Follow Us
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

New Cancer Breakthrough Thanks To Israeli Father of Immunology

March 21, 2016

A potential cure for a certain type of cancer was recently presented by American researchers, though the brain behind it belongs to a Hebrew University graduate.

A new method of attacking cancer cells and reprogramming the immune system has made a lot of waves recently in the US. Professor Irit Avivi from Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv explains, “This research basically uses the immune system of the patient in order to attack the cancer cells. The cells are transformed genetically.”

Yes, of course there is an Israeli connection here. Professor Zelig Ashchar who works with Dr. Avivi was the first to express the idea of reprogramming the T Cells while working on his doctorate at the Weitzman Institute. He is one of the founding fathers of the field of immunotherapy for which he won the prestigious Israel Prize. “I invented and developed the therapy,” he says in a phone interview. “I was very excited as more and more people are being cured and will be cured. It is a great honor for myself and my staff.”

Of course, we must use a bit of caution with this. Although some patients with terminal leukemia were cured, not every one is a candidate for this therapy. The side effects may also be deadly. Professor Avivi confirms, “There were a few that did not pass this stage — 2 out of 30.”

The experiments on humans are still very limited. An experimental trial will be offered soon in Israel. A cure for or vaccine against Leukemia is still years in the making. Professor Aviv adds, “We are definitely in the right direction, but we must still be patient.” Professor Ashchar and his fellow researchers will surely be candidates for a Nobel Prize in the coming years.