CEO: Yotam Nisemblat
Protekt Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company aiming to develop a drug for enhancing the long-term memory of those suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The company is financed by a syndicate of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company through its venture group Takeda Ventures Inc., OrbiMed Israel Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and the Office of the Israeli Innovation Authority (“IIA”) of the Ministry of Economy, and has operated since December 2015 in the FutuRx biotech incubator in Ness Ziona, Israel. There are no marketed drugs for enhancing memory in MCI. Inhibition of the enzyme PKR offers a unique approach for improving memory consolidation, as supported by a strong and growing body of preclinical and post-mortem human evidence. A PKR inhibitor (PKRi) small molecule provides an attractive and novel mechanism for modulating protein synthesis that can promote learning-related neuronal modifications, thus enhancing long-term memory. Protekt-Tx aims to identify and develop a potent and selective oral PKRi for the treatment of cognitive disorders such as MCI, for which there are significant unmet medical need.
Protekt Therapeutics was established in FutuRx Incubator in December 2015
Protekt-Tx has an innovative approach for targeted enhancement of the protein translation process needed for memory consolidation. Protekt-Tx is pioneering the enhancement of memory by targeting PKR, an enzyme that inhibits the translation process. This mechanism may be used for potential therapy in MCI as well as traumatic brain injury and other cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Long-term, but not short-term, memory depends on protein synthesis. In aging, which is also considered a chronic metabolic stress, neurons respond by inhibiting the rate of protein translation, a protective cellular mechanism that can negatively affect neuronal and cognitive function. The overall rate of protein synthesis is controlled by eIF2α, a key protein in the translation machinery. In performing this role, unphosphorylated eIF2α promotes general protein translation. Activation of PKR, a Ser/Thr kinase, upon cellular stress, leads to eIF2α phosphorylation and consequent inhibition of protein synthesis. Thus, an effective PKRi will stimulates higher levels of protein translation, which should enhance memory consolidation and may rescue MCI/ aging effects.
MCI is an intermediate state between the regular cognitive decline that occurs with normal aging and the onset of dementia as in AD. Most diagnosed MCI patients are over age 60 and experience moderate but significant and measurable decline in cognitive functions including language, judgement, memory and mental skills, but not dementia. These patients are treated with drugs for dementia pathologies with only slight if any improvement. MCI prevalence worldwide is estimated at 80 million, and the MCI market for treatment may be ~$4B in 2023 (estimated from GlobalData AD and MCI Report, 2015).
The Company is comprised of individuals with vast experience in the biotech industry, as well as academic leaders in the fields of neuroscience and computational chemistry.
Yotam Nisemblat: CEO
MSc from Tel-Aviv University in Neurobiology with specialization in Alzheimer’s disease and MBA from The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Ten years of industry experiences in drug development and research, mainly in the field of CNS-related disorder. Former Drug Development Director at BioLineRx.
Dorit Cohen-Carmon: Senior Scientist
PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Post-Doctoral Fellow at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Experienced in applicative drug-screen for neurodegenerative diseases and CNS models. Awarded Eshkol CSO and TEVA NNE postdoctoral fellowships for neurodegeneration drug-screen study using stem cell neuronal differentiation.
Michal Slutzki: Computational Chemist
PhD in Biological Chemistry from Weizmann Institute (Israel). Postdoctoral training at Hebrew University in computer-aided drug discovery (CADD) lab. Strong background in CADD tools, structural bioinformatics, protein interactions, analytical assays and data analysis.
Zohar Pode: Scientist
PhD in Organic Chemistry from Weizmann Institute (Israel), where she developed selective unimolecular combinatorial sensor as a novel tool for diagnostics and therapeutics. Experienced in developing and executing chemical synthesis, protein-ligand binding and enzyme inhibition assays and has strong background in molecular biology.
Prof. Kobi Rosenblum: Inventor
Professor of molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory, University of Haifa, Israel; PhD in neurobiology with more than two decades of experience in applied neuroscience research and development.