Aaron Ciechanover, Israel Cancer Research Fund "Research Professor" Announces Breakthrough in Cancer Research

Ubiquitin system produces a protein that greatly restricts the development of cancerous tumors

Apr 17, 2015, 11:29 ET from The Israel Cancer Research Fund

NEW YORK, April 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Aaron Ciechanover, a 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate, and a recipient of the prestigious Research Professorship of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), has reported that his team of researchers at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology has discovered two cancer suppressing proteins.

According to Professor Ciechanover, many more years are required "to establish the research and gain a solid understanding of the mechanisms behind the suppression of the tumors. The development of a drug based on this discovery is a possibility but not a certainty, and the road to such a drug is long and far from simple."

Professor Ciechanover won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004, together with Professor Avram Hershko, also from the Technion, and Irwin Rose of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, for the discovery of the Ubiquitin System, the body's method of removing damaged proteins. Their research helped to understand how the cell controls a number of central processes such as cell division and integral parts of immune defense, and has led directly to the development of Velcade, an anticancer drug used to treat multiple myeloma and lymphoma. The current research is a continuation of that initial discovery.  

"We are thrilled to hear about Aaron Ciechanover's recent discovery," said Ken Goodman, chairman of the Israel Cancer Research Fund. "'We have been supporting Ciechanover's pioneering research for over thirty years (thanks to the support of the Janice and Jeff Bly of Toronto, Canada,  and others) so that he can expedite his brilliant, investigative work."

The efforts of Israeli cancer researchers have resulted in many significant breakthroughs in recent years. According to Brad Goldhar, ICRF President, "We are extremely proud of our  ICRF-funded scientists and the intellectual and innovative research taking place in Israel today.  The scientists that we have funded have helped to elucidate the role of the p53 tumor-suppressor gene (present in 50 percent of all human cancer and now the most studied gene in the human genome), develop widely used cancer drugs (Doxil ,Gleevec and Velcade), and new bone marrow transplant techniques. They have enhanced our understanding of BRCA1 and 2 related breast cancer. In the research we fund, all types of cancer are targeted: brain, breast, colon, eye, gastrointestinal, kidney, liver, lung, ovarian and more."

The Israel Cancer Research Fund is the largest organization in North America devoted solely to supporting cancer research in Israel. Founded in 1975 by a group of American and Canadian researchers, oncologists, and lay people, ICRF has provided  more than 2,000 grants  totaling  more than $50 million to outstanding scientists who work at all of the leading research institutions in Israel.

Major accomplishments of ICRF grantees include:

  • Velcade - a drug used to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, was developed based on the research of ICRF Professors and Nobel Prize winners, Drs. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology
  • Gleevec - the first drug to directly target cancer cells, was developed based on the research work of ICRF awardee, Dr. Eli Canaani, Weizmann Institute of Science
  • Doxil - the first drug encapsulated in a liposome (or microscopic fat bubble) for direct delivery to a tumor site, was developed by ICRF awardee, Dr. Alberto Gabizon, Shaare Zedek Medical Center
  • The p53 Gene - originally thought to cause cancer, was correctly identified as a tumor suppressor, and its role in the majority of human cancers further elucidated by ICRF awardees, Drs. Moshe Oren and Varda Rotter, Weizmann Institute of Science
  • DNA Methylation - is a molecular process that turns genes on and off. Pioneering work in this area was performed by ICRF Professor and Israel Prize winner, Dr. Howard Cedar, Hebrew University/Hadassah Medical School
  • The RAD51 Gene - The discovery that a minor mutation in this gene increases the risk of breast cancer in women with the BRCA2 gene mutation was made by ICRF awardee Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Shaare Zedek Medical Center 
  • A Novel Bone Marrow Transplant Technique - to greatly expand the donor pool for leukemia treatment, was developed by ICRF awardee, Dr. Yair Reisner, Weizmann Institute of Science


SOURCE The Israel Cancer Research Fund