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RNA engineering to combat series of illnesses wins Kaye Award for Hebrew University dean
Date:6/26/2008

ion of engineered human cholinesterase and RNA-targeted agents to suppress its functioning has been patented by Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Over the years, this technology has won over $5 million in research grants and has generated a significant patent portfolio.

As an example of one way in which this manipulation can deal with protein excess or deficiency, Prof. Soreq cites the work being done by the PharmAthene Company in Annapolis, Maryland. This company, under license from Yissum, has developed a herd of goats which had been engineered to produce the human cholinesterase BCHE protein in their milk. PharmAthene, which has already signed a $219 million contract with the US Army to produce human BCHE for protection against nerve gas poisoning, has recently expanded its license with Yissum to include the use of BCHE for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease as well.

Another example of possible human application involves one of the protein variants produced from the closely related ACHE gene. The activity of this protein is blocked in persons who have suffered nerve gas poisoning. This human ACHE protein is now being produced under license from Yissum in engineered carrot cells developed by an Israeli company, Protalix, based in Carmiel.

A Tel Aviv startup, Ester Neurosciences, was established to exploit the promising technology developed by Prof. Soreq by developing a drug based on blocking the production of the ACHE protein in patients suffering from muscle weakening diseases.

EN101, the DNA-based lead compound utilizing this technology, has already been tested on patients with the auto-immune disease myasthenia gravis and has successfully reached phase II clinical trials. The results thus far suggest EN101 may have superior efficacy, longer duration of action, a more favorable side effect profile and dosing regimen, as compared with the currently used drug, which targets the
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Contact: Rebecca Zeffert
rebeccaz@savion.huji.ac.il
972-025-881-641
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert

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