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Fighting Cancer

Science for the Future of Cancer Research

At the Weizmann Institute of Science, more than 50 research groups focus on developing better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. In fact, nearly half of Weizmann’s life sciences research is cancer-related. Institute research has provided critical knowledge about cancer in general—Weizmann scientists were the first to demonstrate that cancer can grow in stages—as well as about specific cancers, such as breast, lung, and prostate. The Institute’s collaborative teams are working to turn basic research into powerful diagnostic tools, drugs, and therapies to fight cancer—and win.

Weizmann by the Numbers

  • We were first to clone p53, the gene involved in over 50% of all cancers
  • Our research led to the world’s first bone-marrow transplant between incompatible people
  • Over 60 research groups focus on cancer – that’s ~40% of all our life-science research

Selected Achievements

Imagine science that leads to new breast cancer treatments.

In a breakthrough that is leading to new cancer therapies, Prof. Yosef Yarden revealed the function of HER2, a protein found in particularly large amounts in breast and ovarian tumors. He received the Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor, for his work.

Imagine science that leads to the first FDA-approved gene therapy for cancer.

Prof. Zelig Eshhar pioneered cancer immunotherapy by developing CAR-T cells, which harness the patient’s immune system to fight disease. A treatment based on his method has resulted in total remission in many leukemia patients. CAR-T gene therapy made history as the first such treatment approved by the FDA.

Imagine science that uses antibodies to help standard therapies fight cancer.

A cancer therapy developed by a Weizmann team combines a chlorophyll-based drug with light to destroy tumors. The highly successful procedure is now approved in Mexico, India, Israel, and the European Union for treating early-stage prostate cancer.

Imagine science that invents FDA-approved therapies for colorectal and head and neck cancers.

Weizmann scientists invented the synergistic effect behind Erbitux®, an antibody-based therapy that works together with conventional chemotherapy to defeat cancer. In 2001, Erbitux® was FDA approved to treat colorectal and head and neck cancers.

Imagine science that can assess your risk for lung cancer–with a blood test.

A Weizmann scientist identified an enzyme that helps protect against lung cancer, finding that genetic differences may explain why some people get the disease while others, including smokers, don’t. He created a simple blood test to gauge personal risk.

Imagine science that enables bone marrow transplants between incompatible donors and patients.

Prof. Yair Reisner developed a solution to the problem of bone marrow transplantation between incompatible donors and recipients by using a hormone to mobilize the bone marrow cells of patients such as leukemia sufferers and “bubble” children. His lifesaving method is today used worldwide.

Imagine science that enables biopsy-free detection of breast and prostate cancer.

Prof. Hadassa Degani developed an MRI-based method called three time point (3TP) that identifies cancer without the need for painful biopsies. It is FDA approved for diagnosing breast and prostate cancer.