For 60 years, Israel Cancer Association (ICA) has been making a dramatic difference in the lives of individuals diagnosed with cancer. By providing major funding to brilliant cancer researchers/scientists in the State of Israel, ICA has benefited cancer victims worldwide as it closes in on cures.
ICA-funded scientists send letters to their donors at the conclusion of their research. Read some of them here:
Following is just a sample of brilliant breakthroughs in cancer research funded by ICA USA Cancer Research Fellowships:
Dr. Ido Wolf, an ICA USA funded scientist, and his team have discovered a protein that seems to prevent the growth of pancreatic cancer. The protein, klotho, could possibly be effective against other aggressive cancers, as well. Researchers at the Cancer Research Center at Sheba Medical Center studied the behavior of klotho, a natural hormone emitted by the brain and kidneys that is known to retard the aging process. When the protein was injected, cancerous growths stopped spreading and began to shrink. The researchers first noticed that healthy pancreatic cells contained klotho, whereas cancerous cells did not. Researchers hope that testing pancreatic cells for klotho may provide an earlier indication of the presence of cancer.
Prof. Batsheva Kerem of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and her Ph.D. student Assaf C. Bester demonstrated that abnormal activation of cellular proliferation driving many different cancer types leads to insufficient levels of the DNA building blocks (nucleotides) required to support normal DNA replication. Using laboratory cultures in which cancerous cells were introduced, the researchers were able to show that through external supply of those DNA building blocks it is possible to reactivate normal DNA synthesis, thus negating the damage caused by the cancerous cells and the cancerous potential. This is the first time that this has been demonstrated anywhere.
Professor Aaron Ciechanover, Technion, pioneered the field of protein degradation. When each protein is present in the cell at the right time and the right level, the cells function in a normal way. Professor Ciechanover was among the first to show that cells can regulate their correct protein levels by using a degradation mechanism. When the control of the protein degradation is not functioning properly, cells are transformed into cancer. Professor Aaron Ciechanover and Professor Avram Hershko were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (2004) for findings leading to therapies for cervical cancer and cystic fibrosis.
Professor Yosef Yarden discovered the function of a molecular amplifier that strengthens the chemical signals that cause cells to become cancerous. This amplifier is an enzyme found in large quantities on cancerous cell membranes, especially in breast, ovary and lung tumors. This finding may serve as a foundation for a new cancer treatment based on “silencing” the molecular amplifier.
A leading immunologist, Professor Yair Reisner made an important contribution in the field of bone marrow transplantation. Due to the implementation of his research, there has been an improved capacity to overcome severe side effects of a transplant from a matched donor. In recent years, he developed experimental animal models aimed at improving the efficiency of the restoration of stem cells in cancer patients.
Professor Yossi Shilo discovered a key gene that plays a central role in the DNA repair machinery. The integrity of our genetic material is central for cells to stay healthy and normal. Our cells are continuously exposed to stress, which changes our genetic material.
Professor Hadassah Degani developed a non-invasive method to distinguish between cancerous tumors (of the breast) and benign lumps. The method is based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The method should decrease the need for invasive biopsy examinations while helping doctors better understand how well a drug treatment is working.
In his work, Professor Israel Vlodavsky has discovered new reagents which may function as active drugs in preventing the spread of tumors. One of the major problems with cancer is that cells of the primary tumor spread and generate metastasis in the body.