BUSINESS: Israel’s new AIDS cure soon to be marketed


Zion Pharmaceutical, founded 30 months ago to manufacture the AIDS and cancer treatment drugs developed by Prof. Abraham Loyter of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is seeking the finances to enter the market.

By Gali Weinreb of the Globes


Last week, a new HIV treatment hit the headlines, after it had been tested in the blood of ten patients and found effective in the destruction of cells infected with AIDS – without damaging healthy cells. The drug was developed by Prof. Abraham Loyter from the Hebrew University, and the technology has been commercialized through a company called Zion Pharmaceutical by Yissum, the Hebrew University’s technology commercialization company. “Globes” has learned that the company, led by private investors who meanwhile maintain their anonymity, is considering an offering, probably on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. At this stage, the company does not have a CEO.

Packaged pharmaceuticals – Photo: public domain

One of the company’s investors is Arie Ovadia, a board member, consultant and investor in many companies, including several medical technology companies.

“The company was founded two and a half years ago and raised about $4 million. The financing was aimed at developing Prof. Loyter’s technology for AIDS and cancer treatment,” Ovadia told “Globes” in an exclusive interview. “We are currently spending about $150,000-200,000 per month and will require a further financing round in 4-7 months. We conducted a meeting at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, but we probably need a larger sum than the local stock exchange could offer. We might choose to combine a private fund raising with a public offering, both in the US and in Israel. We plan on starting a road show in the US in a few months.”

Speaking about Gammora, the HIV treatment he has developed, Prof. Loyter said, “During the infection of cells by the HIV virus, the genes of the virus infiltrate the cell and become part of its DNA. We have developed peptides that speed up the integration process of the virus within the cell and thus instead of receiving a molecule or two of DNA, the cell receives 8 or 10 molecules in one go. It sounds like something that apparently helps the virus but in practice the cell cannot hold so much new DNA, so that following the attack it goes into a state of controlled death. The significance of this is that our treatment causes the virus only to kill the cells in the body that it infects.”


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