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Alberto Gabizon, M.D., Ph.D. developed Doxil, the first drug to use “stealth liposomes” for direct delivery to a tumor site without damaging surrounding tissues.

Dr. Alberto Gabizon immigrated to Israel from Morocco, and is now Chairman of the Oncology Institute at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and Professor of Oncology at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine in Jerusalem. He has been the recipient of several ICRF grants since he started the research that led to Doxil in 1981. He received an ICRF Research Career Development Award in 1989, and has been the recipient of a prestigious ICRF Research Professorship since 2008.

Dr. Gabizon was a major contributor to the discovery and development of Doxil – a compound based on fatty submicroscopic bubbles known as liposomes that are filled with the anticancer agent Doxorubicin. Doxil, is used in the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a form of cancer in AIDS patients. The FDA approved the drug in 1996, and it was on pharmacies’ shelves a year later.

Doxil,” Dr. Gabizon explained, “directs drugs to the diseased tissues only, not to the rest of the patient’s body, and releases them slowly. This greatly reduces the side effects normally associated with chemotherapy. The impact of Doxil on the efficacy and safety of treatment of advanced ovarian and breast cancer is already evident in clinical practice. I am confident that further clinical research will establish the potential of Doxil in the treatment of a variety of other metastatic tumors, which remains so far largely untapped.”

Dr. Gabizon’s current ICRF-supported research work seeks to improve upon the liposomal delivery of anticancer drugs by designing liposomes with special molecular hooks that attach to specific receptors on cancer cells, thus enabling targeted delivery of drugs that would otherwise have great difficulty penetrating cells. These drugs would be rendered ineffective without this particular type of liposome encapsulation. “The targeted liposome approach to cancer cells remains a challenging project with many variables that need to be hammered out before its successful application,” remarked Dr. Gabizon. “It will continue to be the main focus in our laboratory, and the commitment of the ICRF will play a significant role in allowing us to proceed with this long-term project and bring it to fruition.”