JUNE 2021
ICRF-Funded Researcher Reveals
Brain Cancer Breakthrough
Professor Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, an ICRF Research Professorship recipient, is attracting international headlines together with her team at Tel Aviv University for their groundbreaking study on brain tumors in mice.

Her research team modified hundreds of mice to give them glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer that has a 40 percent survival rate after a year and 5 percent after five years. All the mice developed brain tumors and died within weeks, unless they were administered a chemical compound to block production of P-selectin protein, which is found in large quantities when a tumor is present. The mice that were given the blocker recovered and survived. The blockers have already been developed for treating other conditions.

In a recent article in the peer-reviewed Nature Communications journal, Professor Satchi-Fainaro expressed her hopes that human trials would be initiated soon. “It is paving the way for a new therapy for a disease that hasn’t had anything new in terms of treatment over the last decade," she noted. "Glioblastoma patients need new treatments immediately. Our treatment may be the needed breakthrough in the battle against the most daunting cancer of all," she added.

Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro
(Credit: Eric Sultan)
Cancer Awareness Month

June is Cancer Immunotherapy Month and National Cancer Survivors Month
ICRF Tackles Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses substances made by the body, or in a laboratory, to improve how the immune system works to find and destroy cancer cells. Cancer can often get around many of the immune system’s natural defenses, allowing cancer cells to continue to grow.

Different types of immunotherapy work in various ways. Some immunotherapy treatments help the immune system stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Others help the immune system to destroy cancer cells or stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Immunotherapy treatments can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments.

To commemorate Cancer Immunotherapy Month, meet two of our ICRF-sponsored scientists conducting important research in this field: 
Facts about Immunotherapy treatments

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that block immune checkpoints.
  • T-cell transfer therapy is a treatment that boosts the natural ability of T cells to fight cancer.
  • Monoclonol antibodies are immune system proteins created in the lab and designed to bind to specific targets on cancer cells.
  • Treatment vaccines
  • Immune system modulators enhance the body’s immune response against cancer.

Sources: Cancer. Net, National Cancer Institute
Michael Berger, PhD, of Hebrew University, is the recipient of “The Peter Stambrook Award in Cancer Medicine,” a Project Grant dedicated in Peter’s memory. CAR-T cell immunotherapy is a treatment based on introducing laboratory-engineered,
killer T cells into a cancer patient so that the strengthened T cells are able to find and destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, such treatments often fail because tumor cells consume glucose and oxygen so rapidly that they deprive these killer T cells of key nutrients. The Berger lab is developing a technology that will allow T cells to use trehalose, instead of glucose, as an energy source, thus providing them with the ability to overcome the shortage of nutrients in the tumor microenvironment, while helping to maintain their cancer-fighting effectiveness.
Prof. Michael Berger
Rotem Rubinstein, PhD, of Tel Aviv University, is the recipient of an ICRF Research Career Development Award (RCDA). Checkpoint inhibitors block the ability of cancer cells to stop the immune system from activating and, in turn, amplify the body’s immune system to help destroy cancer cells. However, these drugs only produce long-term responses in a small group of patients. The Rubinstein lab is studying VISTA, a recently identified, novel, checkpoint inhibitor. They are examining the structure and the molecular events that govern its function, with the ultimate goal of being able to design improved treatment strategies.
Prof. Rotem Rubinstein

National Cancer Survivor Month: Spotlight on Sam Fields
To honor cancer survivors, ICRF chatted with survivor and Chicago Chapter Board Member Sam Fields.

Can you share with us how you felt when you received your diagnosis?  
I had just signed a contract with an NHL team and was playing pro hockey, I was living the dream I’d had since childhood. When I learned of my diagnosis I was in complete shock and disbelief. It was the worst possible time in my life.
How did you react when you heard about this potential life-saving treatment? 
My parents were the ones to give their consent to try Gleevec. I was not in a situation to do that. They knew my options were - die fighting, or die without the fight. Of course, I chose to fight. I received Gleevec, a chemo drug that was the result of research by ICRF-funded scientist, Dr. Eli Canaani and American scientist, Dr. Robert Gale. At that time, it was the only option that could possibly save me until I could receive a stem cell transplant. Thankfully, my sister was a “6 to 6” perfect match. 
Are you still on this protocol? How long has it been?
October 1 will be 18 years! I often find it hard to believe that I was given another chance to live. I owe everything to so many people - my sister, my doctor and his team who administered Gleevec, and ICRF with their outstanding scientists and research.
Can you describe your life now?  
I can’t say it’s perfect; I deal with anxiety, and the fear of not knowing what's going to happen tomorrow. But I do appreciate every day. I'm very close with my parents and I work with my father in his insurance company. I was coaching hockey for kids under 15 but lately, I’ve been devoting more time to the business. One of my pleasures is consulting with parents on the direction their children should pursue in hockey.
What does ICRF mean to you? 
There is no doubt in my mind that ICRF saved my life. It’s daunting to realize this but it’s the absolute truth. They do God's work.
There is no doubt in my mind that ICRF saved my life.
Sam Fields
ICRF Remembers Dr. Bella Kaufman, Eminent Breast Cancer Researcher
The ICRF family mourns the recent loss of Dr. Bella Kaufman, a renowned leader in breast cancer research and treatment. Dr. Kaufman received an ICRF Project Grant from 2014-2016 and an ICRF Acceleration Grant from 2017-2019.

Respected and loved by all who knew her, Dr. Kaufman served as Director of the Breast Oncology Institute and President of Sheba Comprehensive Cancer Center at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. In addition, she founded and led the Israeli Consortium for Hereditary Breast Cancer, serving as an investigator in many clinical trials related to BRCA research. An author of more than 125 papers and presenter at myriad global scientific meetings, Dr. Kaufman was recently awarded the distinguished 2020 Basser Global Prize for her groundbreaking BRCA1/2-related research. Dr. Kaufman will also be remembered for her efforts to provide patient care to underserved communities.  

Dr. Kaufman's collaborator, Dr. Maya Dadiani, Senior Researcher at Sheba Medical Center, remembers her fondly: "Beyond being an extraordinary physician, with exceptional sensitivity and compassion, Bella has always been dedicated to advance breast cancer research. In addition to her significant achievements in clinical research, she has initiated the establishment of a translational research laboratory. It was very important for her to advance the research team and to promote a constant dialogue between the clinicians and the scientists in the unit. For me, it was a privilege to lead the translational research laboratory together with Bella and to be inspired by her determined dedication to breast cancer research."
Dr. Bella Kaufman
Lior Lapid Named ICRF-Israel
Executive Director
For close to two decades, Lior Lapid, ICRF Israel’s new Executive Director, has been managing nonprofits in Israel. He registered his first nonprofit when he was only 16, managed several other organizations and served as an advisor to the late Israeli President Shimon Peres. Lior holds a Law degree and a Master’s in Public Policy, both from Tel Aviv University, as well as post-graduate education at Stanford University. He is married to Dana and recently returned from paternity leave with their daughter, Dori.

“In my previous position I led one of Israel’s ten largest nonprofits. I am joining ICRF with the hope and belief that soon ICRF will also join that top-ten list. I had such a warm welcome from the entire ICRF global team, and I can’t wait to join forces and take ICRF to the next level," Lapid said.
Lior Lapid
2021 Ribbons of Hope Virtual Gala
Please save the date to join us for the second ICRF Ribbons of Hope Virtual Gala hosted by comedian and actor Richard Kind.
News Roundup