The Patolsky Group has developed and secured US patents for a blood test that detects the very earliest development of cancer. The test is based on the change in the metabolic activity of cells at exactly that moment when a person turns from being healthy individual to having cancer. Only nanotechnology could make this possible. Cells change their activity when they are stimulated under different conditions, releasing different amounts of chemical metabolites under different circumstances. Fernando has assembled hundreds of electrical nanosensors on a single platform, engineering them to work together to quickly and reliably measure this release function.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there were 12.7 million new cancer cases in 2008 worldwide; and 7.6 million cancer deaths. That is expected to grow to 21.4 million new cancer cases and 13.2 million cancer deaths by 2030.
Today, most cancer researchers believe using the immune system to fight cancer is the Holy Grail that will bring cancer to its knees. Prof. Fernando Patolsky of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University believes that measuring what the immune system is already doing is a faster, easier, smarter, more cost-effective and far-less invasive way to diagnose the disease. Specifically, Prof. Patolsky believes in his coined and patented ImmunoMetaboDiagnostics, which uses a simple blood test to measure the metabolic activity of the immune system to gauge cancer development from its very earliest stages through metastasis.
THE UNIQUE HYPOTHESIS
Where cancer development is considered to be associated with changes in the physiological function of the immune system, those changes might be reflected in different metabolic activity (MA) of the white blood cells. Prof. Patolsky and his group — including researchers Dr. Reuven Tirosh and PhD candidate Hagit Peretz-Soroka — believe that in the healthy state or homeostasis, the immune system, as part of its normal function, is responsible for ongoing early detection and effective eradication of cancer cells. A healthy and effective immune response would necessarily be very controlled to avoid damaging normal cells.
THE NOVEL APPROACH
The Patolsky Group developed and secured U.S. patents for a blood test capable of revealing extremely sensitive measurements that indicate the very earliest development of cancer. The test is based on the change in the metabolic activity of cells in healthy individuals into those present in cancer patients. This metabolic switch can be detected and classified within seconds of the change from a healthy person to a cancer patient.
Why has this seemingly simple immunological approach never been investigated before? "Science is sometimes more about the heart and feelings when you are looking for groundbreaking discoveries to overcome challenges. We believed that this novel approach would make the difference. The main question was how to understand such a complex system and not to give up before we even started. People didn't believe the responses we're now measuring could be directly related to cancer ... simply because there areso many different kinds of them."
PROOF OF CONCEPT
Clinical experiments of two groups, composed of 152 healthy blood donors and 105 cancer patients, were examined using this simple MA test. Healthy individuals revealed similar MA profiles despite differences in age and gender; cancer patients revealed strikingly different metabolic activity than healthy donors.
There was a 100% accuracy rate, including one case of thyroid cancer and one case of breast cancer that had not been previously diagnosed by physicians. Prof. Patolsky also examined donor blood for other diseases: lupus, inflammation and flu, where he also got different MA profiles. Today, he can differentiate between healthy individuals, cancer patients and individuals suffering from a host of other diseases.
Prof. Fernando Patolsky, PhD, MD, was born in Argentina, immigrated to Israel in 1990, earned his PhD in chemistry at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and did his postdoctoral studies at Harvard University, before coming to Tel Aviv University in 2006. At Harvard, Prof. Patolsky was a member of the world-renowned group of Prof. Charles Lieber, working in the field of Nanobiotechnology.
"I was deeply involved in pioneering research in the field of nanomedicine, where we made seminal advances at the interface between nanoelectronics and biological systems. We took the whole field to unprecedented levels with the demonstration of selective electrical sensing of individual viruses and ultrasensitive and multiplexed detection of cancer-marker proteins and the activity of tumor-related enzymes. In just three years, we published eight papers in the field's most prestigious journals, including Science, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS and Nature Protocols."
Prof. Patolsky has published 60+ papers in peer-reviewed journals, has 13 submitted patents, and is the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Nanobiotechnology.