BioWorld International Correspondent

ZICHRON YA'AKOV, Israel - BioLineRx Ltd. is aiming to become Israel's first national and private drug development consortium.

BioLineRx signed technology transfer agreements with Ramot and Bar-Ilan Research and Development Co. Ltd. (BIRAD), allowing BioLineRx to develop novel compounds and treatments for neurological disorders including schizophrenia, as well as neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

At the same time, Star Ventures (Israel) in Herzlia and Yehuda Zisapel brought $4 million into BioLineRX as founding investors, bringing the initial capital committed to $15 million.

Morris Laster, CEO of BioLineRx, told BioWorld International, "Our in-licensing strategy aims to build a robust product pipeline of ethical pharmaceutical and bio-engineered products for out-licensing to leading global marketers, fortifying our position as national consortium for the development of ethical drugs in Israel." He said that six projects would be adopted each year.

The drug targets were developed jointly by researchers at the Tel Aviv and Bar-Ilan universities. The first indication targeted will be schizophrenia. BioLineRx is completing feasibility testing before embarking on a full-scale preclinical development program, Laster said.

Other founders in the company include Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd.; Pitango Venture Capital; Giza Venture Capital; Hadasit, the development subsidiary Hadassah Medical Center; and the Jerusalem Development Authority.

Zachi Berger, Star Ventures' investment manager of health care, will join BioLineRx's board. About 50 percent of Star Venture's nearly $1 billion under management is invested in Israel-related companies. Star Ventures also has facilities in Munich, Germany, with additional offices in Dallas.