look forward to collaborating with Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics in this new arrangement, to identifying novel proteins with specific desired characteristics and to continue to provide valuable targets for commercialization both to our corporate partners as well as for our own therapeutic development programs.”

Equity interest sold

Healthcare Technologies (Petach Tikva) has completed the sale of its equity interest in Procognia to Healthcare’s principal stockholder, Gamida-for-Life, following the receipt of stockholder approval for the transaction at Healthcare Technologies’ special general meeting of stockholders late last month.

The completion of the transaction will result in an increase in Healthcare’s stockholders’ equity, which was about $2 million as of March 31, by about $4.8 million as a result of the deconsolidation of Procognia’s accumulated losses from Healthcare’s balance sheet.

As a result, the company has regained compliance with the Nasdaq market’s minimum stockholders’ equity requirement.

Healthcare Technologies, through its subsidiaries and affiliate – Gamidor Diagnostics, Danyel Biotech and Savyon Diagnostics – specializes in manufacturing clinical diagnostic test kits, and also provides services and tools to diagnostic and biotech researchers in laboratory and point-of-care sites worldwide.