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TARGET KILLING OF CANCER CELLS

Two Israeli scientists have successfully developed a new technique for creating molecules that will be able to specifically target cancer cells. These molecules will replace some of the currently used chemotherapy treatments while avoiding most of the side effects caused by them.

Schematic model of the way the new molecules attach itself to the cancer cell

Most anti-cancer therapies marketed to date are non-specific and cause severe side effects on normal tissues such as immune system cells, skin, hair and gut epidermal cells. Dr. Angel Porgador of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Dr. Ofer Mandelboim of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School have developed a new tumor-targeting strategy to avoid these non-specific widespread effects.

The tumor-targeting approach is based on molecules that can identify their target by attaching themselves to special receptors on the cancer cells, thus identifying and eliminating only the harmful cancer cells while keeping the normal healthy body cells unharmed.

Dr. Angel Porgador

In order to advance the potential applications of their research Dr. Porgador and Dr. Mandelboim, along with some of their colleagues, started a new company called NatSpears. The company is currently focusing on accelerating the development of two lead molecules for prostate and melanoma cancer. These new anti-cancer molecules are currently in the pre-clinical stage and if all goes well clinical tests will begin in the near future. The researchers claim that the new tumor-targeting strategy has the future potential to affect many kinds of cancers and to revolutionize the way we treat the disease. Some of the results from the new research will be shown in an international conference that will take place at Ben-Gurion University on the November 22, 2004 under the heading: "Biotechnology, From Basic Research to Application".

Iddo Genuth

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