Prize for Senior Israeli Bio-Medical Researcher:
Prof. Yinon Ben-Neriah
The biological basis of the link between chronic inflammation and cancer has been unclear for researchers for many years. Professor Yinon Ben-Neriah and his colleagues from the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been researching the link between inflammation and cancer in animals with cancer of common types in humans. They identified the preliminary key in understanding this link, which was initially detected 150 years ago. They had discovered that this “key” is activated in the inflammation, and as a reaction it produces proteins that protect young cancer cells from dying, thus enabling their proliferation.
Ben-Neriah’s team further discovered new forms of inflammatory reactions which are common in cancerous tumors, including latent infection that is detected only through special means and that facilitates the development of cancer. They found that aspirin-like anti -inflammatory medication suppresses the latent infection in cancer bearing mice, thus proposing that the explanation for the notable anti-cancerous effect of prolonged aspirin treatment in human patients, lies here. The diagnosis of latent, uncommon inflammations may have a great impact on the success of monitoring and treating many types of cancers. Ben-Neriah and his team are hard at work in the lab, developing tools for classifying the different types of inflammation and for understanding their development.
Further to his achievements in basic bio-medical research, Prof. Yinon Ben-Neriah has greatly contributed to translational medicine. Prof. Ben-Neriah and Prof. Alex Levitzki developed the first effective inhibitors of the Bcr-Abl protein, which eliminate chronic myeloid leukemia cells. These studies ultimately paved the way for the development of Gleevec, the flagship drug for treating CML disease. In addition to the abovementioned, Prof. Ben-Neriah and his team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Medicine lab, are currently developing a new type of inhibitors, which target the protein phosphatase enzyme CKI, as a new form effective chemotherapy, particularly effective in treating acute leukemia.