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A new radiation treatment from a Jerusalem-based firm injects cancer-killing “alpha-particles” into places that previous treatments couldn’t reach.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

An Israeli company that is developing a breakthrough radiation cancer therapy got a huge boost with a $26 million investment to bring it closer to getting the new treatment to market.

Jerusalem-based Alpha Tau Medical recently completed successful human clinical trials of its “Alpha DaRT” system on cancer patients from Italy and Israel, with the impressive results getting great feedback after being published in leading medical journals.

Alpha Tau is now conducting clinical trials across the world, including its first US trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, a pancreatic cancer trial in Montreal and trials at three academic institutions in Japan.

The $26 million is a huge shot in the arm to establish new global manufacturing facilities both in Israel and abroad.

How Does It Work?

Radioactive “alpha particles” are known to be highly lethal to cancerous cells and only a few hits from radioactive particles to the cell nucleus are required to kill the cancerous cell. The problem with alpha particles is that they don’t travel deep enough into the body to treat tumors.

Alpha Tau developed a method to take a radioactive source, put it into the tip of their Alpha DaRT, then insert the device containing radioactive Radium-224 atoms into the tumor. The Radium-224 releases its short-lived alpha-emitting atoms into the tumor with a range of only a few millimeters, delivering a high dose of radiation inside the tumor.

The investment “will enable us to push forward our mission to help cancer patients across the world, even during these challenging times in which COVID-19 is the focus of everyone’s health concerns,” said CEO Uzi Sofer.

Alpha Tau said the coronavirus pandemic put added focus on their new treatment, because cancer patients infected with COVID-19 face unique risks because chemo cancer treatments are known to suppress the immune system.

“The Alpha DaRT cancer treatment does not suppress the immune system, and is uniquely suited for this time of pandemic,” the company said.

“We have been very fortunate to continue our progress at full speed across all fronts, including clinical and operations, and now financing as well, even during a period of global turmoil,” commented CFO Raphi Levy, who said there was strong interest in the Alpha DaRT trials “from clinicians, patients, and investors who recognize the advantages of a focused and highly potent cancer therapy.”

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