Cancer, a merciless aggressor affecting so many homes in Israel and around the world, is on the run, thanks to Dr. David Sidransky. He discussed his pioneering work in early cancer detection on Israel National Radio's Yishai and Friends show with Yishai and Malkah Fleisher on July 2.
Dr. Sidransky, Professor of Oncology and Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Research Division at Johns Hopkins University, was recognized by TIME magazine in 2001 as one of America's top physicians and scientists for his work on early cancer detection and prediction methods. He is also one of the most cited scientists in medical and scientific journals in the world.
"Cancer, within 10 years, is going to become more of a chronic disease," Dr. Sidransky told Yishai Fleisher. With the rapid advancement in cancer research, Dr. Sidransky is "extremely enthusiastic" that treatments will soon be able to vastly prolong the life of some cancer patients, and cure others.
Dr. Sidransky (R.) with Malkah and Yishai Fleisher (Israel news photo)
The Technology of Champions
His own work has made tremendous strides in the field. Dr. Sidransky chairs Champions Biotechnology, a company specializing in the design of advanced preclinical platforms and predictive tumor specific data to improve and accelerate the value of oncology drugs and early detection of cancer.
Dr. Sidransky’s research at Champions Biotechnology seeks to detect mutated cancerous cells by searching for genetic changes in the body, notably in fluids such as blood and urine, to detect cancer in its early stages and quickly determine personalized treatment for patients.
Dr. Sidransky explained a revolutionary process by which an individual’s tumor cells, and therefore the genetics of the tumor, are implanted in mice, and a colony of mice with the implanted gene is grown. This technique allows researchers to test various oncology drugs on the gene and quickly determine a specific, personalized treatment for the patient.
Champions Biotechnology recently established a branch in Israel. Israeli citizens will now be able to receive this innovative treatment in-country, although it is still expensive at this stage.
"It really takes those that know the most to realize that they know the least, that there's still so much more to know... you're seeing the etzbah elokim, the finger of G-d, in everything that you do."
"I think Israel is making tremendous strides, and I think it's a wonderful place to be doing biotechnology," Dr. Sidransky said. "It's one of the reasons we opened up our company here, and I think it will not be long before Israel will lead in many areas in biotechnology the way it does in hi-tech right now."
Dr. Sidransky praised Israeli science, telling Fleisher that "some of the best ideas in biotechnology, as well as medicine, arise in the State of Israel," thanks to what Dr. Sidransky called Israel's "tremendous amount of human capital."
According to the doctor, future work will include “complete genetic characterization of a baby to help understand what are the risk factors for that baby;” Doctors and families will be able to adapt their lifestyles to reduce risk factors related to genetic predispositions, and possibly be able to begin treating illnesses before they start.
Some words about G-d
With many years of research under his belt, and many more planned for the future, Dr. Sidransky believes science reveals G-d's blueprint of the world, and says good science and ardent faith go hand in hand.
"Just a few years ago… about 80 percent of scientists said that the more they understand about the way the world works, … [the more they realize] that in fact there was a great power that created this," Dr. Sidransky said. "When they looked at really the top scientists, those that are really leading the field, it was virtually 100%. And it really takes those that know the most to realize that they know the least, that there's still so much more to know... you're seeing the etzbah elokim, the finger of G-d, in everything that you do."
When Fleisher suggested to Dr. Sidransky that he is a Zionist, Dr. Sidransky responded by saying "Absolutely. One hundred percent. I think this is the home of all the Jews,” he said, “and I think this is where we have to be.”