TAU Podcast: Meet the professor who may have developed cancer-destroying tech

Featuring Tel Aviv University International and TAU’s most prominent researchers

NEW Tel Aviv University podcast –Episode #1: How to Translate Medicine?

Watch Live! Wednesday, December 14   • 5 pm Israel Time|10 am EST

First episode featuring Prof. Dan Peer - Global Pioneer in the development of RNA-based therapeutic delivery

Hosted by Ido Aharoni Aronoff, Israel’s former consul-general in New York

On the first episode of TAU Unbound, Prof. Dan Peer discusses issues such as nano-technology, COVID-19, and translational medicine on Tel Aviv University’s new Podcast series, TAU Unbound.

Prof. Peer was the first researcher in the world to prove that the CRISPR genome editing system could be used to treat aggressive metastatic cancer. The researchers at Prof. Peer’s lab developed a novel technology – a lipid nanoparticle-based delivery system that specifically targets cancer cells and destroys them by genetic manipulation. The system, called CRISPR-LNPs, carries a genetic messenger (messenger RNA), which encodes for the CRISPR enzyme Cas9 that acts as molecular scissors that cut the cells’ DNA. 

The results of the groundbreaking study, funded by ICRF (Israel Cancer Research Fund), were published in November 2020 in the Science Advances scientific journal. To examine the feasibility of using the technology to treat cancer, Prof. Peer and his team chose two of the deadliest cancers:  glioblastoma and metastatic ovarian cancer. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer, with a life expectancy of 15 months since diagnosis and a five-year survival rate of only 3%.  The researchers demonstrated that a single treatment with CRISPR-LNPs doubled the average life expectancy of mice with glioblastoma tumors, improving their overall survival rate by about 30%. Ovarian cancer is a major cause of death among women and the most lethal cancer of the female reproductive system. Most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease when metastases have already spread throughout the body.  Despite progress in recent years, only a third of the patients survive this disease. Treatment with CRISPR-LNPs in a metastatic ovarian cancer mice model increased their overall survival rate by 80%. 

By demonstrating its potential in treating two aggressive cancers, the technology opens numerous new possibilities for treating other types of cancer, as well as rare genetic diseases and chronic viral diseases such as AIDS.

Prof. Dan Peer is Tel Aviv University’s Vice President for Research and Development, head of the Center for Translational Medicine, and a member of both the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.