Science and Innovation
The research activity at the CBRC can be divided into nine distinct fields. Seven of these fields are “cancer specific” and aim to further our understanding, to enhance preventive and diagnostic capabilities and to advance the treatment of each of the cancer types. Two additional fields involve general, basic research and non-specific diagnostics and treatment. We firmly believe that to effectively beat cancer, combined brain power is needed, and consequently, we encourage all forms of collaborations.
Ovarian and Breast Cancer
Genetic pre-dispositions link these two devastating diseases - both related to mutations in the BRCA genes. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer. Breast cancer is increasingly recognized as a heterogeneous disease that exhibits substantial differences in biological behavior and requires distinct therapeutic interventions.
It is believed that susceptibility to both breast and ovarian cancer have genetic contributions such as the BRCA genes. Ashkenazi Jewish women are at five times greater risk of BRCA gene mutations than the general population, which makes understanding these diseases of critical importance in Israel. TAU and its affiliated medical centers encompass one of the largest research teams in Israel with over 15 different research teams. Their mutual aim is to link clinical data with basic research to reduce the brutal statistic of 1 of 8.
Brain Head and Neck
Brain and Central Nervous System cancer are only 1.5% of all new cancer cases, however it contains cancers such as Glioblastoma (GBM) which is the most common and deadliest of malignant primary brain tumors. Head and neck cancers account for about 3.6% of cancer cases detected annually in the US. Smoking, chewing tobacco and consumption of alcoholic beverages are some of the risk factors of these malignancies.
Scientists and clinicians at TAU focus on applying new technologies for detection and treatment for these devastating cancer types. In addition, numerous collaborations between basic research and clinicians aims to decipher the role of the immune system in the protection against these cancers.
Melanoma and skin
Skin cancer, including melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), represents the most common type of malignancy in the Caucasian population. The incidence rate of melanoma is increasing worldwide, while the associated mortality is slightly decreasing. The primary risk factor for malignant melanoma which is very relevant to the Israeli weather is uncontrolled exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV). This results in the fact that skin cancer rate in Israel is among the highest in the world. Currently at TAU and its affiliated medical centers, there are several world leading scientific groups in search for various strategies to diagnose and cure the disease.
Gastrointestinal cancer refers to malignant conditions of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and accessory organs of digestion, including the esophagus, stomach, biliary system, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in Israel. It appears in a similar proportion in men and women. When the disease is detected at an early stage, the chances of healing reach about 90%. Therefore, early detection is a crucial factorfor recovery from colorectal cancer. The main challenge in early detection is the lack of symptoms in its early stage and when symptoms appear it is more difficult to treat and cure. Several different scientific teams at TAU search for biomarkers that can be measured before the onset of the disease or at its earliest stages. Affiliation of three large medical centers (Tel-Aviv Sourasky, Rabin and Sheba) with Tel-Aviv University, offers access to the most comprehensive clinical database of GI cancers. This valuable information is the basis for some of the most advanced studies in early detection and therapy of GI cancers.
Under the auspice of CBRC, the Varda and Boaz Dotan Research Center in Hemato-Oncology was established in 2014. This unique research center is entirely devoted to deepen the understanding of hemato-oncological malignancies and the future development of measures for prevention, diagnosis, and cure of these cancers. Over 20 different research teams are dedicated to find cure to the various types of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma that account for 10% of all cancer incidents.
The center provided research grants to 36 research groups which resulted in numerous papers and presentations in international conferences.
Urinary tract cancer
Latest advances in cancer therapy enabled more effective treatments in for kidney and urinary tract cancer. Targeted therapy (specific antibodies that target cancer cells or the blood vessels surrounding the tumor) and immunotherapy (harnessing the natural immune response to attack the tumor) offers better treatment. TAU scientific groups are involved in deeper understandingof the genetic and cellular processes that lead to the disease which may result in improved targeted therapy.
The global morbidity rate from lung cancer is on the rise. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancersand the treatment has become increasingly complex. Most lung carcinomas are diagnosed at an advanced stage, conferring a poor prognosis. Therefore, there is an urgent need for better biomarkers and more effective local treatments. The focus of the TAU research groups is to further understand the metastatic nature of the cancer cells in order to reduce the disease progression.
Over twenty different scientific groups at the TAU campus are engaged in basic research trying to decipher various aspects of cancer. Most of these groups have a clinical collaborator in one of TAU affiliated medical centers. These studies span from computational tools for gene expression analysis for biomarker discovery at the faculty of Exact Sciences to developing new technologies and cellular models for drug discovery at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.
Diagnostics and Therapy
Specific biomarkers are essential for early detection, diagnosis, and clinical outcomes in all cancer types. This is the focus of several research groups, some of which have already incorporated diagnostic protocols into ongoing clinical work. With respect to therapy and treatment- several clinical trials are currently ongoing to evaluate novel treatment methods developed by TAU scientists.