Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Hebrew University Researchers Discover New Process to Treat Cancerous Tumors

The finding has the potential to significantly influence the manner in which anti-cancer drugs are administered, as well as the development of a way to reverse the spread of cancerous growth

By: Sophie Imas

Published: May 21st, 2014 in Health » Israel

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered a process whereby tumor cells become resistant to certain drugs. This finding has the potential to significantly influence the manner in which anti-cancer drugs are administered, as well as the development of a way to reverse the spread of cancerous growth.

Although there have been numerous anti-cancer drugs developed, doctors are not able to determine in advance whether a patient may benefit from a specific drug. Therefore, the ability to determine how a patient’s tumor would respond to a given treatment through laboratory testing is crucial in entering the rapidly developing field of “personalized medicine.”

The researchers previously discovered that breast, lung and colon cancer cells change the structure of an enzyme called Mnk2, which is involved in the transmission of information from the environment or body into the cell. Following this discovery, the team managed to demonstrate that the enzyme MnK2 is found in two forms: it has a “normal” form, one which inhibits cancer, and a second form which promotes cancer development.

“Stressing-out” the enzyme

The research group, led by Dr. Rotem Karni, further showed that cancer cells also change the structure of the MnK2, destroying the normal form and triggering the form that promotes cancer. Thus, the cancer cells can survive and even grow faster. Moreover, the scientists discovered that the anti-cancer form of the enzyme activates a “suicide program” in normal cells under conditions of stress.

In an attempt to counter this process, Karni and his colleagues developed molecules that are capable of transforming the cancerous form of the Mnk2 enzyme back into its normal form. This conversion allows the cancerous form of the enzyme to become sensitive to stress and to the absorption of anti-cancer drugs. The molecules developed also make it possible to overcome the drug-resistance of cancer cells, instead making them sensitive and responsive to various anti-cancer treatments.

A new biomarker

“The mechanism we discovered explains how cancer cells eliminate the anti-cancer form of Mnk2 without changing their DNA, and how they become resistant to anti-cancer treatments — a problem which exists for almost every cancer treatment today,” explained Karni. “The new molecules we developed in order to change the structure of the Mnk2 enzyme back to its normal form will enable re-sensitizing cancer cells into anti-cancer therapies.”

These research results have the potential to prompt the development of a new biomarker for testing the response of a patient to specific drugs. Karni asserts that the possibility of determining whether or not a patient will benefit from a specific drug prior to the treatment itself is of primary medical interest.

The research was carried out by graduate student Avi Maimon under the supervision of Karni of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s faculty of Medicine. The research group is currently developing a diagnostic test for the marker discovered. These findings were also recently submitted as patents application by Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University.

Reprinted with permission from NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News

Israeli Researchers Seek New Treatment of Huntington's Disease Israeli Researchers Seek New Treatment of Huntington’s Disease Trending Revolutionary Hologram- guided Heart Surgery is a Heartbeat Away Trending Israeli Farmer Names Melon After Justin Timberlake Trending
 

THEATRE REVIEW: Flashdance the Musical

May 30, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
THEATRE REVIEW: Flashdance the Musical

Despite the differences from its cinematic predecessor, Flashdance the Musical is fun, flashy, and brash.

Read More

Gwyneth Paltrow Compares Online Gossip to War

May 30, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Gwyneth Paltrow Compares Online Gossip to War

The ‘Iron Man 3’ actress needs to stop sharing her opinions publicly. Period.

Read More

Lea Michele Tells Chelsea Handler She Began Drinking as a Toddler

May 30, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Lea Michele Tells Chelsea Handler She Began Drinking as a Toddler

The ‘Brunette Ambition’ author joined Handler on ‘Chelsea Lately’ Thursday evening.

Read More

James Franco Pens Love Letter to Jonah Hill

May 30, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
James Franco Pens Love Letter to Jonah Hill

The ‘This is The End’ co-stars could have a bromance in the works

Read More

Israel’s Simple Parenting Introduces One Step Car-Seat-to-Stroller Product, Parents Rejoice

May 30, 2014 | By Emma Mazerall
Israel’s Simple Parenting Introduces One Step Car-Seat-to-Stroller Product, Parents Rejoice

‘The Doona’ can transform from car seat to stroller with ease by unfastening one clip

Read More

Pope’s Handwritten Note From the Western Wall Published

May 30, 2014 | By Emma Mazerall
Pope’s Handwritten Note From the Western Wall Published

Pope Francis visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, where he left a Spanish version of the Lord’s Prayer

Read More

New Ads for Huggies Diapers Raise a Stink in Israel

May 30, 2014 | By Emma Mazerall
New Ads for Huggies Diapers Raise a Stink in Israel

An ad campaign featuring denim-diaper-clad babies has Israeli parents steaming

Read More

Israeli Researchers Seek New Treatment of Huntington’s Disease

May 30, 2014 | By Rachel Dinh
Israeli Researchers Seek New Treatment of Huntington's Disease

Tel Aviv University professors find that suspected cause of Huntington’s is actually a defense mechanism

Read More

More Headlines