Israeli kidney-cells startup gets backing from billionaire Kahn’s venture arm

KidneyCure Ltd., a biotech firm that uses personalized cell therapy to help improve the function of kidneys, nabs funding from investors including Morris Kahn’s Aurum Ventures

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative: A dialysis machine to treat kidney disease. (Picsfive; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: A dialysis machine to treat kidney disease. (Picsfive; iStock by Getty Images)

An Israeli startup that is developing a way to use a patient’s cells to treat damaged kidneys, has received the backing of the South African born Israeli billionaire and philanthropist Morris Kahn.

KidneyCure Ltd., the biotech firm that is developing a new cell-therapy technology for treating advanced chronic kidney disease, said it has completed a financing round with investors including Aurum Ventures, the technology investment arm of Kahn, and Direct Insurance Financial Investments.

The new investors join KidneyCure’s existing backers, including Jonathan Leitersdorf, Prof. John Finberg and Gilad Altshuler Holdings. The investment from Aurum Ventures and Direct Insurance brings the total amount raised by KidneyCure to $4 million.

KidneyCure is developing cell-based personalized medicine therapy that compensates for renal cell depletion by injecting the patients with renal stem cells attained from the patients’ own cells. Upon administration, these cells are expected to significantly improve kidney function, prevent the formation of fibrotic renal tissue, and delay the progression of the disease, the company said.

Dr Alon Yaar, the CEO of KidneyCure Ltd. (Moshik Brin)

A substantial delay in the need for dialysis and kidney transplantation will be the expected major benefit of the treatment, the company said.

KidneyCure’s team is led by its CEO Dr. Alon Yaar, a serial entrepreneur, who served as founder and former CEO at Neuroderm, an Israeli pharmaceutical company that was bought by by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma in 2017 for $1.1 billion. The chief scientific and medical adviser of at the firm is Prof. Benjamin Dekel, a specialist in nephrology, human renal progenitor cells and renal regenerative medicine.

“The new funds from Aurum and Direct Insurance will enable us to accelerate our R&D process and meet the goal of completing all regulatory requirements to bring us to the start of clinical trials,” said the CEO Yaar in a statement announcing the funding. KidneyCure offers a new regenerative medicine technology for treating advanced stages of chronic renal disease “that currently have no treatment or cure,” he said.

Some 30 million people, or 15 percent of US adults are estimated to have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 10% of the population worldwide is affected by CKD, and millions die every year, because of lack of access to affordable treatment, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

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