The researchers first discovered that multidrug resistant cancer cells frequently produce a large number of lysosomes. Taking advantage of this unique feature of the production of multiple lysosomes and the dramatic irreversible accumulation of certain lipid-soluble drugs bearing light-sensitive properties in these lysosomes, they developed the Pharmacological Trojan Horse that resulted in the destruction of drug resistant cancer cells.
For this groundbreaking research achievement, Professor Yehuda Assaraf, the Dean of the Faculty of Biology, was chosen as the winner of the Hilda and Hershel Rich Innovation and Entrepreneurship award.
This innovative new technology has been registered as an American patent, and has stirred a great deal of interest among major international pharmaceutical companies. Its potential therapeutic approach was published in the journal Cell Death and Disease and received wide coverage in a Spotlight of Cell Press article.
“Cancer cells acquire a wide range of sophisticated mechanisms to overcome cytotoxic drug therapy (i.e. chemotherapy) directed against them,” says Assaraf, who led the team of researchers. “This phenomenon, known as ‘multidrug resistance’ (MDR) often stems from the fact that cancer cells possess an abundance of pump proteins, located in the membrane of cancer cells, that act as efficient pumps which expel a multitude of anticancer drugs from the cancer cells. This is an important mechanism by which malignant tumors become resistant to chemotherapy.”