Bad News For Sea Nymphs and Sirens: A $282 Million Seaweed Deal Heals Broken Hearts
Seaweed liquid morphs into gel to sheath heart muscles after attackNot too shabby considering the product is based on a common brown seaweed: an Israeli pharmaceutical company BioLineRx has just in-licensed a new heart smart remedy to heal hearts after a first heart attack.
The deal worth $282 million for BioLineRx constitutes the most expensive seaweed deal in history possibly surpassing the use of seaweed in biofuel; the solution amazingly novel: a liquid formulation based on seaweed is injected into the heart after a cardiac event. Once in the heart, it morphs into a gel creating a scaffold giving room for the heart to heal. Based on research by Prof. Smadar Cohen from Ben Gurion University and Prof. Jonathan Leor from Tel Aviv University, it solves a huge unmet need in the heart disease market: how to let the damaged heart muscles heal after an initial attack. We all know how too common it is for secondary and tertiary attacks to occur after the first one, and BioLineRx’s seaweed gel could prevent additional attacks from occurring.
I got a chance to interview the company after the huge investment news was announced, and this is what I learned about this novel solution, pulled from the sea:
Called the BL-1040, the material has been licensed by the New Jersey-based company Ikaria Holdings in a $282.5 million deal, confirmed a BioLineRx representative, Dganit Bar.
Key points in deal
• Ikaria now owns the worldwide exclusive license to BL-1040, and what could be a potential breakthrough treatment for preventing repeat heart attacks after an initial event.
• Injected into the heart as a liquid, when inside the body BL-1040 turns into a protective gel scaffold, sheathing the heart muscles and giving them the ability to heal properly.
• In effect it enhances the mechanical strength of the heart muscle during recovery and repair.
• Animal model experiments completed by the company earlier revealed that some 90 percent of animals treated with the gel survived a heart attack, while among those untreated, only 40% survived.
“We are very excited about this deal," said Bar explaining that BioLineRx, a publicly traded company in Israel, was created to in-license early stage medical research, and to take promising ideas and turn them into commercial products.
The latest trial, Bar continues, is a clinical trial consisting of 23 human patients in Germany and Belgium. "They are doing fine," she says.
Toxicity tests have shown the product is safe, and "we did have some hints on its efficacy," she adds, stressing the main points were safety.
"We also have extensive pre-clinical data and saw that it was very effective in preventative cardiac remodeling," says Bar. "The BL-1040 is being injected in the body in the occluded vessel; it gets into the ischemic tissue and turns into a gel from a liquid -- which like a solid -- prevents the heart from dilating and prevents damage."
Based on brown seaweed, with other active ingredients, don’t try it yourself at home kids. According to Bar now that the product has financing it could see very swift development: as early as 2012 the compound could be ready for use.
Reading news like this gives us all the more reasons to protect our environment, and look to Mother Nature for cures. No?
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