Cancer treatment developed at Ben-Gurion U. changes cancer cells into normal ones

NEW YORK… May 11, 2018 – BGN Technologies, the technology-transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), announced that a research group led by Prof. Varda Shoshan-Barmatz of the BGU Department of Life Sciences and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, is developing a new molecule to treat cancer 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 reprograming cancer cells that causes them to lose their oncogenic features."

The novel treatment is based on siRNA (small interfering ribonucleic acid), which silences expression of the mitochondrial gatekeeper protein, VDAC1. This protein is highly overexpressed in many solid and non-solid tumors and is crucial for supplying the high energy demands of malignant cells.

By silencing VDAC1, the researchers were able to inhibit cancerous cell growth. This 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.

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.

Treatment of cancer cells with VDAC1-specific siRNA also induces metabolic rewiring of the cancer cells, reversing their oncogenic properties and diverting them towards normal differentiated cells.

"Using the siRNA treatment for several types of cancer in mouse models reprogramed cancer cell metabolism, reduced tumor growth and angiogenesis, reduced tumor invasiveness, and induced cancer stem cell disappearance and cell differentiation," says Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz.

"We have patented the technology and 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," says Dr. Ora Horovitz, senior vice president of business development at BGN Technologies.

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About BGN Technologies

BGN Technologies is the technology-transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). BGN Technologies brings technological innovations from the lab to the market and fosters research collaborations and entrepreneurship among researchers and students. To date, BGN Technologies has established more than 100 startup companies in the fields of biotech, high-tech and cleantech, and has initiated leading technology hubs, incubators and accelerators. Over the past decade, BGN Technologies has focused on creating long-term partnerships with multinational corporations, securing value and growth for BGU, as well as the Negev region. For more information, visit the BGN Technologies website.

About NIBN

The National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) is an autonomous entity that functions under the auspices of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). NIBN objectives are to develop biotechnology projects toward commercialization — promoting excellent science and translating outstanding interdisciplinary basic research into applied projects that will appeal to the biopharma industry. In its capacity as a national institute dedicated to biotechnology research and development, NIBN is committed to establishing collaborative links with Israeli industry. In that spirit, its newest, recently inaugurated NIBN building includes a cluster of research laboratories and office space for industrial rental use.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.

AABGU, which is headquartered in Manhattan, has nine regional offices throughout the United States. For more information, visit http://www.aabgu.org.

Media Contact

Andrew Lavin
[email protected]
516-353-2505

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