The Hadassah Cancer Research Center at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, and the pharmaceutical company Merck have just launched a joint collaboration, called CanceRNA, to investigate using messenger RNA technology to treat cancer.

The collaboration, led by Prof. Michal Lotem, head of the Hadassah Cancer Research Center and Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy, and Prof. Rotem Karni, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, will include scientists from research institutes around the world along with researchers from Merck.

According to Prof. Lotem, “Everything started with the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines taught us how powerful messenger RNA can be.” Messenger RNA technology is at the core of both the highly successful Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Prof. Lotem believes messenger RNA, with its high level of stability and low incidence of side effects, could be helpful in developing a drug for cancer.

She continues, “While we all hope that one day we will leave COVID behind, sadly there is no chance that cancer will be behind us any time soon. Therefore, we thought we should take advantage of what we have learned about mRNA and start a collaborative effort to use it to cure cancer.”

Photo caption: Prof. Michal Lotem, head of the Hadassah Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) and Center for Melanoma, Cancer Immunotherapy at Hadassah. (credit: YOAV DUDKEVITCH)


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