BioLineRx has announced that research underlying BL-9020, for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, won the Hebrew University's prestigious Kaye Innovation Award.
The award was granted to Hebrew University immunologist Professor Ofer Mandelboim, who studied the function of a protein receptor called NKp46 in the development of Type 1 diabetes. Prof. Mandelboim showed that NKp46 present on Natural Killer cells has a critical role in the development of the disease in mice, and that inhibition of the receptor almost entirely prevented the development of diabetes. This research is the basis for BioLineRx’s BL-9020, a novel monoclonal antibody which targets the Natural Killer (NK) receptor NKp46 for the prevention and treatment of Type 1 diabetes.
In January 2014, BioLineRx entered into a collaboration agreement with JHL Biotech for the further development and commercialization of BL-9020 in China and additional Southeast Asia countries. Under the terms of the agreement, BioLineRx retains the development and commercialization rights in the rest of the world.
Dr. Kinneret Savitsky, CEO of BioLineRx, stated, "Type 1 diabetes is a highly prevalent autoimmune disease affecting millions around the world. Currently there is no cure for the disease, and patients with diabetes need to administer insulin on a daily basis throughout their lifetime. Oftentimes, when the disease is diagnosed, patients experience a 'honeymoon period' which may last up to a year, during which there are still some insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Inhibiting the innate immune system, which has shown involvement in the destruction of the pancreas, is a novel approach for such treatment. Based on promising pre-clinical results, we have high hopes that BL-9020 may slow down or halt progression of the disease at this stage, which could be a significant step towards curing diabetes.”
BL-9020 is a novel monoclonal antibody treatment designed to prevent immune-mediated destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. It was developed to treat Type 1 diabetes in early stage patients, during what is known as the "honeymoon period," where the pancreatic beta cells have not been completely destroyed and continue to secrete insulin.
BL-9020 targets NKp46, a unique target that is involved in the innate response against the pancreas. Pre-clinical studies in mouse models of Type 1 diabetes suggest that BL-9020 can inhibit beta cell death, thus preventing full maturation of the disease. This effect could significantly delay, and potentially prevent, the need for chronic insulin use by Type 1 diabetes patients, as well as provide a potential benefit in minimizing diabetes-related complications.