Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Small Jewish Company to Make Cancer Diagnosis Simple & Save Millions of Lives


Imagine for a moment if all the arabs in Gaza were to turn their creative energies toward growth and life, and away from destruction and death.

Imagine if they had taken the millions of dollars they were given by the world community to educate, nurture, and encourage life-giving technologies and had not used it to sustain terrorism, to nurture hate, and to encourage new weapons technology.

One could say, "They need to protect themselves from oppression and hunger and poverty!" But Israel needs to protect itself constantly, and most of the Jews in Israel have experienced oppression and hunger and poverty first-hand in every nation possible. Yet, Jews continue to work for life. We continue to create beauty and opportunity and beneficial technology.

Perhaps it is because our religion is one that glorifies life and justice.

It is too bad that so many Moslems have chosen to glorify death and hate instead.

Here is a company that, with only five employees, may save millions of lives a year: a Jewish company, an Israeli company.

The difference between life and death, between cancer and health, is a small but significant difference.

Red for Cancer, Green for Normal
by Gil Ronen

( It's simple. In the new cancer test kit developed by Zetiq Technologies, if the cells in a tissue test stain green, they are normal. If they stain red they are cancerous. Dr. Adi Elkeles, CEO of Zetiq, called the test "a very simple discrimination that can be analyzed even by a layman."

"There is a huge need for simple tools that can screen and diagnose all types of cancer," he added. "Early detection can make all the difference between life and death. Hundreds of millions of people will need this technology. It offers a major breakthrough in the field of cancer diagnostics."

The new technology – dubbed CellDetect – uses a metabolic signature, developed using clinical tissue samples, to distinguish between normal and malignant cells.

This is crucial because a large cell population will often contain only a very small number of malignant cells. Using traditional diagnostic techniques these cells are often undetected because they are so scarce in number, or because the distinction between the cells and the background is so minor.

Just five people
The test that could save millions of lives was developed by a company that employs only five people.

Using CellDetect, the difference between malignant and normal cells is clear. "It's like moving from a black and white TV to color," said Ami Eyal, the CEO of parent company Bio-Light Life Science Investments. "We bring a visualization tool into the field that will revolutionize the way people do diagnosis based on looking at cells. You can't miss the cells, they are red."

Another advantage over traditional tests and biopsies, said Elkeles, is the fact that the test can be used to detect a wide range of different cancers, something he claims no other diagnostic tool can do. In addition, it can be used for drug development. "This has great clinical and business value," he told ISRAEL21c.

The test that could save millions of lives was developed by a company that employs only five people, and outsources the rest of its work in Israel and abroad. "We don't need a big infrastructure," explained Elkeles.

Tailoring tests
The company's first application for this platform technology is a diagnostic tool for cervical cancer. About 10,000 women are diagnosed with this disease in the US every year, and about 3,700 women die of it, according to statistics from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

"Our technology can stain most, if not all, cancer cells."
Aside from this, the company is working on diagnostic tools for other types of cancer. "Our technology can stain most, if not all, cancer cells," says Elkeles. "We can tailor the right test for different types of cancer."

CellDetect has proven successful in pre-clinical trials. Further clinical trials will begin later this year, though Elkeles declined to give details.

Good for drug scientists too
The company also plans to develop the technology for scientists working in research and drug discovery. For drug discovery purposes, the metabolic signature can be used to detect whether a chemical or biological compound has changed the phenotype of cell lines from cancerous to normal, or vice versa.

Zetiq, which is headquartered in Ramat Gan, was founded six years ago and is based on research by Israeli scientists. The company is now a fully owned subsidiary of Bio-light, a management and holding company specializing in biomedical technologies.

Bio-Light, a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange company, has three other biotech companies in its portfolio - OBEcure, allergica and IOPtima

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