Despite settlement row, EU to fund research into cancer treatment

Dr. Rahel Katz-Brill of Hadassah is conducting experiments on a non-radioactive substance that can detect cancer.

Cancer patient receiving chemotherapy 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Cancer patient receiving chemotherapy 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Just days after the European Union raised a storm by refusing to fund Israeli research projects if scientists have connections beyond the Green Line, the EU awarded a huge grant to a researcher at Hadassah University Medical Center at Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. She will receive 1,650,000 euros to conduct her research.
The aim of the research, to be headed by Dr. Rahel Katz-Brill of the hospital’s imaging department, is to conduct pre-clinical experiments to prove the efficacy of a non-radioactive “hyperpolar substance” for use in patients with cancer and brain diseases that she and her colleagues have discovered. Described by Hadassah as “a breakthrough,” the team’s work focuses on developing molecular markers for medical imaging (with MRIs).
Until now, using a positron-emission tomography (PET) scanner, the team diagnoses types of cancers and the dispersal of cancerous cells. They also utilize it to diagnose neurological conditions such as epilepsy. But Katz-Brill developed a non-radioactive substance that can be used during MRI scans. As doctors try to avoid using radioactive substances for this purpose because it can have harmful side effects, a non-radioactive substance has been sought.
If the Hadassah researcher proves in her EU-funded research that her substance is effective, it could be used on children, pregnant women and others who should avoid exposure to radioactive substances. No one else anywhere in the world has developed such a material. The European Research Council of the EU is covering the cost of the study, which requires the purchase of expensive equipment and hiring new researchers.
If the research is successful, clinical studies (with patients) could follow, Hadassah said.