Immune System Key (ISK) Ltd.
Sector: Biotechnology - Therapeutics
Medical Field: Oncology
Technological Field: Immune modulation and apoptosis
Year Established: 2005
ISK was founded in 2005 by by Dr. Yoram Devary, Chairman of the Biochemistry Department and Prof. Uziel Sandler of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the Jerusalem College of Technology. ISK’s objective is to develop a new therapeutic drug that can distinguish between cancer cells and healthy cells, and induce programmed cell death in cancer cells only, a process known as Apoptosis. Apoptosis is a genetically directed process of cell self destruction that is marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA, activated either by the presence of a stimulus or removal of a suppressing agent or stimulus, and is a normal physiological process eliminating DNA-damaged, superfluous, or unwanted cells. The strategy of developing such a drug promises greater specificity and effectiveness while reducing adverse effects.
ISK has succeeded in isolating and cloning a novel protein, Nerofe in the human thymus. Nerofe plays a pivotal role in the natural constitutively active apoptosis process. The thymus is a glandular structure of largely lymphoid tissue that mainly functions in the development of the body’s immune system. Nerofe, this apoptosis-inducing protein is selectively expressed in the human thymus in Hassal’s Corpuscles where negative selection of cells takes place.
ISK is currently carrying out pre-clinical trials to establish initial safety and pharmacological profiles of Nerofe. The company hopes to develop a drug candidate for the treatment of breast and lung cancers. In addition Nerofe shows promise as a treatment for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, disorders of the intestinal system that cause inflammation of the small and large intestines, and are collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD). Both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcertive Colitis are chronic and affect men and women approximately equally. It is most common in northern Europe and North America although the precise cause of Crohn’s Disease remains unknown.