Prof. Izhak Haviv joined Bar-Ilan in 2012 from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Australia. There he became a leading exponent of personalized medicine and translational research. Today he is continuing that work at the School of Medicine in Safed developing ways to tailor each cancer patient’s chemotherapy treatment to his or her unique genetic make-up in order to optimally support his or her body in the fight against the disease.
In 2013, Haviv partnered in the treatment of thirty-two patients. This work was then represented in seven peer-reviewed papers published and four more in editorial review. With six outstanding PhD students working in his lab, his team can recruit about twenty patients each month.
In addition to his work with cancer, Haviv and his team are using other personalized medicine methods to understand and defeat “wasting syndrome” (cachexia), which may be responsible for a third of cancer-related deaths. They are also using genetic techniques to unravel certain mysteries of tongue cancer. This work may have wide ranging applications to other cancers.
Prof. Haviv is developing new individualized treatment methods to help cancer patients in Israel and around the world.
Annual Activity Report, March 2017
Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a rare malignancy most commonly appearing in HIV carriers. In addition to HIV carriers, there are rare families with a genetic predisposition for KS. Some of these are of Jewish descent from Morocco. Professor Moshe Schaffer identified a few such families in his service as oncologist at the Poriya Medical Centre, Tiberias. In collaboration with the Dangoor Centre for Personalized Medicine, we performed whole exome sequencing of eight individuals from two such high-risk families, to identify the gene(s) and variant(s) responsible for this association. Our research revealed three candidate KS-causing alleles, and we are continuing to use genomic sequencing and clinical trials to confirm these correlations.
“There is something very Jewish about implementing high-throughput technologies into medical management. Jews have always resorted to creativity over brute force. In the 1970s, population-based screens to detect carriers of Tay-Sachs disease and sickle cell disease identified couples who had a 25% chance of passing either disorder to their offspring, enabling them to make informed reproductive decisions. But this achievement was obtained by an enormous amount of research hours in the lab. Today, using genomic technology and next-generation sequencing, we can shed light on the mechanisms of inheritance with remarkably light effort.” Izhak Haviv, describing the link between the Dangoor family and personalized medicine.