Globes [online] is reporting that “Israel Angels Management Ltd., the country’s largest group of angel investors, is investing $1.3 million in biotechnology start-up Medgenics Ltd.” The company is engaged in developing a therapeutic platform to treat a range of disorders, all of which have endogenous proteins and polypeptides missing and are required for the treatment. In simple terms, the company believes that it can modify a patient’s own cells to continuously produce missing proteins. According to Medgenics’ website, “The company has demonstrated proof of principle in clinical trials delivering erythropoietin (EPO) to anemic patients. In this tissue-based technique, a small sliver of the patient’s own skin is converted into a unit for the production and delivery of the required therapeutic protein.”
Here are some additional interesting details on how the firm’s ex vivo transduction of human dermal tissue for production and release of therapeutic proteins technology, dubbed the Biopump treatment, should function:
In a simple outpatient procedure, the physician takes a proprietary toothpick-sized tissue sample (microorgan) via needle biopsy from under the patient’s skin. During the next ten days, Medgenics technology converts or processes the tissue into a biopump, a personalized production plant for a specific protein.
Next, the biopump is re-injected under the patient’s skin, where it produces and delivers the protein for at least four to six months.
Sustained action protein therapy represents new hope for patients with severe anemia and hepatitis-C. Anemia patients face months or years of expensive injections of erythropoietin (EPO), an $11 billon market in 2005. Likewise, hepatitis-C sufferers must face months of injections of interferon-alpha (IFNa). That is, if they are among the fortunate 50% of such patients who can tolerate the severe side effects often caused by the overshoot of each IFNa injection. More than $3.5b in IFNa was injected in 2005.
The therapeutic effect of proteins such as EPO and IFNa wears off within hours after injections. Even in the ideal case that no injections are missed — which they often are — this means that patients largely remain without an effective dose between injections. Hence, frequent injections, with their overshoot and quick drop-off, are not a very reliable or efficient way to deliver proteins and their therapeutic benefits.
More details from the article from Molecular Therapy (Mol Ther. 2005 Aug;12(2):274-82.) : Ex Vivo Transduction of Human Dermal Tissue Structures for Autologous Implantation Production and Delivery of Therapeutic Proteins. (link .pdf)