New Israeli cancer ‘directory’ will help doctors choose right immunotherapy

Data platform will allow doctors worldwide to input data from biopsies; research team has already identified best treatment for 7% of melanoma cases

Nathan Jeffay is The Times of Israel's health and science correspondent

Illustrative: A cancer patient. (Ridofranz via iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: A cancer patient. (Ridofranz via iStock by Getty Images)

Israeli scientists say they have found a way to match cancer patients with the right immunotherapy more effectively.

A new data platform will allow doctors worldwide to input data from biopsies, and receive information on the best-matching immunotherapy for particular patients.

Scientists led by Prof. Yardena Samuels of the Weizmann Institute of Science conducted in-depth analysis to identify cancer hotspots — common groups of cancer mutations that are presented on the surface of cancer cells.

They have started creating a directory that matches hotspots to the most effective immunotherapy, and documented their progress in a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

They hope that after further development and clinical testing, doctors around the world will be able to access the directory from their computers, and use it to select the best immunotherapy.

Samuels told The Times of Israel that, in a proof of concept, the team has already identified the best immunotherapy for seven percent of melanoma cases, and is now working on matching many other hotspots.

Illustrative: A cancer patient receives immunotherapy. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

“We know what mutations a patient has from their biopsy, but that doesn’t necessarily tell us now what immunotherapy to use,” said Samuels. “But with this new bio-informatics pipeline, the hope is that soon after patients come in, we will be able to select the proper immunotherapy right off-the-shelf to suit their precise cancer. In short, this should enable a far wider use of personalized medicine.”

The study involved a large group of scientists from Israel and abroad. Israeli scholars included Dr. Tamir Dingjan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Eilon Barnea and Prof. Arie Admon of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Prof. Cyrille Cohen of Bar Ilan University.

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