6 April 2016

Third cancer drug to use Weizmann patent

A new drug recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat a specific type of lung cancer, is the third cancer drug on the market that uses a Weizmann Institute of Science patent.

This patent is designed to block a receptor on the surface of cells called the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) which is implicated in cancer development.

Some years ago, studies by Professor Michael Sela and colleagues Dr Esther Aboud-Pirak and Dr Esther Hurwitz from Weizmann’s Immunology Department, discovered that EGFR-inhibiting antibodies produce an anti-cancer effect if used in combination with chemotherapy.  This discovery was then patented and has now a third anti-cancer drug affiliated to it.

Mr Amir Naiberg, CEO of the Yeda Research and Development Company – the commercialisation arm of Weizmann’s research – applauded the latest approval.

“It’s a great achievement of technology transfer.  A single patent has led to three licensing agreements and three different therapies for various malignancies,” he said.

These three EGFR blocker drugs, given to cancer patients with certain genetic features, are helping save lives around the world.

The new drug is called Portrazza (manufactured by Eli Lilly) and is delivered by intravenous injection, combined with chemotherapy drugs to treat metastatic squamous non-small cell lung carcinoma, for which there are limited treatment options.  During a phase III clinical trial Portrazza used in combination was shown to improve survival of patients.

The first drug on the market using the Weizmann patent is called Erbitux (manufactured by Merck and Eli Lilly) and is approved in many countries for use in combination with chemotherapy or radiation to treat head and neck cancers plus metastatic colorectal cancer.

The second is Vectibix (manufactured by Amgen), again approved for use in combination with chemotherapy or sometimes, if the chemotherapy fails, alone.  This is also for treating metastatic colorectal cancer.

Recent blog posts

view all +

17 September 2020 | Videos, Weizmann in Israel

Bacteria Could Provide Us with the Next Antivirals

By tracking the evolution of what may be our oldest means of fighting off viral infection, a group at the Weizmann Institute of Science has uncovered a gold mine of...

read more +

16 September 2020 | Weizmann in Israel

Profiling COVID-19

A research team at the Weizmann Institute of Science and Israel Institute for Biological Research, in Ness Ziona, Israel, has a new approach to understanding the COVID-19 virus that may...

read more +

9 September 2020 | Weizmann in Israel, Weizmann in the News

Young at Heart: Restoring Cardiac Function with a Matrix Molecule

Pre-clinical studies at the Weizmann Institute of Research suggest a protein called Agrin could limit scarring and promote natural repair mechanisms after a heart attack. Heart disease is the number...

read more +