March 2021 Newsletter | Toronto
 March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month 

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.


ICRF is currently funding five researchers with a focus on colorectal cancer. Here is Prof. Michal Baniyash's Scientist Snapshot. Her research interests are: Inflammation related complications in non-cancerous and cancerous diseases

Chronic inflammation arising in various non-cancerous and cancerous diseases leads to an abnormal immunity and exposes patients to a variety of complications. These include suppression of the immune system, tissue damage, cardiovascular diseases and initiation of malignancies. It is important to note that chronic inflammation is considered as the “secret killer” as it operates within our body with no signs until complications appear. It is similar to a volcano. In cases of volcano related concerns, seismographs are needed to sense the worsening of the situation before the volcano bursts! Similarly, immune biomarkers, which are the seismographs of the immune system functionality, are needed to sense the immune status of patients and accordingly, direct the physician to apply the suitable type of treatment to avoid complications and health deterioration. During the years we discovered a set of immune biomarkers that could sense the individual’s immune system functionality and developed the detection technology. With these tools in hand, we could fulfill the clinical needs for monitoring the immune status of patients suffering from noncancerous and cancerous chronic diseases. We clinically applied our new technology and proof the concept in clinical studies that with the technology we developed we could achieve the following:
  1. Evaluate of the host’s immune system function and distinguish between acute (beneficial response) and chronic (harmful response) inflammation
  2. Predict responses to immune-based therapies applied today in cancer patients (as shown for melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab) and direct the type of treatment – published in Clinical Cancer research
  3. Detect disease regression or progression and directing the physician of which type oProf. Michal Baniyash, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Immunology & Cancer Research f chemotherapy to give to CRC patients and follow responses – published in Cancer Research
  4. Predict the appearance of complications before they are evident as shown in diabetic patients.
Monitoring such immune system biomarkers is expected to have a major clinical impact in addition to unraveling the entangled complexity underlying abnormal immunity that is evident during chronic inflammation. Thus, newly discovered biomarkers and those that are currently under investigation are projected to open a new era towards combating the silent damage induced by chronic inflammation.

Uncovering The Anti-Myeloma Resistance Files

From bedside to bench and back: Researchers reveal a genetic signature that could help overcome drug resistance in some of the most aggressive forms of multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) patients live much longer today than in the past, thanks to new targeted anti-myeloma drugs, but ultimately most develop resistance to the medications, and in some the disease is resistant to therapy from the start. Weizmann Institute of Science researchers, in collaboration with physicians from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (TASMC), have made use of extremely sensitive genomic technology to reveal genetic pathways that characterize some of the more resistant cases of multiple myeloma. Their study, reported in Nature Medicine, may lead to a more informed, personalized treatment for these patients, and it paves the way to using this new technology for discovering additional disease targets in other cancers.

Malignant myeloma is a cancer of the antibody-producing plasma cells found in the bone marrow. To expose the mechanisms the malignant plasma cells use to evade the anti-myeloma drugs, Dr. Assaf Weiner, Mor Zada, Dr. Shuang-Yin Wang and other members of a research team headed by Prof. Ido Amit of Weizmann’s Immunology Department studied newly diagnosed myeloma patients whose cancers had failed to respond to the initial therapy or relapsed soon afterwards.

The patients, treated at TAMSC and 14 other hospitals all over Israel, were enrolled in a clinical trial – led by Dr. Yael C. Cohen, head of the Myeloma Unit at TAMSC – aimed at testing whether a combination of four anti-myeloma drugs could overcome the cancer’s resistance. “Patients who fail to respond to the first line of treatment have poor prospects for survival, so new treatment strategies are urgently needed,” Dr. Cohen says.

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We are pleased to share our joint webinar with Technion Canada featuring Prof. Yuval Shaked discussing 
Lemons to Lemonade: New approaches to personalized medicine in oncology 

Watch the Webinar

Israelis create cancer drug without animal tests, by using human-simulating chip


Hebrew University professor says tech that mimics human body can now be used to develop other new treatments, saving time, animals’ lives and money.

Israeli scientists have developed a cancer drug without testing it on animals by using a chip that simulates the human body.

Hebrew University researchers created a chip containing human tissue with microscopic sensors to precisely monitor the response of the human body — kidney, liver and heart — to specific drug treatments.

The idea of organ-on-chip technology is 30 years old, but the Israeli team is believed to be the first to successfully create a new treatment using a chip’s capabilities in order to completely eliminate animal testing.

They are so confident in their research, which paired two existing drugs in order to solve a problem of excess liver fat experienced by some cancer patients, that they are submitting the combination for a patent, for clinical trials, and for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration — all while skipping the normal animal testing.

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Cancer bacteria can be used against tumors, Weizmann Institute study finds


Cancer cells seem to present bacterial peptides on their cell walls, which reveals their existence to the immune system’s T Cells.

Cancer cells present bacterial peptides on the outside of their walls, marking them as a foreign element to the body’s immune system, Weizmann Institute scientists report in a new article published in Nature
This is crucial as while immunotherapy has been able to help melanoma cancer patients in roughly 40% of cases, the new findings could pave the road to more effective treatments and many lives saved in the future. 

Using methods developed by Dr. Ravid Straussman of Weizmann's Molecular Cell Biology Department, a team under Prof. Yardena Samuels led by Dr. Shelly Kalaora and Adi Nagler used samples taken from nine patients to examine 17 melanoma tumors to find out which peptides could be "seen" by the body's own defense system.

The team worked closely with partners in Israel, like Technion Prof. Arie Admon, and in the US, including Dr. Jennifer A. Wargo of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Prof Scott N. Peterson of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute  and Prof. Eytan Ruppin of the National Cancer Institute. 

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WOA Celebration | Less than three weeks away! 
Get Your Ticket, Buy Raffle Tickets or Order a Brunch Box!

As we begin to plan for Revolving Tables, our incredible Next Generation event, this coming Fall/Winter, we want you to be a part of it!  Are you between the ages of 18-40? Contact Chaim Baker at or message us on instagram @icrftoronto to join our ICRF Revolving Tables Committee!

We need YOU! 

Your lasting legacy through ICRF will impact cancer research in Israel for generations to come.

With a planned gift to Israel Cancer Research Fund, you can leave a philanthropic legacy that will help those touched by cancer – now and for years to come. Whether you would like to put your donation to work today or in the future, there are a variety of opportunities for making a legacy commitment to ICRF.

Please contact Jennifer Ouaknine at or at 647-973-4273 to learn how you can create a lasting impact on the future of cancer research. 
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