Your JULY Newsletter | Toronto

Save the Date:
Bike for the Fight @ HOME

Join us on Sunday, September 13 for a day of wellness where participants and teams push their limits in the fight against cancer. This year's Bike for the Fight offers an array of workout classes: Spin, Yoga, Pilates and Cardio Fit to HIIT & more! Put your squad together or battle it out on your own! Incredible raffle packages coming soon!

Register today!

Register Today
ICRF International Gala
We are so excited to welcome Jason Alexander, Eugene Levy and more as they join us at the ICRF International 2020 Ribbons of Hope Virtual Celebration!  
We hope you will join us online on Wednesday, August 5 at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT/5:00 pm PT.
Register Now


Yinon Ben-Neriah, ICRF Funded Researcher publishes paper in Nature: The gut microbiome switches mutant p53 from tumour-suppressive to oncogenic

Somatic mutations in p53, which inactivate the tumour-suppressor function of p53 and often confer oncogenic gain-of-function properties, are very common in cancer.

We found that mutant versions of p53 had contrasting effects in different segments of the gut: in the distal gut, mutant p53 had the expected oncogenic effect; however, in the proximal gut and in tumour organoids it had a pronounced tumour-suppressive effect. Preview article here.
Read full abstract

New approach for overcoming melanoma's resistance to anti-cancer drugs

Melanoma often presents a rapid resistance to molecular anti-cancer therapies. Although there have been advances in targeted and immunotherapy melanoma treatments in recent years, a substantial percentage of patients fail to respond or develop resistance to such therapies.

Now, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have suggested a new approach to overcoming anticancer-drug resistance in melanoma. Now, in a discovery that could in the future help address this major clinical challenge, the Israeli researchers have uncovered two proteins that play together a major role in drug resistant melanoma.
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Sheba launches world's first ‘reversed personalized medicine’ cancer trial

A first-ever human clinical trial could extend or even save patients’ lives by neutralizing cancer’s ability to block a patient’s natural immune defense mechanisms, which are usually exhausted when the patient is suffering from metastatic disease.

The 40-patient clinical study conceived and led by Prof. Gal Markel, director of the Ella Lemelbaum Institute for Immuno-Oncology at Sheba Medical Center, will treat resistant metastatic melanoma, triple-negative breast cancer, renal cell carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer patients using Immunicom’s LW-02 plasma filtration.

“Immunicom’s novel methodology represents a sea change from traditional standards-of-care and offers the potential for achieving much better clinical outcomes with fewer treatment side effects,” Markel told The Jerusalem Post.
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Meet our Toronto ICRF Funded Researcher

Yitzhak Pilpel, PHD - Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science

Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Yitzhak Pilpel is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

He began his academic career at Tel-Aviv University where he received a BSc in Biology, and he then moved to the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, to pursue a PhD in research at the Department of Molecular Genetics.  He later moved to Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, for a Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Genetics, working with Prof. George Church of the structure of genetic networks.

In 2003 Dr. Pilpel returned to the Department of Molecular Genetics in the Weizmann Institute of Science, as a faculty member where he is today.  Dr. Pilpel takes a systems and genome biology approach to the study of living organisms. He combines computational and experimental biology including bioinformatics, modeling, deep sequencing, genome engineering and synthetic biology.  He is interested in the various factors that govern the efficiency of the process including the interplay between the tRNA pool in the cell and the translated mRNAs.  His lab works on deciphering regulatory networks that couple between transcription and translation of genes and transcription of tRNA genes.  A special area of research in the lab is cancer genomics and cancer evolution. In particular he asks how cancer evolves to modify its gene expression programs, translation of proteins in particular, to obtain improved cellular proliferation. His research is being supported by grants from The European Research Council (ERC), The Israel Science foundation (ISF), and Minerva stiftung.

Dr. Pilpel is an EMBO Member and was an EMBO Young Investigator.  He served until recently as the Head of the Committee on Appointment of Senior Scientists (tenure track faculty entry rank) at the Life Sciences Faculties, Weizmann Institute of Science.  He heads the Advanced ERC grant panel in Systems Biology (LS2) at the European Research Council.  Dr. Pilpel is the Director of the Azrieli Institute of Systems Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science.  He was an Associate Editor for “PLoS Computational Biology”, an Associate Editor for Biology Direct, an Associate Editorial of “Database” and an Editorial Board Member at Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. He has authored or coauthored more than 80 original articles and many more to come.

ICRF Funded Researcher talks COVID-19

Recovered COVID-19 patients contains blueprint for building molecule that may accelerate recovery, or form basis of vaccine

Dr Ziv Shulman, Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science says that the blood of coronavirus patients who have fully recovered from the disease contains a blueprint for building a molecule that may accelerate others’ recovery, or possibly form the basis of a vaccine.


Some severely ill coronavirus patients have already been treated on an experimental basis with the blood plasma of recovered patients, which is teeming with antibodies against the virus. But this method is unlikely to offer a large-scale method of treatment or prevention, as it depends on plasma donations from recovered patients, alone. In contrast, synthetic antibodies could be produced in large amounts by pharmaceutical companies and they are relatively safe.

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How I Maintain Perspective As a Surgeon, Mother, and Cancer Survivor
In high-pressure moments, it's all about the words I tell myself
By Tali Lando, M.D

The five-pound ex-23 week preemie infant on my operating table has already lead a challenging life in his mere 128 days on this planet. A portion of his gut has died and been resected due to a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis. His friable blood vessels have already bled into the ventricles of his brain on more than one occasion. His severely underdeveloped lungs cannot not oxygenate his body without high-pressured mechanical ventilator support.

Now he is here with me in OR 1 being prepared for a surgery which would enable him to breathe through a small plastic tube emanating directly from his neck. It is an operation I have done hundreds of times on all ages of patients ranging from neonatal to geriatric in my more than decade career as an ENT surgeon. I may have even done a thousand by now if you also count the seven years of training during residency and fellowship.

There is a tension in the air that I don’t remember feeling before early-March of this year.

The difference with this case is that it is being performed in the unprecedented Covid-era. The preparation for an airway procedure with the pandemic raging is elaborate. It involves complex plastic draping over a structure of metal rods, proper filtration of air and specialized masks under standard surgical masks, then covered by shields. This system is all target to contain the aerosolized particles in a narrow field, thus limiting exposure to the anesthesiologists, surgeons, and operating room staff as much as possible. We are finally ready to transport the baby from his self-contained isolet onto our operating table.

The performance of a surgical tracheostomy on a neonate is a relatively straightforward procedure, from an anatomical perspective. First, we position the baby. The neck is extended on a roll made of a single baby blanket and the head is secured in a rubberized “doughnut.” The level of the cricoid cartilage is marked in blue as is the future incision site, two finger breaths above the sternal notch, marked with a blue “V.”

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Join us monthly for our ICRF Brilliant Minds webinar!  

We hope you have been enjoying our webinars, please join us on August 19th at 12:00pm for a conversation with Prof. Yossi Shiloh.  Yossi Shiloh is a Professor of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.  Yossi holds the David and Inez Myers Chair in Cancer Genetics and an ICRF Research Professorship. He will be speaking about his research in radiation therapy. 
We hope you can join us!
Learn more


Our mission is to continue to find treatments and cures for all forms of cancer, utilizing the unique benefits Israel and its scientists have to offer. The results of the research have a significant impact in Toronto, across Canada and throughout the world.

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