Steba Prostate Cancer Reaches Phase 3

Very few Israeli technologies reach the Phase 3 clinical stage, yet a therapy for prostate cancer, invented and developed in Rehovot, has quietly worked its way to this elite club.

The technology, known as Tookad-WS, was invented at the Weizmann Institute by Prof. Avigdor Scherz and Prof. Yoram Salomon. The company commercializing the product is Steba Biotech, based in Luxembourg, via Steba Laboratories, its fully-owned subsidiary, in Rehovot.

Tookad-WS treatment is highly-effective, minimally invasive and offers the prospect of reduced side effects in comparison with currently available therapies, explains Doron Eren, Executive VP of Steba Laboratories.

The photo dynamic therapy combines the use of a material, chemically derived from bacterial chlorophyll, that is activated in the target tissue by infra-red light.

Treatment entails inserting optical fibers into the patient’s prostate gland and simultaneously infusing the drug (derived from bacteriochlorophyll) through an injection. During the course of about 15 minutes the infra-red light beams activate the drug causing it to block blood vessels in the tumor.

Eren points out that the tumor is destroyed without the drug penetrating any other tissues.

The entire treatment is relatively simple with the patient leaving the hospital the same day.

The therapy can be used to treat any form of solid tumor. Steba chose prostate cancer as its first indication, in part, because of the availability of similar delivery equipment used in radioactive brachytherapy.

Steba Laboratories was founded in 2003 and today employs 25 workers, including more than 5 with Ph.D’s.

The Phase III trial is being conducted in France, Germany, Sweden and other European countries. A few hundred patients are expected to participate in the trial. The study results are expected in 2014.

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