Starving cells of oxygen can help them kill cancers, Israeli researchers find

Starving cells of oxygen can help them kill cancers, Israeli researchers findAdd subheading

Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have developed a method to reinforce the power of cells that kill cancerous tumors by starving them of oxygen, allowing immunotherapy treatments to be used in targeting previously immune solid tumors.

The research was published in the journal Cell Reports. In the article, the researchers liken the new, toughened cells to athletes who train in high altitudes, where the percentage of oxygen in the air is lower.

The technique is based on removing cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) from the body and then breeding them in a lab, after which they are reintroduced into a patient’s blood stream. The CTLs, known also as killer T cells, are cells in charge of destroying damaged cells, cancer cells, and cells infected with viruses or other pathogens.

In this immunofluorescence image, a group of killer T cells (outer three) is engaging a cancer cell (centered one). A patch of signaling molecules (pink) that gathers at the site of cell-cell contact indicates that the CTL has identified a target. Lytic granules (red) that contain cytotoxic components then travel along the microtubule cytoskeleton (green) to the contact site and are secreted, thus killing the target. (The National Institutes of Health / Wikipedia)

Quoted on Wednesday by Medical News Today, senior Weizmann Institute researcher Guy Shakhar compared the oxygen-starved killer T cells to mountaineers who gradually get used to lower oxygen levels. “Just as altitude training increases endurance in humans, so putting killer T cells through a ‘fitness regimen’ apparently toughens them up,” he explained.

“Killer T cells are the foot soldiers of cancer immunotherapy, they are the ones to target and destroy cancerous cells, but they don’t always manage to eliminate the malignancy,” Shakhar said. “We’ve shown that by growing these T cells in an oxygen-poor environment, we can turn them into more effective killers.”

Until now, treatment using T cells, known as cancer immunotherapy, has so far been only efficient in treating leukemias and lymphomas.

When tackling solid tumors, the method has so far proven ineffective, since these tumors typically have a very low percentage of oxygen – about 5 percent – far lower than the conditions under which the T cells are grown in labs (typically 20%).

An experiment by Shakhar’s and his team has shown the low-oxygen T-cells, or hypoxic CTLs, to have a higher success rate in controlling tumors introduced in laboratory mice. A control group included mice not injected with any T cells.

Read More: Times of Israel


IDF emergency team arrives to help quake-stricken Mexico


An IDF emergency team from the Home Front Command arrived Thursday in Mexico, where they will begin providing assistance after the Central American nation was hit by a powerful earthquake that has killed at least 245 people.

The death toll rose after Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said the number of confirmed dead in the capital had risen from 100 to 115. An earlier federal government statement had put the overall toll at 230, including 100 deaths in Mexico City.

On Thursday, Mexican teams were still working frantically to rescue people trapped under several buildings that collapsed. Some of the IDF team would be helping with search and rescue operations, the army said.

The Israeli delegation was made up of 71 soldiers and officers who had already begun providing assistance, an army spokesperson said, but could not yet provide details on their activities.

Walla news reported that two rescue teams were at work looking for survivors in collapsed buildings.

Earlier, the army said that apart from a small search and rescue team, the delegation was made up mostly of engineers who will help assess the structural integrity of buildings in Mexico City and other affected areas. There is no field hospital, however the army has said this could be added in the future.

Late Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Mexico had asked Israel for aid after Netanyahu offered help.

“Netanyahu ordered that aid and a search and rescue operation be organized to leave to Mexico as soon as possible,” his office said.

Read More: Times of Israel

Israel sends aid to Mexico after devastating earthquake


The Israel Defense Forces Search and Rescue Unit and two other Israeli aid agencies have sent emergency response teams to Mexico in the wake of a deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 200, flattened buildings, and extensively damaged infrastructure.

The earthquake, which struck 140 kilometers south-east of Mexico City, caused substantial damage. It comes just two weeks after a deadly earthquake hit the country, and is the most powerful to strike Mexico since 1985.

Israel received a request for assistance from Mexico following the severe earthquake on Tuesday night, and in response a 50 member team of the IDF Search and Rescue Unit departed earlier this afternoon with a planeload of equipment.

Israeli nonprofit aid organization IsraAID will also send an emergency response team to Mexico, with psycho-social, water, sanitation and hygiene specialists.

Volunteers from ZAKA Mexico, which was established recently with the advice of Israel’s ZAKA International Rescue Unit, were also rushed the area to offer search, rescue and recovery assistance.

“The tremor was extremely significant and close to Mexico City, so many people have been affected, “ said Voni Glick, co-CEO of IsraAID.

“Earthquakes are terrifying for anyone in the vicinity, and with shelters filling up, we are sending a team to provide psychosocial post-trauma support and help more remote communities with water, hygiene and sanitation solutions.”

New Jersey fails to enforce anti-BDS law with Danish bank


The State of New Jersey has come under fire for allegedly not punishing a giant Danish bank that engages in anti-Israel economic activity.

Danske Bank, the largest bank in the Scandinavian country, is blacklisted by New York State for violating its anti-BDS law shielding Israel from economic warfare. An intense row over whether Danske – a financial institution that seeks to aid its clients in Iran – is in violation of New Jersey’s 2016 anti-BDS law unfolded in August.
Marc Greendorfer, an attorney and founder of the Zachor Legal Institute, told The Jerusalem Post by email this week that New Jersey “has investments in Danske Bank, but the state refuses to divest from Danske even though under the New Jersey law, there is no question that Danske qualifies as a company that is boycotting Israel (and is thus subject to divestiture by the state).”

The Zachor Legal Institute is a legal think tank and advocacy organization that combats BDS.

Danske, with a customer base of over 3.5 million, blacklisted two Israeli defense companies – Aryt Industries and Elbit Systems – from its customers’ investments.

A nine-page, unpublished report from a private research organization on the bank’s investment policies and relations with Israel concluded that “Danske was never legally required to divest from any Israeli company… Dankse’s alignment with a specific political agenda concerning Israel reveals Danske’s intentions to penalize the State of Israel to create an environment of political duress to influence Israeli state policy.”

Critics assert that Christopher McDonough, the director of the Division of Investment with New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury, has not enforced the anti-BDS law and permitted a former Swedish-owned company, ISS-Ethix, a provider of corporate governance services with a long-standing bias against Israel, to insulate Danske from punitive measures.

Read More: J Post