Creating a new approach to treating disease, Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. (CANF) has adroitly harnessed a novel biochemical pathway in the fight against psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder affecting 125 million globally, in a market expected to reach $4 billion next year. Current medicine fell short - disease-modulating antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) with sporadic efficacy and monoclonal antibodies with side effects like tuberculosis comprise most of the market for treating this disorder - until biotech behemoth Celgene Corp. (CELG), in a much-commented departure from its core cancer franchise, won approval in March with orally-administered Otezla (apremilast), with approval for psoriasis itself expected after the summer. Still, Otezla does not represent an ideal cure.
Celgene chose a new mechanism of action to make the drug effective - selective inhibition of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) - usually reserved for asthma-like conditions. Clinical results are confusing: in a pivotal Phase III, apremilast reduced