ONCONASE expands to Israel as meso concerns there grow

15 Jul 2008 by under News, Research/Treatment

Today Alfacell, the manufacturer of ONCONASE, announced it will begin distribution of the mesothelioma drug in Israel. The company will partner with Megapharm, Ltd., a leading pharmaceutical company in Israel. ONCONASE recently completed an international confirmatory Phase IIIb clinical trial for unresectable malignant mesothelioma.

The news comes just a day after Haaretz.com, a leading news outlet in Israel, noted that asbestos-related cancer is 10 times more prevalent in Nahariya, a city of approximately 50,000 located in the North District of Israel on the Mediterranean sea, just south of the Lebanese border at Rosh HaNikra, than it is in the rest of the country. The report is based on data submitted by the chief doctor of the Health Ministry’s Acre District.

The medical report was presented to the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, which is currently calling for greater action from Nahariya’s government to address the problem. The story quotes Tamar Bar On, head of the Environment Ministry’s Asbestos Department, as saying that “between 70 to 150 thousand cubic meters of asbestos [can] be found scattered across the Western Galilee, mainly in private yards.”

Committee MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) has been selected by the committee to chair a panel dedicated to addressing the asbestos problem in Nahariya.

Alfacell will manufacture and supply ONCONASE to Megapharm, while Megapharm will be responsible for all activities and costs related to regulatory filings and commercial activities in a defined marketing territory, according to an Alfacell press release.

ONCONASE is a first-in-class therapeutic product candidate based on Alfacell’s proprietary ribonuclease (RNase) technology. A natural protein isolated from the leopard frog, ONCONASE has been shown in the laboratory and clinic to target cancer cells while sparing normal cells. ONCONASE triggers apoptosis, the natural death of cells, via multiple molecular mechanisms of action.

ONCONASE has been granted fast track status and orphan-drug designation for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma by the FDA. Additionally, ONCONASE has been granted orphan-drug designation in the European Union and Australia.

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