Published On: Wed, Jun 6th, 2018

Israeli Groundbreaking Treatment Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth and Changes These Cells Back to Normal Ones

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University develop a new molecule that inhibits the development of a protein that is most active in cancer cells.

A group of Israeli researchers have developed a groundbreaking molecule that inhibits cancer cell growth and changes these cells back to normal ones.

“Although this is in the early stages, we are excited with results that demonstrate this novel molecule’s potential for cancer treatment,” says Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz. “Basically, we’ve discovered a code for reprogramming cancer cells that causes them to lose their oncogenic features.”

The patented technology is based on preventing the expression of the mitochondrial gatekeeper protein VDAC1. Cancer cells have hundred times more VDAC1 than normal cells. It is highly expressed in different types of tumors and found to alter cancer hallmarks including the rewiring of pathways for growth and survival that underlie the malignant phenotype.

The team found that VDAC1 is the key to opening and closing the door to the mitochondria control cell metabolism. So they have developed the new molecule called siRNA, which silencing VDAC1, and when applied to the cells, they are able to inhibit cancer cell growth. Moreover, the cells were found to go back to normal ones.

“It reduced tumor growth and angiogenesis, reduced tumor invasiveness, and induced cancer stem cell disappearance and cell differentiation,” says Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz.

The study was conducted on brain cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer cells in both vitro and in mouse models.

But still, those normal cells have their original mutations, “we don’t fix the mutational genes. We do modify the activity of these genes to be like normal cells,” said prof. Shoshan-Barmatz.

This ability offers potentially wide applicability, since treating the cells in a culture with the siRNA resulted in significant inhibition of cancerous cell growth without affecting noncancerous cells ─ an indication of a potentially safe treatment, the University statement said.

Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz has previously demonstrated that silencing VDAC1 expression using the siRNA method ─ a tool that temporarily silences protein coding genes ─ leads to inhibition of cancer cell growth both in vitro and in mouse models of glioblastoma lung cancer and triple negative breast cancer.

Dr. Ora Horovitz, senior vice president of business development at BGN Technologies concluded: “We are now seeking partners to further develop and advance this promising treatment in a clinical setting in the hope that it will lead to a novel path for cancer treatment.”

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