Miki is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of medicine at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and the Director of the Research Laboratories at the Carmel Medical Center. Her Immunotherapy lab is located at the old building of the Carmel Medical Center. Miki received her B.A. (1985) and M.Sc. (1988) from the department of Biology at the Technion, and her D.Sc. (1992) from the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion. She then joined the Carmel Medical Center and did her postdoctoral fellowship at the Immunology Research Unit and the department of Internal Medicine A, in a joint effort to understand how ischemia and reperfusion cause an extensive immune response which is regulated by macrophages. In the following years she focused on understanding how ischemia and hypoxia affect macrophage behavior, discovering that hypoxia can affect macrophages not only at the transcriptional level (by inducing HIF-1 activity), but also at the post-transcriptional and post-translational levels, by regulating protein trafficking, secretion and activity. Since 2010, Miki is focusing on angiogenesis in inflammation, trying to understand how macrophages enhance angiogenesis through their interactions with both tumor cells (in cancer) and epithelial cells (in autoimmune diseases). One of the key proteins that mediates interactions between macrophages and other immune cells is CD147/EMMPRIN, which can induce VEGF and MMPs, but is also implicated in processes such as metastasis (specifically EMT and proliferation) and recruitment of immune cells. Miki has developed two immunotherapeutic approaches that target EMMPRIN, a passive approach that uses an antibody against a specific epitope, and an active approach that vaccinates against the same epitope using a modified peptide. These two approaches resulted in tumor size reduction or even regression, inhibition of angiogenesis and reduction of metastases, and the active vaccine also prevented tumor recurrence. Recently, she showed that some of these effects are caused by the ability of the antibody and complement factors to kill tumor cells by necroptosis, a special form of cell death, that shifted macrophage polarization from an M2-like to an M1-like activation resulting in tumor cell eradication and alleviation of the immune suppression that characterize the tumor microenvironment. For her work Miki has received the Hershel Rich Technion Innovation Award (2019).
Miki Rahat, D.Sc.
Associate Professor, department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Technion
Director, Research Laboratories and the Immunotherapy lab, Carmel Medical Center