Copaxone Inventor Ruth Arnon Taking BiondVax Public

Sharon Shpurer
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Sharon Shpurer

Ruth Arnon, an immunology professor and one of the scientists behind the development of Copaxone to treat relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis, is taking a company public. 

BiondVax Pharmaceuticals, which is working on developing a universal needle-free influenza vaccine administered through the nose, hopes to raise $10 million at a premoney company value of $30 million.

Flu is one of the most common diseases in the world, and it's also a hugely expensive one in terms of lost days of work and therapy. Each year it attacks anywhere from 5% to 20% of the world population, and some strains are deadly.

BiondVax's offering is to be led by Clal Finance Underwriting.

The vaccine is the brainchild of Prof. Arnon, who is one of the central persons behind Copaxone, the MS drug made by Teva Pharmaceuticals (TASE, Nasdaq: TEVA)  . Arnon developed Copaxone together with two partners, Prof. Michael Sela and Dr. Dvora Teitelbaum.

Arnon is an international authority on immunology and immunization. In 1998 she was awarded the Israel Prize.

Copaxone has been a blockbuster drug for Teva, thanks to a combination of efficacy and relatively less side effects than interferon-based therapies for MS. Sales of Copaxone run at more than a billion dollars a year.

Copaxone is also one of the few original drugs to be developed in Israel, and it made Arnon and her colleagues quite rich.

In an interview with TheMarker a year ago, BiondVax's managers said that the company's goal is to develop an immunization that would remain effective for five years, and that would protect humans against all sorts of influenza.

BiondVax is led by Dr Ron Babecoff  as president, Prof. Avner Rotman as chairman, Isaac Devash as co-founder and Rami Epstein as co-founder.