By Karen Young

Rivka Sherman-Gold recently took the lead role at Alydar Pharmaceuticals Inc., and is busy plotting strategy for the American-Israeli company founded in 1999.

Her near-term goals are to raise funds to support continued development of Alydar¿s product platform and of selected therapeutic products; to establish partnerships with genomics, proteomics and other life science companies that have novel drug targets, screening assays or animal models addressing Alydar¿s areas of interest; and to expand the company¿s collaborations with academic researchers who study novel drug targets, disease-relevant signal transduction mechanisms and disease models.

¿Our primary focus is to raise additional funds,¿ said President and CEO Sherman-Gold, who has served on privately held Alydar¿s board of directors for a year, as well as more recently having served as a consultant to the company. Previously, she was director of business development at Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif.

To date, Alydar¿s funding has come from Medison Biotech, the investment arm of the Medison Group. The Medison Group owns Medison Pharma, which is based in Israel with U.S. offices in New York and San Diego. Alydar, of Mountain View, Calif., is now seeking Series A funding.

Alydar has six employees ¿ three in the U.S. and three in Israel. In addition to Sherman-Gold in the U.S., there is a chemist and a chief business officer. In Israel there is a director of research, a medical director and the chief scientific officer, Nadav Zamir, who founded the company.

The company¿s areas of interest include cardiovascular, cancer, neurological and psychiatric diseases, as well as pain. Its technology platform is called Pheromics, which is the development of drugs from a library of pure, synthetic compounds whose structures are based on infochemicals and their derivatives and analogues.

¿Pheromics is the basis of our product platform, so it¿s a concept, and the concept refers to the use of a library of infochemicals,¿ Sherman-Gold said. ¿We have a library that is highly diverse and has a large number of structural prototypes. We are screening those scaffolds, those infochemicals, in disease models, and that includes both in vitro and in vivo animal models.¿

Infochemicals serve as communication vehicles between animals of the same species (pheromones) and animals of different species (allelochemicals). Animals and humans communicate with one another by emitting chemicals, and Alydar is studying the molecular responses such chemicals elicit in humans and how they can be used in drug development.

Sherman-Gold said the goal is to hit on compounds, then apply medicinal chemistry and combinatorial chemistry technologies. The company then identifies the lead compounds that result from more expanded high-throughput screening. The best resulting compounds are then tested further with the goal of moving them toward human trials.

The success of the compounds is based on their ability to affect specific signal transduction pathways implicated in several disease models.

¿We have identified several hit compounds and also lead compounds in three diseases,¿ Sherman-Gold said. ¿We are not disclosing the actual diseases, but two are in cardiovascular and one is in cancer.¿

Alydar will further optimize the compounds and take them through preclinical development.

¿One thing that is important for me to communicate with people is that the novelty is in the infochemicals, but in terms of product development, it really is standard and there is no increased risk in taking those products through development,¿ Sherman-Gold said.

The company gets the infochemicals from scientists in academia in the United States, Europe and Japan, she said.

¿We have an international network of advisers,¿ Sherman-Gold said.

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