Israeli pharma firm to develop alternative to Viagra
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Israeli pharma firm to develop alternative to Viagra

Can-Fite is set to be granted a US patent for its CF602 drug, which, among other things, battles erectile dysfunction

Can-Fite corporate official at the New York Stock Exchange December 4, 2014, the day the stock began trading on the NYSE (Courtesy)
Can-Fite corporate official at the New York Stock Exchange December 4, 2014, the day the stock began trading on the NYSE (Courtesy)

An Israeli pharmaceutical firm could be the next big producer of erectile dysfunction treatments. Petah Tikvah-based Can-Fite announced Tuesday that the US Patent and Trademark Office (one of the last stages before the actual granting of a patent) issued a Notice of Allowance for the company’s “A3 Adenosine Receptor Allosteric Modulators,” a method which acts on G protein–coupled receptors to regulate the behavior of receptors that interact with adenosine, which control cell proliferation, nerve cell activity, and other functions.

The patent is being issued for all of Can-Fite’s “proprietary A3 Adenosine Receptor (A3AR) modulator therapy, including the preparation of its pharmaceutical compositions and its use in patients across all therapeutic indication.” The company’s latest project involves “developing this invention for the treatment of sexual dysfunction with its next-generation drug, CF602.”

In research on the effects of adenosine on diabetes (using rats as subjects), Can-Fite researchers saw that the treatment they were giving to diabetic rats was having another effect on them – the male rats, that is. As a result, a new use was found for the company’s proprietary A3 Adenosine Receptor (A3AR) modulator.

Adenosine is a neuromodulator that has a number of important roles in the body, including suppressing synaptic transmission, where signaling molecules (neurotransmitters) are released by a neuron, binding to and activating the receptors of another neuron – mostly to slow down activity. Found throughout the mammalian world, adenosine is, for example, synthesized into a drug that is used to treat heart malfunctions such as supraventricular tachycardia, in which the heart beats too quickly.

The research being done by Can-Fite and other groups focuses on the effects on the body of adenosine in general, and A3 adenosine receptors (A3AR) – one of four adenosine receptors in the body – specifically. Research has shown that there is a connection between the over-expression of A3AR in cells affected by diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, astrocytoma, melanoma, and several types of tumors.

Can-Fite has been working with A3AR for years, using it to treat a variety of medical problems, from liver cancer to inflammation to dry eye, and last September, the FDA granted Can-Fite’s pipeline drug CF102 a Fast Track designation as a second line treatment for hepatocellular the carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer.

Another Can-Fite drug, CF101, had already been designated by the FDA as an orphan drug (a drug developed for diseases or conditions that have no other approved treatments). The company has successfully shown CF-101’s efficacy in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriasis, and inflammation due to adjuvant and collagen induced arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions.

CF602, Can-Fite’s next generation compound, was also being developed as an anti-inflammatory treatment, and tests have shown that it is effective in treating a variety of autoimmune inflammatory and inflammatory animal models, the company said. But pre-clinical studies in rats with diabetes showed that CF602 had a mechanism of action similar to sildenafil (the generic name for erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra), with CF602 demonstrating effects on erection superior to that demonstrated by sildenafil in animal studies, Can-Fite said. According to statistics, 35-75% of men with diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction, and this is the first group the new Can-Fite drug will be aimed at.

Much more work is needed before an Israeli product takes its place on pharmacy shelves beside Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra. But when that does happen, Can-Fite will be tapping into a market that will be worth $2.6 billion by 2018. With just three ED drugs on the market right now, according to health industry analytics firm GlobalData, there is plenty of room for a fourth.

According to Can-Fite CEO Dr. Pnina Fishman, “there is a clear and unmet need for a new sexual dysfunction drug that safely and more effectively treats erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes.”

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