News Column

Cancer screening co Nucleix raises $5m

June 16, 2014

By Gali Weinreb, Globes, Tel Aviv, Israel

June 16--Nucleix, which is developing a test for early detection of bladder cancer, has raised more than $5 million in an investment round led by venture capital firm OrbiMed Advisors LLC. One of the company's private investors, Zohar Zisapel, participated in the current round as well. The company had raised $3 million before this round, primarily from private investors.

Nucleix was established by Elon Ganor, who previously founded and managed MagicJack VocalTec Ltd. (Nasdaq: CALL). Ganor, who rose to fame thanks to his IT ventures and then left the field in 2006 and went on to become a successful photographer, is actually a doctor by training. In the (relatively) distant past, in the 1980s, he built two companies that dealt in diagnosis, so he is coming full circle.

The entrepreneurs behind the company, Weizmann Institute graduates Dr. Dan Frumkin, who is currently VP Research at Nucelix, and Dr. Adam Wasserstrom, who is VP Development, knew Ganor socially, and approached him when they decided to found Nucleix, in hopes of bringing him in as an investor or as CEO. "I didn't intend to return to business, because I am very satisfied as a photographer, but the potential of this product attracted me," Ganor told "Globes" today.

Ganor explains that Nucleix uses epigenetics to identify cancer cells before there are medical symptoms indicating a growth. Epigenetics refers to tiny changes in a cell's DNA, not a mutation in the gene itself, but rather changes in various materials attached to the gene, which allow or disallow its expression. According to Ganor, a combination of fifteen such indicators has been discovered, which can distinguish a cancerous cell from a healthy one.

In the case of a urinary tract infection, bladder cells are found in the urine, and so the cells' epigenetics may be tested in a urine sample, in contrast to the invasive procedures used today. In the future, the product could be suitable for testing other types of cancer for which screenings today are not sufficiently effective, including colon, lung, and prostate cancers.

OrbiMed Managing Director and Nucleix board member Erez Chimovits said: "The scientific principles on the basis of which Nucleix's technology was developed, and the preliminary result of the bladder cancer screening, are promising. We are happy to join as investors, and look forward to joint work to advance this important field."


(c)2014 the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel)

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Source: Globes (Tel Aviv)

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