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Breakthrough Cancer Cure Has Deep Israeli Roots

Professor Zelig Eshhar (Courtesy) Professor Zelig Eshhar (Courtesy)

As many wait for a universal cure for cancer, an Israeli researcher makes great progress for finding a successful treatment - giving hope to many.

One of the first in the world to work on the innovative adaptive immunotherapy technique to treat cancer, which was hailed Tuesday worldwide as a potentially “extraordinary” development, was Weizmann University Professor Zelig Eshhar. Speaking Wednesday on Israel Radio, Eshhar said he was very heartened to hear about the results of the study at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I’m not surprised to hear about the results,” he said. “In our lab, we cured many rats and mice of cancer. I have been saying for years that we could do this in people, as well...”

The therapy involves extracting T-cells – the white blood cells that fight foreign or abnormal cells, including cancerous ones. Under normal circumstances, T-cells try to fight cancerous cells – but because the body has been weakened by the cancer, the response is usually not strong enough to prevent the spread of cancer. In addition, cancer cells are genetically programmed to evade T-cells, said immunotherapy researcher and oncologist Dr. Stanley Riddell, one of the leaders of the study.

Riddell, along with colleagues Dr. David Maloney and Dr. Cameron Turtle, extracted T-cells from the patients and genetically modified them to develop longer-lasting and more aggressive responses to the disease. As a result, the patients experienced significant improvement – and even elimination of the disease altogether.

Tags: Israeli Innovation

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