PamBio, a biotech startup in Nazareth, Israel, announced on Monday that they have raised $7 million from an anonymous investor, following up on a combined $3 million the company had received thus far from the Israeli government and the hybrid VC-incubator, NGT3. The company is working on a treatment for hemorrhagic strokes, a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel in your brain hemorrhages, or ruptures. Their treatment prevents bleeding and protects against brain damage, the ultimate side effect plaguing most stroke victims.
They’re working on stopping acute bleeding during stroke, a symptom that currently has no drug treatments, according to the company. CEO Dr. Amos Ofer said in a press release, “The solution we have developed, to prevent and stop bleeding, is based on an innovative understanding of the fibrinolysis pathway that is responsible for the breakdown of blood clots. In the future, this medication will allow treatment of additional bleeding disorders, which today do not have a safe and effective treatment, such as head injuries, bleeding in the digestive system, post-partum bleeding and other bleeding disorders.”
PamBio was founded by Dr. Nuha Higazi, PhD. and her husband Prof. Abd Al-Roof Higazi, MD., who heads the Division of Laboratories and the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Hadassah’s tech transfer arm Hadassit, along with NGT3, also helped establish the startup.
The money will be poured into research ahead of an anticipated 2019 launch of Phase I human trials. That means more hires over the next year.
“Such a considerable investment at such an early stage of a pharma company, three years before the first human trial, is a huge accomplishment,” said NGT3 CEO Zohar Gendler in a press release. “The new investment dramatically improves PamBio’s ability to answer an acute need in the market for treatment of brain bleeding.”
NGT3, a venture capital fund established through the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel, is incubating the startup . Operating under an eight-year mandate, NGT3 aims to establish 30 successful companies by the end of 2020 while simultaneously boosting the biotech sector in Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel.
How to spot a stroke in progress
PamBio’s press release makes much ado about the fact there is no drug treatment for stroke, and that would be for very good reason. Strokes’ long-term effects are on account of oxygen not reaching the brain, thus killing large swaths of brain cells in the process. While strokes can only affect certain parts of the brain, this often results in a permanent droop on one or both sides of a victim’s face if they survive the ordeal.
The global stroke diagnostics and therapeutics market will be worth $28.3 billion by 2019 according to BCC Research. The company claims the economic burden of stroke in the U.S. and Europe is $43.6 billion annually.
Doctors say you must immediately contact emergency services at the first sign of a stroke. They teach the acronym F.A.S.T. to instruct non-professionals what to look for to detect a stroke:
F. Facial drooping.
A. Arm, specifically not being able to fully lift it.
S. Speech, or not being able to talk properly, at which point you have very little . . .
T. Time. Move quickly to contact emergency services.
The company is led by CEO Amos Ofer, Co-founder and CTO Nuha Higazi, Co-founder and CSO Abd Al-Roof Higazi and Director of R&D, Isabelle Dai, M.Sc.