Yissum has introduced a novel method for treating cancer based on Vif, a protein isolated from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1).
The method was invented by Professor Emeritus Moshe Kotler and Dr. Roni Nowarski from the Department of Immunology and Cancer Research at the Hebrew University.
The scientists discovered a small peptide derived from the HIV-1 Vif protein, which inhibits DNA repair specifically in activated hematopoietic cells following exposure to ionizing radiation.
This, in effect, can be used to inhibit DNA repair in lymphoid and meyloid malignancies, such as lymphoma or myeloma, thereby rendering them more susceptible to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The Vif-derived peptide prevents DNA repair by inhibiting a protein, called A3G, which is responsible for anti-viral innate immunity.
However, the researchers discovered that A3G also plays a role in DNA repair in lymphoid and myeloid malignancies.
Furthermore, since the novel cancer treatment method targets an antiviral protein with no known essential functions involving normal cell physiology, and which is uniquely expressed in activated and malignant hematopoietic cells, it is expected to have minimal side effects.
The novel Vif peptide has already been shown to significantly increase the efficiency of radiation therapy in cultured lymphoma and myeloma cells.
The findings were published under the title APOBEC3G enhances lymphoma cell radio resistance by promoting cytidine deaminase-dependent DNA repair by Nowarski et al., in the latest issue of Blood, the journal of the American society of hematology.
The technology was patented by Yissum, which is currently searching for an appropriate partner for the further development and commercialization of the product.
DNA breaks induced by ionizing radiation or by chemotherapy are often used in order to kill various types of cancer cells. Double strand DNA breaks are very toxic to cells, if not repaired, leading to cell death.
However, an elevated DNA break-repair capacity in several cancer cells often leads to radiation resistance and severely limits the efficacy of radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum, commented, "According to the CDC, in 2010 cancer was the second leading cause of death in the US, slightly surpassed only by heart disease. Therefore, there is a great need for more effective, targeted treatments, with fewer side effects. The treatment invented by the Hebrew University researchers holds great promise as a new biological treatment for cancer."