KAHR Medical gets FDA nod to start human trials for cancer drug

Drug developed by Jerusalem-based startup targets cancer cells, weakens their defenses, and activates a local response, company says; Swiss pharma firm Roche to join trials

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

Illustrative. A cancer patient receives chemotherapy treatment. (via Shutterstock)
Illustrative. A cancer patient receives chemotherapy treatment. (via Shutterstock)

KAHR Medical, an Israeli biopharmaceutical company has received US Food and Drug Administration clearance to start clinical trials on its immunotherapy drug to battle cancer.

The drug, called DSP-107, is based on a compound that simultaneously targets cancer cells, weakens their defenses and activates an effective, local response. This is possible because the drug performs a dual action, using Dual Signaling Proteins (DSP) — namely, one human protein marks the cancer cells, while a second human protein activates immune cells and inhibit the powers of the cancer cells.

With the FDA nod, the company now plans to initiate a Phase I/II clinical trial to evaluate the safety of the drug, assess how the body processes the drug (pharmacokinetics), and the interactions between the drug, the body, and the illness (pharmacodynamics).

The trial will test DSP-107 as a stand-alone treatment in patients with advanced solid tumors, and also in combination with another immunotherapy medication, developed by Swiss multinational healthcare firm Roche, called Tecentriq, or atezolizumab,  Kahr said in a statement last week. The firm entered a collaboration with Roche last year to try the drugs together.

The study will be conducted at multiple centers in the United States, the statement said.

“Receiving clearance from the FDA to advance our lead immuno-oncology program to the clinic marks a significant milestone for KAHR as we transform into a clinical-stage company,” said Yaron Pereg, the CEO of KAHR Medical in the statement.

The startup has raised $18 million to date from investors including Swedish VC firm Flerie Invest AB, private equity firm Oriella Limited, Hadasit Bio-Holdings, US private equity investor Pavilion Capital, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, and Asia’s Korean Investment Partners and DSC Investments.

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