ARTSaVIT, a company developing a cancer drug, has completed a $6.3 financing round. The company is slated to enter the Merck Ventures incubator in Yavne operating under Inter-Lab, the Israeli drug development division of German company Merck Serono. Mori Arkin’s Arkin Bio Ventures led the round together with the Pontifax fund, with participation from Merck Ventures.
The company is developing a treatment for cancer that involves activating a controlled cell-killing mechanism – an apoptosis mechanism. At the center of the technology is the ARTS protein – a protein identified and specified by Prof. Larisch that is essential to the planned death process. This process operates in the body as a defense mechanism that destroys impaired and dangerous cells. The ARTS protein can dismantle a number of proteins within the cancer cells that protect those cells from the apoptosis mechanism. The expected result is a clean and controlled death of the cancerous cells, after the body again regains its ability to identify them as impaired.
Up until now, ARTSaVIT has operated in the Carmel framework at Haifa University, but will now move to the Yavne incubator. This incubator, launched in 2011 in order to invest and promote biomedicine innovation in Israel, offers both seed financing and access to special laboratories in the Inter-Lab framework. The incubator already has five companies, one of which has received an investment from the Arkin and Pontifax funds.
Merck Ventures Israel biotechnology fund and incubator manager Dr. Rom Eliaz notes, “We’re glad to join forces with Arkin Bio Ventures, Pontifax, and Carmel.” Carmel Economic Corporation CEO amd Carmel Innovations Investment Fund CEO Elka Nir added, “We’re very proud and glad that important and leading investors in this field are joining the company. This significant investment reflects the quality of the research and researchers at Haifa University.” She said that Carmel Innovations had been founded two years ago, and was providing initial funding for promising ventures at the university on the basis of the university’s intellectual property.