Speaking in Marlboro, an Israeli medical researcher discussed breakthroughs in cancer treatment made possible through funding by a New York-based cancer research fund.
Dr. Yinon Ben-Neriah said his laboratory, at the Lautenberg Center for Immunology at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, was among the first to identify the significance of the promoter methylation, a commonly occurring modification of human DNA. That helped pave the way for the development of Gleevec, which targets abnormal proteins and has become one of the leading drugs to treat chronic myeloid leukemia.
More recently, Ben-Neriah said in his Nov. 6 talk at Congregation Ohev Shalom Marlboro Jewish Center, he has produced “groundbreaking” research building on the linkage of inflammation to the growth of cancer cells.
“It is counterintuitive,” he said. “You would think the cells would have been killed by the mutation. Instead, we have discovered there is a relation that is helping to grow the cells.”
That linkage could lead to a reduction in non-blood-related cancers through the development of anti-inflammatory drugs that could be taken long-term by individuals with a family history for such cancers.
Ben-Neriah was the recipient of a research grant in the highest and most prestigious category from the Israel Cancer Research Fund. Since 1975, it has awarded $45 million in grants that have produced breakthroughs in the treatment of breast, ovarian, and bone marrow cancers, among others.
Andrew Kaplan of Marlboro, a congregant member and ICRF board member, said more researchers than ever are seeking grants as other funding sources have dried up in the current economic climate.
“But even in tough times we make things happen,” he said. “It’s important for people to understand that you get more bang for your buck in Israel. Because things cost less there, that same $1 million you may give to the American Cancer Society is more like $10 million when the research is done in Israel.”
The organization is looking to get the word out “about the contributions Israel makes to the world through its scientists,” said ICRF’s New York development director, Shoshana Ellihou, and has set its sights on New Jersey as a prime location.
In addition to its main Manhattan office, there are also ICRF offices in Los Angeles, Skokie, Ill., Montreal, and Toronto. For more information or to donate, go to www.icrfonline.org.