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Cancer develops in multiple stages, each of which presents an opportunity to attack the disease and block its progress. Prof. Yosef Yarden of the Weizmann Institute’s Biological Regulation Department studies various stages of the cancerous process, and insights arising from his research offer great hope to physicians and patients alike.
The cancerous process can start when a growth factor molecule attaches to a receptor on the cell membrane. Yarden discovered that a certain receptor acts as an “amplifier” that augments the growth factor signal, which in turn speeds up cell division. Drugs and therapies intended to prevent this amplification might block the disease in its early stages.
Healthy cells have a system of “brakes” that avert uncontrolled cell division and proliferation. When this system doesn’t function properly, excessive, cancerous cell division can occur. A multidisciplinary team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute and other research institutions, headed by Yarden, discovered several genes that control the cellular “brakes.” This discovery could in the future help develop genetic approaches to treating cancer.
Cancer’s most destructive and devastating stage occurs when the initial tumor starts to spread and produce metastases. Yarden and his colleagues have revealed new details of the molecular mechanism responsible for the migration of cancerous cells. These discoveries might provide the basis for the development of methods to thwart metastatic spread.
“I was born in the Galilee, shortly after my parents immigrated to Israel. I served in the paratroopers brigade for five years and commanded soldiers under fire. I believe that living in Israel is an achievement worth fighting for. The Weizmann Institute stimulates us to endlessly expand the frontiers of our knowledge, for the benefit of
“I chose to be photographed in the hills of the Lower Galilee, against the background of the Jezreel Valley. I grew up in
Upper Nazareth and could see the valley from the window of my house; that’s the scenery of my childhood.”
Prof. Yosef Yarden’s research is supported by the Goldhirsh Foundation. Prof. Yarden is the incumbent of the Harold and Zelda Goldenberg Professorial Chair in Molecular Cell Biology.