Tamir Biotechnology Inc.

Tamir Biotechnology, Inc, known until April 2010 as the Alfacell Corporation, is a pharmaceutical company specializing in the research and development of cancer therapeutics derived from amphibian ribonucleases. Their leading product, Onconase (ranpirnas), is a ribonucleic enzyme isolated from the oocytes of the northern leopard frog. Tamir was founded in 1981 by Kuslima Shogen as a way to further research she had started as a graduate student of biology at New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University. Since that time Shogen served as the company’s CEO up until 2008. Presently Tamir’s CEO is Charles Muniz. Headquartered in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, Tamir Biotechnology’s net revenues are approximately $1.2 million annually.


Onconase is one of the newer and more promising cancer treatments Tamir is currently working on. The enzyme works by attaching itself to receptor sites on the surfaces of tumor cells and catalyzing the degradation of that cell’s RNA into smaller components. Because Onconase only attaches to markers on cancer cells, it should not harm healthy cells. Onconase is currently in Stage III clinical trials as a treatment for malignant mesothelioma, and in Phase I/Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer and other solid tumors, in conjunction with pemetrexed and carboplatin. Additionally, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania has reported impressive results using Onconase as a radiation sensitizer in lung cancer treatment. Tamir’s scientists have also used Onconase as an adjunct to other therapies in the treatment of leukemia and breast cancer, as well as in the treatment of variety of infectious diseases including HIV.

Since clinical trials started, over 850 mesothelioma patients have been treated with Onconase. These were patients who’d experienced limited remedial effects from other chemotherapeutic agents, and who were enrolled in either Phase I or Phase II Onconase clinical trials. Treatment with Onconase in conjunction with doxorubicin resulted in a medium survival time of 10.5 months, whereas treatment with doxorubicin alone resulted in a medium survival time of 8.7 months.

The Future of Treatment

Companies such as Tamir Biotechnology Inc., along with their products, could help to provide treatments for cancers such as mesothelioma. Further evidence and clinical trials are necessary in order to determine the drug’s full potential. However, the results provided thus far continue to shine a positive light on possible treatment options. The best way to determine an individual patient’s appropriate course of treatment includes consulting a licensed physician or specialist.