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Hebrew University researcher wins prize for work leading to new anti-cancer drugs

A young Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher has taken a significant step forward towards development of drugs that will be capable of repairing and "turning off" those elements that spur uncontrolled growth of cancerous tumors. This approach will eventually prove much less harmful and more effective than current chemotherapy treatment, which kills not only harmful but also healthy cells.

For his work, Mickey Kosloff -- who this year received his Ph.D. in biological chemistry at the university's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences -- is the recipient of one of this year's Kaye Innovation Awards, to be presented on May 27 at the university's 66th Board of Governors meeting. This is the tenth anniversary year for the awards.

Kosloff has analyzed the workings of the Ras protein that is found in all cells of the body. Mutant, defective Ras is involved in up to 30% of human cancers. In healthy tissue, Ras is a master switch controlling cell division and proliferation. It cycles between an "off" state that stops cell division, and an "on" state that drives cell division.

What occurs in the mutant Ras is that it loses its inherent enzymatic activity that enables it to be "turned off." The switch therefore remains stuck in the active ("on") state, thus driving the uncontrolled proliferation of "wild" cancer cells.

What Kosloff and other members of the research team headed by Kosloff's supervisor, Prof. Zvi Selinger, have done is to study G-proteins (and in particular the Ras protein within that group) to discover exactly what goes wrong with oncogenic, damaged Ras. Through combining intensive computational analysis of these proteins with an experimental methodology they called "substrate assisted catalysis," they were able to understand how the normal G-proteins turn themselves off and what goes wrong in the abnormal Ras. Importantly, they were also able to demonstrate that normal enzymatic activity can be restored t
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
22-May-2003


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