Tel Aviv University's New Cancer Treatment Innovations

Published: August 13th 2010
in News » Israel

RNA molecules

Tel Aviv University researchers have conducted a series of studies dealing with the treatment of cancer and have come up with multiple results. The first study is based on the idea that doctors can stop a cancerous tumor from growing by damaging the process of angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels that provide the tumor with nutrients and oxygen.


According to university researchers, a new family of medicines could provide preventive treatment for the disease, or turn existing cancer into a chronic disease that one can live with for years. They tested the productiveness of innovative polymeric carriers designed to deliver medicines directly to the cancer cells.


These carriers, developed by Dr. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Dr. Paula Ofek and colleagues at Berlin University, were connected to a siRNA (small interference RNA molecule) gene-suppressant and injected into laboratory mice with cancerous tumors. Results showed that the carriers took the siRNA directly to the cancer cells. It passed through the cell walls and silenced the target genes, all without causing the poisonous symptoms associated with the usual cancer treatment.


Using this method, the amount of medicine required, as well as side effects, are significantly reduced, and the medicines do not harm healthy tissue. Researchers hope to now do the same thing with siRNA in order to silence the key gene in angiogenesis.


The study was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Satchi-Fainaro of the Physiology and Pharmacology Department in the Sackler School of Medicine. Dr. Satchi-Fainaro feels that this new treatment could be revolutionary to cancer therapy.


She says that those who are healthy but are at a high-risk of developing cancer (such as carriers of certain genetic mutations, or former cancer patients) will now be able to receive preventive treatment. For those who already have cancer, these medicines could turn the tumor into a chronic disease that can be managed for years, while maintaining a high quality of life. More details of the study will be published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).


Tel Aviv University’s other research involves nano-methods for treating cancer using heat and magnets. Professor Israel Gannot of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is developing a brand new way to destroy tumors which will produce fewer side effects than radiation therapy, and also minimize damage to surrounding tissue. His mixture of nano-particles and antibodies uses specific biomarkers attached to individual tumors and locates and binds to the tumor.


“Once the nano-particles bind to the tumor, we excite them with an external magnetic field, and they begin to heat very specifically and locally,” said Professor Gannot, whose method is designed to kill the tumor cells but leave surrounding healthy tissue intact. The magnetic field is manipulated to create a rise in temperature, and the tumors are killed by the heat elevation.


This new method soon to be published in the journal, Nanomedicine, has been proven effective against epithelial cancers which are able to develop anywhere in the body, such as the breast or the lung.

Related articles: (cancer, Tel Aviv University, RNA, Nanomedicine)
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