Dr. Harel has over 25 years' experience in international business development, marketing, clinical development, fund raising and building strategic partnerships. In January 2011, he came to Brainstorm and leveraged all his experience to transform the company from a pre-clinical biotech to a world leader in clinical stage neurodegenerative treatment for ALS. The company is preparing for launch of an ALS Phase II, to be conducted at the renowned Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and UMass.
During his interview, Dr. Harel shared the following information:
Why are you interested in neurodegenerative disorders?
Dr. Harel: "I became fascinated in this area of research while I was a Ph.D student and then during my Post-Doctoral training, but mainly working at Proneuron Biotechnologies. We had created the "world interest center" for paralysis. I had the pleasure to communicate with Christopher Reeve on one hand and clinical leaders worldwide on the other hand. "We pioneered these early stage cellular treatments and I was pleased to have played a significant role in regulatory and managing endeavors across multiple channels both internal and external."
What brought you to Brainstorm?
Dr. Harel: "I have spent my whole career helping others, working with teams that are inspired to find solutions for difficult biological and clinical problems with the end goal to ease the burden of suffering. In my opinion, ALS is the most devastating of all on the neurodegenerative diseases spectrum. The fact that the initial data from our ALS Phase I/II trial shows some measurable improvements in key functional scores is very encouraging in the fight against ALS."
What is the credit market like?
Dr. Harel: "It has been difficult to find a balance between preserving the value of the shares held by our existing investors, yet raising the necessary capital to move our clinical trials forward as expeditiously as possible. In 2012 alone, we closed on a $5.7 million Public Offering in July with favorable terms, and have also secured non-dilutive grants from the Israeli Chief Scientist's Office. Since joining Brainstorm in January 2011, we have raised over $9 million. "
What is next for Brainstorm?
Dr. Harel: "We concluded the first half of our ALS Phase I/II trial in Israel recently and are pleased with the initial safety and efficacy we've seen. We are also working on obtaining FDA approval for a Phase II ALS trial at MGH and UMass Hospital in Boston, and hope to launch it in the first half of 2013.
What would you say to those living with ALS?
Dr. Harel: "I wake up every day with the mission to help ALS patients overcome their disease. I will not rest until I find a cell-based solution that will successfully halt the disease progression. The knowledge that there is no real, effective treatment today for ALS, combined with the fact that so few other companies are working on a viable solution, makes our mission that much more urgent, as there are so many patients depending on us.
Do you see a time when ALS will be no more?
Dr. Harel: "Simply put, yes! We are working with the best researchers and clinicians in Israel and soon to be working with the best in the USA. I am optimistic that stem-cells will be the solution."
Sai Rose concluded, "In my years of interviewing CEOs of companies, I have never met a more passionate CEO than Dr. Harel. He has the entire skill set package that is needed to succeed and grow a clinical stage company."
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