A groundbreaking treatment for type 1 diabetes has the won the Hebrew University’s prestigious Kaye Innovation Award.
Named after the UK’s Isaac Kaye, a prominent pharmaceutical industrialist, the Kaye Awards annually celebrate innovative developments that can benefit the university and society.
Hebrew University immunologist Professor Ofer Mandelboim was given the award following his research into a protein receptor called NKp46. NK is short for Natural Killer cells, with Mandelboim demonstrating that when NKp46 present in NK cells was inhibited, this prevented type 1 diabetes developing in mice.
BioLineRx, a biopharmaceutical company, have developed BL-9020 based on Mandelhoim’s NKp46 research. BL-9020, an antibody treatment, targets NKp46, which has been found to recognise pancreatic beta cells and destroy them.
BL-9020 is intended to treat type 1 diabetes in patients at an early stage, with pre-clinical studies on mice displaying BL-9020 can inhibit beta cell death and delay insulin treatment in patients.
The findings from BL-9020 suggest the importance of the NKp46 receptor is significant in establishing an effective antibody treatment for type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Kinneret Savitsky, CEO of BioLineRx, said: “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.”

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