Scientists at Tel Aviv University have come up with a new method of treating cancer tumors that may permanently destroy them and increase the odds of preventing the return of the disease.
The research team of Professor Yona Keisari (TAU Sackler Faculty of Medicine) and Professor Itzhak Kelson (TAU Department of Physics and Astronomy) based the method on "tumor ablation" -- the process of destroying a tumor inside the body.
The team developed a radioactive wire, less than an inch long and about the width of a pin.
When inserted into a solid tumor, the wire releases lethal radioactive atoms that irradiate the tumor from the inside out. As it breaks down, the tumor itself releases antigens which trigger an immune response against the cancer cells, Keisari explains. Not only are the cancerous cells destroyed, but in most cases the body also develops immunity against the return of the tumor.
The research has been published in several journals, including the Translational Research journal.
The treatment, "Diffusing Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy, is being managed commercially by Althera Medical Ltd. in Tel Aviv and New York and is shortly due to start clinical trials at Beilinson Hospital.
A second ablation technique, called "pulsed electric current ablation" is also being tested by Keisari together with Professor Rafi Korenstein (TAU Sackler Faculty of Medicine) as well.
This second method involves the insertion of electrodes into tumors, which then emit electrical currents. These create a chemical reaction which destroys the tumor, Keisari said.
Israel is at the cutting edge in the field of research into diagnosis and treatment of cancer, with new breakthroughs being made by research teams from north to south, at Tel Aviv University, Haifa's Rambam Medical Center, Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.