BioLineRx announced that it has licensed an experimental immunotherapy drug from Yissum Research Development Company Ltd which is the business side of Hebrew University of Jerusalem(Israel).

The drug is currently known as “BL-7040” & BioLineRx has plans to further develop & commercialize the drug worldwide. BL-7040 is an experimental drug that is still in testing, but it has already passed Phase Ib & Phase IIa clinical trials. Officially it won’t be known how well BL-7040 works until it’s subjected to Phase IIb clinical trials. However, Prof. Hermona Soreq sounds optimistic on the drug’s efficacy:

The efficacy of BL-7040 in these [earlier] studies was shown to be highly significant and comparable to that of dexamethasone, a steroid used routinely for IBD that has multiple side effects.

While BL-7040 was originally developed for “Myasthenia gravis” which is a neuromuscular disease, it was found that the drug’s immunomodulatory & anti-inflammatory effects could be of benefit for those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease as well. Given that Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a larger market, the drug has pivoted in that direction.

BL-7040 works by encouraging activation of the Toll-like receptor #9 protein (TLR9). TLR9 helps activate the immune system’s response to pathogens, but at the same time it’s job is also to help regulate that response. Meanwhile BL-7040 is also increasing cholinergic & anti-inflammatory pathways throughout the body.

The TLR9 protein is under research as an immunomodulator in a variety of other immune system related diseases, such as allergies & asthma. These new immunotherapies involving stem cells or specific protein activation may give those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease safer & more effective treatment options.