February 2023
ICRF, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation Partner
to Address Cancer and Aging
ICRF and the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) have announced a two-year collaborative program to address the rising incidence of cancer associated with aging. Two grants will be awarded to two pairs of investigators, comprised of one Israeli and one American.

Aging is a leading risk factor for developing cancer. Around the world, the median age of a cancer diagnosis is 65 years old, with the highest rates in people between 85-89. According to the World Health Organization, people over age 60 will number over 2 billion by 2050, drastically increasing the global burden of cancer.

“Understanding the connection between aging and cancer is a daunting challenge. Not only does cancer risk increase as we age, but research suggests that cancers and some of its treatments can accelerate aging and many current medications are too toxic for older patients to tolerate,” said Beryl Chernov, ICRF National Executive Director. “We are excited to partner again with SWCRF and work together to focus on this crucial, and much needed, area of research.”   

ICRF Launches Circle of Inspiration on February 15
The Circle of Inspiration project is a way to share the inspiring stories related to the cancer journeys of members of the extended ICRF family – and to honor individuals whose cancer diagnosis served as an opportunity to help others and advance ICRF's search for cures and life-extending treatments. Together, they are true beacons of light in scary and dark moments.

At their essence, Heroes of Inspiration inspire us with their stories; Champions of Hope give us hope by their impactful legacies, and the Inspiration Society ensures the work of ICRF will continue for years to come. 

Remembering Lou Brause
Lou Brause, Chairman of Brause Realty Inc. in New York City, was involved with ICRF for more than 35 years.  Recognizing the quality of Israel’s brilliant scientists and the significant shortage of funds to support their research, Brause became active in the organization, serving as Vice Chairman of ICRF International Board of Trustees and Co-Chairman of ICRF New York Chapter.

He created the ICRF "Brause Family Initiative for Quality of Life” Grant to support Israeli investigators studying cancer treatment related to pain, side effects, and emotional problems experienced by cancer patients, in order to help them maintain the best  quality of life. Lou was a consummate gentleman and was loved and respected by the entire ICRF community for his genuine warmth and generosity.

In addition to ICRF, Lou was devoted to Beit Issie Shapiro and was honored for his involvement with Israel Bonds, ORT and UJA. ICRF extends its deepest condolences to his loving wife Ruth; his children Michelle and Steven Litt, Debbie and Michael Bunder, and David and Cheryl Brause; his siblings Roberta, Rita, and Barry and Geraldine Brause; and his grandchildren Allison, Rebecca, and Alex Litt; Nicole, Jared, and Caroline Bunder; and Sam, Anna, and Sophie Brause.
Anxiety Meds Lower Rate of Metasasis in Colon Cancer Patients
ICRF Project Grantee Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, PhD of Tel Aviv University, discusses the results of a new study revealing that after primary colon tumors were surgically removed from 34 patients, 16 of them received a simple two-drug treatment that lowered their blood pressure and reduced anxiety, and drastically decreased their risk of metastasis. While the risk of metastasis after tumor removal is usually about 35 percent in colon cancer patients, Ben-Eliyahu reports that only two patients out of the 16 experienced metastasis five years after surgery. ICRF support is acknowledged in articles published in Nature Reviews Cancer and European Journal of Surgical Oncology
 
Peptide Prevents Breast Cancer Spread in Mice
An estimated 90 percent of deaths from breast cancer are due to complications resulting from metastasis. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University, led by ICRF Project Grantee Hava Gil Henn, PhD and Jordan Chill, PhD produced a peptide—a chain of amino acids—to stop cancer cells from entering the blood and moving around the body. The peer-reviewed research, published in Oncogene, showed that the peptide, administered to mice with breast cancer, prevented metastasis with 90 percent success. The next challenge, according to the researchers, is to develop a drug to prevent secondary tumors in the human body.   

Research on DNA Methylation Leads to Blood Test
to Detect Cancer
ICRF spoke to Howard Cedar, MD, PhD, and Yuval Dor, PhD, of the Hebrew University Medical School, about their pioneering work in DNA methylation, a molecular process that turns genes on and off, and the recent development of a blood test for the early detection of cancer, which is based on this research. Professor Cedar is the recipient of numerous awards for his pioneering discoveries, including the Israel Prize in Biology and the Wolf Prize in Medicine. He has the distinction of being ICRF’s first Research Professorship Grant recipient, the most prestigious ICRF grant category, and has been supported continuously by ICRF since 1987. 

Professor Dor, a previously funded ICRF grantee who was the recipient of the first Barbara S. Goodman Endowed Research Career Development Award in Pancreatic Cancer, spent many years working in Professor Cedar’s lab. He applied the findings in DNA methylation, and developed a breakthrough blood test for the early detection of cancer. The test examines DNA in blood and is capable of detecting more than 30 different kinds of cancer, even before there are clinical symptoms.

The goal of medicine is to try to prevent these diseases [cancer]. This is the place where basic research comes to the fore, and again, I give all the credit to the ICRF.


Professor Howard Cedar
Basic Research is Focus of ICRF-Funded Scientists
Basic laboratory research uncovers the molecular biological events that lead to cancer. Although fundamental research may not offer an immediate cure, it is imperative to furthering our understanding of cancer and it is the stepping stone to treatments and cures. Without basic research there is no clinical research. Below is information on the investigations of four ICRF scientists who are using basic research techniques to ultimately uncover novel therapies for cancer:
Ehud Herbst, PhD is the recipient of an ICRF Postdoctoral Fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Sorek at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Like humans, bacteria have immune systems that enable them to combat infecting viruses. It was recently discovered that two compounds that have been in use for decades as frontline cancer therapies are produced by bacteria as part of their own anti-viral defense pathways. Dr. Herbst’s research focuses on how molecules that microbes make to fight their enemies can be put to use as novel therapies for cancer.
Benjamin Berman, PhD, the recipient of the Dr. Jerry Gross Memorial Project Grant at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studies the genomic patterns of DNA methylation (a molecular process that turns genes on and off) as well as epigenetics (how cells control gene activity without changing the DNA sequence). His laboratory has developed computational tools to analyze methylation patterns from DNA that is released from cancer cells and circulates in a patient’s blood. This may lead to the identification of new biomarkers that can predict which drugs can effectively target the changes that have occurred in the cancer of a specific patient.
Dan Levy, PhD, whose research also involves DNA methylation, is the recipient of an ICRF Project Grant at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Protein kinases (a type of enzyme) are important therapeutic targets in cancer because they may cause other molecules in the cell to become either active or inactive. Dr. Levy is focusing on the enzyme Aurora-B which plays an essential role in cell-cycle progression. Based on preliminary data obtained in his lab, he plans to test whether Aurora-B methylation plays a key role in the pathology of certain cancers and whether inhibiting the function of Aurora kinases could become a therapeutic target.
Gil Ast, PhD, of Tel Aviv University is also a recipient of an ICRF Project Grant. DNA splicing is a key regulatory mechanism that can determine what proteins are made when, and how much is produced. This process is disturbed in many genetic diseases and in some cancers. Professor Ast seeks to understand how DNA is organized within the nucleus of a cell, which must convert DNA to the precise RNA molecule needed to produce the protein required by the cell. A better understanding of this process may ultimately lead to targeted cancer therapies of increased efficacy and decreased side effects.
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ in the abdomen, below the liver. It collects and stores bile, a fluid made by the liver to aid with digestion of fats. The bile ducts are thin tube-like vessels that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine. 
  
  • Bile duct and gallbladder cancer are rare malignancies but very serious.  
  • Both cancers develop in organs deep in the body, making early detection difficult.   
  • Gall bladder and bile duct cancers are more common in people over the age of 65, with a slightly higher male predilection.  
  • Symptoms of bile duct and gall bladder cancer may include: jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, lumps in the belly (gallbladder cancer). Other patients may be asymptomatic.  
  • Lowering risk of bile duct and gall bladder cancer: maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, diet rich in whole foods, fruits and vegetable, limiting alcohol consumption, hepatitis B vaccination (bile duct cancer). 
  • Treatment may include: surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation or a combination of these options.

Sources: City of Hope, Mount Sinai 
Upcoming Events
March
9
Thursday
6:00 PM
Toronto Revolving Tables Networking Event

ICRF Toronto’s signature Next Generation networking event, Revolving Tables, will take place on Thursday, March 9 at Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto. Over a three-course dinner, attendees will revolve tables and network with a new mentor and young professionals for a unique experience at each course.

March
19
Sunday
7:00 AM
United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

Register with Team ICRF to run the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon on Sunday, March 19. For more information, please contact Alan Herman, National Director of Advancement, alan.herman@icrfonline.org 

May
7
Sunday
7:00 AM
TD Five Boro Bike Tour

Sign up with Team ICRF to cycle the TD Five Boro Bike Tour on Sunday, May 7.  For more information, please contact Alan Herman, National Director of Advancement, alan.herman@icrfonline.org 

June
27
Tuesday

Second Annual ICRF Tri-State Golf Outing

Join ICRF on the green for the second annual Tri-State Golf Outing on Tuesday, June 27 at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, New York. All proceeds will be used to fund our research in Israel. For more information, please contact Alan Herman, National Director of Advancement, alan.herman@icrfonline.org. or David Kweskin, CT Area Director, david.kweskin@icrfonline.org

Chapter Highlights
Connecticut Chapter Names New Chair
Jerry Silber of Stamford and Miami Beach has accepted the position of Connecticut Chapter Chairman, having served as Vice Chairman for the past one and a half years. He succeeds Leslie Freedman, PhD, who will remain active on the Connecticut Executive Committee and the International Board of Trustees. Silber, a founding Connecticut Chapter board member, has a track record of successful charitable fundraising as a multiple-year Chair of March of Dimes for Citibank. Jerry founded People Friendly Stamford, a Stamford, Connecticut, biking and pedestrian safety citywide organization.

When asked about his new role, he said: “ICRF researchers in Israel do more with less funds than their U.S. counterparts and have already unlocked the secrets to some cancers that have resulted in cures which have been recognized by Nobel prizes. I am pleased to follow in the footsteps of Leslie Freedman to raise the funds for more cancer solutions.”
News Roundup
Double the Impact of Your Tax-Deductible Gift
Did you know that you can double the impact of your tax-deductible gift to ICRF by taking a few seconds to check if your employer will match your gift?

This means that your gift + your employer's match can = 2x the impact on groundbreaking cancer research.

Simply visit icrfonline.org/doublethedonation to find out if yours is one of the many employers that participate in these programs.