A Cure For Crohn’s Disease? Israeli Entrepreneurs On Quest To Whip Gut Bacteria
This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Two kibbutz dwellers turned investment bankers and now entrepreneurs are on a quest to bring relief to patients who suffer from debilitative gastrointestinal diseases, including ulcers and Crohn’s disease, by tackling bacteria they believe to be at the root of the ailments.
The biotech company founded by Dror Ben-Asher and Ori Shilo, RedHill Biopharma, which is traded both in Tel Aviv and on the Nasdaq, is conducting late-stage clinical trials for several drugs, including two that aim to tackle Crohn’s disease and H. pylori, the bacteria that is the root of ulcers and a major cause of gastric cancer.
RedHill also has a pipeline of other advanced clinical-stage experimental medications in the works, as a way to spread out risk, and has recently entered into an accord with Concordia Pharmaceuticals to promote Donnatal, a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome in the US.
Last week, the company said it signed an exclusive license agreement with US firm Entera Health for the exclusive rights to a commercially available medical food, EnteraGam, for the management of chronic diarrhea which must be administered under medical supervision.
The two US accords will help the company generate revenues and RedHill is currently setting up its US commercial infrastructure and salesforce, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, as it waits for its other products to ripen and get the potential approvals needed from the US FDA.
Ben-Asher and Shilo are childhood friends who grew up in Givat Brenner, a kibbutz two kilometers south of Rehovot that grows cotton, avocado, wheat and corn. It also overlooks a soothing earth-red hill, sun-drenched and dotted with green shrubs, that became the inspiration for the name of their company.
Ben-Asher and Shilo are not scientists. Their background, prior to founding RedHill in 2009, is in finance and investments. Ben-Asher, who served in an elite air force commando unit, went on to get law degrees in Oxford and Harvard focusing on pharmaceutical industry related topics, and then decided to set up the business.
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