Health News – NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle. Thu, 20 Oct 2016 07:52:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pregnant and Exhausted? Don’t Ignore The Symptoms. You Could Have Gestational Sleep Apnea Thu, 20 Oct 2016 07:52:14 +0000

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Pregnant and tired? Don’t brush it off as just another symptom of pregnancy. You could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

One in every four pregnant women may suffer from OSA, the recurrent cessation or limitation of normal breathing during sleep. In addition to its being the cause of daytime fatigue, the consequences of untreated OSA include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and heart disease.

SEE ALSO: Excess Weight During Pregnancy Affects Children’s Health


Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea, and is caused by complete or partial obstructions of the upper airway.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this potentially serious condition has several possible treatments: Using a device that keeps your airway open while you sleep; a mouthpiece to thrust your jaw forward during sleep; and, in more severe cases, surgery – which involves removing and repositioning excess tissue in the throat to make the airway wider.

In non-pregnant adults, protocols have been proposed for OSA screening, diagnosis and therapy; however, in pregnant women OSA is not typically diagnosed, is left untreated, and not fully appreciated as a risk factor for negative outcomes for mother and baby.

SEE ALSO: Viral Infection During Pregnancy Can Trigger Diabetes In Babies, Study Finds

In an article recently published in the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia, sleep researchers from Israel and the US recommend a new diagnosis, called “gestational sleep apnea” (GSA). This would allow health professionals to properly describe, diagnose and treat OSA in pregnant women, and would parallel other established transient diagnoses of pregnancy, like gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes.

“Currently, there is a lack of uniform criteria to diagnose, treat and classify OSA in the pregnant population, which in turn complicates efforts to determine the risk factors for, and complications of, gestational sleep apnea,” Prof. Yehuda Ginosar of the Hebrew University and Washington University said in a statement.

In terms of diagnosis, doctors and patients may attribute daytime tiredness to “just being pregnant,” rather than to sleep apnea. In terms of treatment, some physicians and patients might consider the disease too temporary to warrant a referral to a sleep-certified physician, which usually requires an overnight sleep study for diagnosis.

The pregnant woman in summer on grass

The researchers argue that establishing a specific diagnosis of gestational sleep apnea will require further investigation to determine criteria and therapies. But, like in the case of other gestational diseases, it will allow for more targeted surveillance of maternal and fetal outcomes, and facilitate epidemiologic research to monitor the course of the condition from its genesis.

“The time has come for our profession to wake up to the diagnosis of gestational sleep apnea,” said co-author Dr. Suzanne Karan of the University of Rochester. “This will allow us to research obstructive sleep apnea in pregnant women more effectively, and to develop and implement more effective treatments.”

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Israeli Researchers Discover Why Cancer Recurs – And Fight Back Wed, 19 Oct 2016 04:00:56 +0000

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Even with today’s safer and more targeted anti-cancer drugs, scientists have been unable to satisfactorily explain the phenomenon of why treated cancers so often recur. The common theory is that the cancer cell develops internal resistance to treatment, and overrides the toxic effects of the drug.

Now, a team of Israeli scientists provide the key for reducing recurrence, allowing anti-cancer drugs to do work as intended.

SEE ALSO: This Company Invented A Machine Algorithm That Diagnoses Breast Cancer Earlier

Health News: New Israeli Treatment Offers Hope For Cancer Patients

Led by Prof. Yuval Shaked of the Technion-Israel Institute, the study shows that tumor relapse occurs when the body, in effect, mobilizes itself in favor of the tumor, causing recurrence of the disease, increasing its aggressiveness and creating metastases (tumor spread). Even selective, highly focused treatments that almost exclusively harm cancer cells lead to a similar response.

“The administration of an anti-cancer drug is very aggressive intervention in the body,” Shaked said in a statement. “Therefore, the body responds to chemotherapy the way it responds to trauma. This creates the effect of a double-edged sword: although chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it also causes the secretion of substances that confer resistance to the tumor.”

The study, which was recently published in the scientific publication The Journal of Pathology, mice with multiple myeloma – a malignant disease of the plasma cells produced in bone marrow and spread throughout the body – were treated with the selective anti-cancer drug Velcade (bortezomib). Velcade is based on the discovery of ubiquitin, for which professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion won the Nobel Prize (along with the late American biologist Irwin Rose) in 2004.

SEE ALSO: How Elephants’ Genes Are Fighting Cancer In Humans

Shaked found that treatment with Velcade led to a physiological reaction that actually reinforced the intensity of the myeloma in the mice. According to Shaked, the drug caused inflammatory cells in the bone marrow to enhance the aggressiveness of the disease and provide the cancer cells with resistance to treatment. Still, “treatment with Velcade is essential and necessary,” says Shaked, “but its disadvantage is that along with the benefit there is damage.”

Next steps: Inhibiting the mechanism that enhances the tumor

Understanding the mechanisms that enhance the tumor and accelerate the spread of metastases “will enable us to develop methods to inhibit them,” he stresses. In fact, when the researchers inhibited the secreted factor related to the activity of inflammatory cells, they observed a decrease in the proliferation of cancer cells. Now, they are working on various ways to inhibit the body’s response to anti-cancer treatments.

“Ultimately, we are talking about a trade-off between the intensity of the treatment and the intensity of the physical response,” Shaked says. “The moment the ratio is in favor of the treatment, and to the detriment of the response, we will achieve effective treatment without a ‘fine’ in the form of enhanced metastasis. In addition, we can inhibit the body’s response using existing drugs, thereby enabling the anti-cancer drugs to get the job done.”

Prof. Yuval Shaked

Prof. Yuval Shaked

The study was conducted by Dr. Ofrat Beyar Katz, a doctoral student at Prof. Shaked’s lab, along with Prof. Irit Avivi from Israel’s Rambam Hospital, and Prof. Yosef Yarden from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Photos: Courtesy

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This Company Invented A Machine Algorithm That Diagnoses Breast Cancer Earlier Thu, 13 Oct 2016 12:53:04 +0000

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At a young age, British researcher Phil Teare lost his wife to cervical cancer. Left to raise their daughter alone and for her sake, he decided to dedicate his life and career to detecting cancer at earlier stages. Teare taught himself machine learning in order to recruit machines to fight diseases.

“I was told then by my wife’s oncologist that there was a ‘catch 22’ for women her young age,” Teare told NoCamels. “That for someone her age, invasive diagnostic procedures, while having a low chance of mortality, were still too high a risk when compared to the very low likelihood of her symptoms being those of cancer. And so the common practice was to assume it was not, and wait. But wait too long and it could be real, and spread. As it so tragically did.”

This led Teare to join the team at Zebra Medical Vision, an Israeli deep learning imaging analytics company, which battles breast cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The company has just announced the development of a new software algorithm using machine and deep learning for detecting breast cancer. The algorithm provides superior results compared to current tools, reducing misdiagnosis and false alarms.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, second only to skin cancers. About 1 in 8 women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. As early detection is key to fighting breast cancer, women over 45 are advised to have a mammogram screening every two years. Approximately 10 percent of tests are sent for further evaluation due to suspicious findings, and approximately 5 women out of every 1,000 will develop breast cancer. Unfortunately, one of those 5 will be missed, and discovered too late. Furthermore, most women who are sent for biopsy follow ups turn out to be healthy – subjecting them to unnecessary tests and mental anguish.


big data internet hierarchy data visualisation

Automatic diagnosis

Unlike other companies, Zebra’s algorithms provide an actual diagnosis, completely automatically using only imaging data. This is a very new field – older technology was always driven by the radiologist, and never automatic. The algorithms are part of the Zebra Analytics Platform – a cloud based analytics engine that receives medical imaging studies, analyzes them and returns results to participating hospitals and physicians.

Reducing false negatives & positives

Zebra’s new algorithm  helps  provide better outcomes in two keys ways by reducing both false negatives and false positives. Less false negatives results in accurately detecting women with cancer, and fewer false positives means women will not have to undergo unnecessary tests and stressful procedures. According to the company, Zebra’s solution uses this technology to cut down the 20 percent of undetected breast cancer cases by more than half.

Zebra Medical Vision developed their mammography algorithm using thousands of patient studies, and utilizing innovative deep learning techniques. Presenting the company’s results at the recent SIIM Conference on Machine Intelligence in Medical Imaging (CMIMI), Dr. Elnekave, Zebra’s Chief Medical Officer, showcased algorithm results superior to those achieved by radiologists using current state of the art Computer Aided Detection methods for mammography.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Find Promising Therapy For ‘Treatment-Resistant’ Breast Cancer

“As a mammographer, I am cognizant of the vast variations in which breast cancer can manifest on a mammogram. Some of the most challenging cancer diagnoses are ones where the visual cues are not distinct lesions but rather regional asymmetry or architectural distortion in the breast tissue. I welcome Zebra Medical Vision’s algorithm that is a new generation of mammography analysis, which can help us in the mission of finding even the most subtle cancers as early as possible,” Dr. Maya Cohen,  Director of the imaging Institute at Rabin Medical Center and Director of the Breast Health Center at Herzeliya Medical Center, said in a statement.

Tools for radiologists

The mammography algorithm will be added to the company’s growing list of clinical algorithms which are part of an analytics engine that uses machine and deep learning to automatically read and diagnose medical imaging data. The Zebra engine has already yielded imaging insights that have been validated using hundreds of thousands of cases. Current algorithms are in the fields of bone health, cardiovascular analysis, liver and lung indications, and now mammography.

“We teach software to read and identify clinical conditions in imaging as part of our mission to help provide faster, more accurate radiology services at lower cost,” Elad Benjamin, Zebra Medical Vision’s CEO, said in a statement. “We use machine and deep learning to help diagnose diseases responsible for the highest mortality rates, and breast cancer is one of the top on that list. We believe that the tool we’re providing to radiologists, as well as new algorithms which we continuously release, will help them deal with the continuous pressure they face to increase output and maintain high quality of care.”

Headquartered in Kibbutz Shefayim in central Israel, the Company was founded in 2014 by  Eyal Toledano, Eyal Gura, and Elad Benjamin. Funded by OurCrowd, Marc Benioff, Khosla Ventures, and the Intermountain Healthcare innovation fund, the company has raised $20 million to date. On track to create one hundred new insights in the next three years, Zebra has already secured partnerships with Dell Services and has received financial backing from Intermountain Healthcare, one of the leading healthcare organizations in the US. Zebra continues to expand its relationships and work with ACOs, HMOs and other providers seeking to improve care at lower cost through the power of analytics, predictive modeling and preventative care.


Zebra Medical team


Photos: Zebra Medical Vision

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Study: Inducing Labor Just As Safe As Natural Birth Thu, 13 Oct 2016 12:14:25 +0000

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Inducing labor after the water breaks poses no harm to mothers and their babies, according to a new Israeli study.

The study, conducted at Tel Aviv University, has found that natural, spontaneous deliveries and induced deliveries following the rupture of the amniotic sac in the mother share similar outcomes, contradicting common wisdom.

Induced labor — the process of jump-starting delivery using prostaglandin, a fatty acid compound with hormone-like effects, notably the promotion of uterine contractions — “has gotten a bad rep,” Dr. Liran Hiersch, the lead researcher, said in a statement. “We found little justification for this in the case of women whose water broke prematurely.”

SEE ALSO: Excess Weight During Pregnancy Affects Children’s Health

According to Hiersch, “people have an idea that everything natural is better, including childbirth. But induction is not necessarily more dangerous for mother and child than Mother Nature herself.”

The pregnant woman in summer on grass

No more dangerous than Mother Nature 

Most expectant mothers are warned about artificially induced deliveries. These warnings counsel that induction may cause a low fetal heart rate, an increased risk of infection to mother and baby, and uterine rupture or excessive bleeding after delivery. “We have found that induction produces healthy mothers and infants, with risk factors similar to those of spontaneous deliveries,” Hiersch said.

SEE ALSO: Mom’s Stress During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Iron Levels

The researchers evaluated 625 women admitted to Israel’s Rabin Medical Center with prolonged (24-hour) premature rupture of membranes or water breakage. Women who did not exhibit the spontaneous onset of labor within 24 hours from the moment their water broke underwent prostaglandin induction. These were then compared to those women who did develop the spontaneous onset of labor within 24 hours of being admitted. No significant difference was found between the groups regarding maternal age, parity and obstetrical complications.

Women in the induction group were found to be at an increased risk for Cesarean section, but researchers believe this was due mainly to blocked birth canals and not the induction itself.

Artificial induction is a possibility for all expectant mothers who have approached two weeks past their delivery date, who experience high blood pressure or diabetes, who have a uterine infection or who simply haven’t experienced contractions despite their water having broken. These women are often hospitalized for 24 hours. But after 24 hours have passed without natural delivery, most medical professionals will induce labor artificially to reduce subsequent risks to mother and child.

Patients should be reassured

“There is a palpable fear among women who are waiting for the contractions to begin,” Hiersch says. “They fear fetal distress, they fear infection, umbilical cord trouble, but we have found no basis for their fears. These mothers should be assured that induced labor poses no increased risk to the health of their babies and themselves.”

Hiersch is currently working on predicting which women may spontaneously go into labor following the premature rupture of membranes.


The study, which was recently published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, was conducted by Dr. Liran Hiersch and Dr. Eran Ashwal, both of TAU‘s Sackler School of Medicine and the Helen Schneider Hospital for Women at Rabin Medical Center

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This Flexible 3D-Printed Material Can Form Any Shape, Poised To Revolutionize Wearable Tech Mon, 10 Oct 2016 10:39:51 +0000

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Israeli scientists have developed a new metamaterial that can form any pattern if you compress it: Squashing a cube made from this new material can make it smile [see video], but it can be designed to do almost anything, they claim.

Therefore, this 3D-printed material is poised to revolutionize soft robotics, prosthetics and wearable technologies.

SEE ALSO: ‘Limb Factory’ Gives Life Back To Disabled From All Over The World

For example, if your prosthesis keeps chafing and doesn’t snugly fit your limb, the new ‘programmable’ material could change your life.

SEE ALSO: 3D Printers’ Next Stop: Your Mouth

This new approach to forming a mechanical metamaterial – which is engineered to have a property that’s not found in nature and can be programmed to deform in a uniquely complex manner – could have future applications in wearable technologies, prosthetics and soft robotics, a sub-field of robotics that deals with non-rigid robots constructed with deformable materials like silicone, plastic, fabric or rubber.

In a recent Tel Aviv University study, published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, researchers show how they mix up the sub-units of a material to “program” its final pattern. Their method could pave the way for the development of more close-fitting, comfortable and user-friendly prosthetics.

“The possibilities are endless”

Developed by TAU’s Dr. Yair Shokef and Prof. Martin van Hecke of Leiden University and AMOLF, the Netherlands, the substance was used to 3D-print a metamaterial cube. A smiley-face pattern emerged on the side of the cube when it was compressed between appropriately patterned surfaces.

“We started with a series of flexible building blocks whose deformation properties varied with their orientation,” Shokef said in a statement. “We then developed a new design principle to enable these bricks to be oriented and assembled into a larger metamaterial with machine-like functionalities.”

This metamaterial, according to the researchers, has an unusual property. “On a seemingly normal cube, a programmable pattern of bulges appears when it is compressed,” Shokef says. “In the case of metamaterials, those designed by humans, the spatial structure determines the material’s behavior. By smartly combining the building blocks, we can program the material in such way that every desired pattern appears on the sides of a compressed cube.”

flexible material

There are many applications that could be derived from this groundbreaking study. “This type of programmable ‘machine materials’ could be ideal for prostheses or wearable technology in which a close fit with the body is important,” Shokef says. “If we can make the building blocks more complex or produce these from other materials, then the possibilities are endless.”

Photos and video: Tel Aviv University, Nature

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Israeli Study Shows Female Oncologists Feel More Burnout Mon, 03 Oct 2016 16:56:41 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

The tough act of balancing work and home life, along with other domestic and professional challenges, may be a contributor to the higher burnout rates found among female oncologists compared to their male colleagues. And by reducing these outside stresses, oncologists may be able to cope more effectively with patient death.

A Ben Gurion University study set out to look at gender differences in grief reactions, burnout and emotional distress among clinical oncologists, their reactions to patient deaths and emotional distress.

SEE ALSO: Research: Doctors Should Be Trained To Talk About Death


The results, published in the journal Cancer, found that women reported significantly more grief over the death of their patients, more emotional distress and more burnout. While overall women reported more burnout, they reported emotional distress and grief responses only when they reached relatively higher levels of burnout compared to their male colleagues, who experienced these feelings even with moderate burnout.

For both men and women, however, higher levels of grief and emotional distress were felt among those who reported high levels of burnout.

SEE ALSO: Study: Doctors Should Set Personal Example With Medical Procedures

Burnout is a type of psychological stress in which sufferers feel exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and ineffectiveness, and it can lead to people leaving their jobs earlier than retirement age. The condition is a big issue among oncologists and many studies have documented its prevalence, yet few have attempted to determine what is associated with the high burnout rate. Gender is an important variable to examine in this context, primary investigator Dr. Leeat Granek of BGU’s Department of Public Health said.

The researchers surveyed 178 oncologists from Israel and Canada, 100 of whom were women.

The study results indicate that the medical system should look at the cumulative stressors oncologists face on a day-to-day basis, Granek said in a statement, and take into account gender differences when helping the physicians cope with patient death and dealing with burnout.

Health News: female doctors more tolerant than male counterparts

To read the full article, click here

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Israeli Researchers Decode Autism Genes Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:03:06 +0000

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According to the Autism Society, the prevalence of autism in US children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). This makes autism the fastest-growing developmental disability.

In a new study, Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev say they have taken “a step closer” to understanding the genetic basis of autism, which they hope will lead to earlier diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

SEE ALSO: AngelSense Helps Parents Keeps Track Of Autistic Kids

Dr. Idan Menashe, Mr. Erez Tsur and Prof. Michael Friger studied the sequences of over 650 genes that are associated with autism and discovered characteristics that distinguish them from other genes in the genome. Their research was recently published in Behavior Genetics

A unique signature

Among the distinct characteristics of autism genes is their exceptional genomic length, which is even longer than other brain-expressed genes of closely related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Additionally, the authors found a unique genomic signature in these genes that was shaped by negative selection, an evolutionary process that removes disruptive mutations from genes over generations.  

Menashe and his colleagues also searched for evidence of positive selection in these genes. Such a mechanism could explain the presence of autism in the human population. However, no indications of positive selection acting on autism genes were found. Thus, autism susceptibility mutations are maintained in the human genome probably because they cause the disorder only in combination with other genetic and/or non-genetic factors.   

Finally, the authors used the unique genomic characteristics of autism genes to identify additional candidate genes for the disorder. They showed that this evolutionary signature is highly efficient in capturing well-established autism genes. These findings broaden our understanding about the genetic mechanisms that are involved in autism, and provide new tools for the discovery of new candidate genes.  

Autism, Child stacking, child Autism,

Repetitively stacking or lining up objects is associated with autism.

“A step closer”

“We are a step closer to understanding the genes associated with autism and understanding the biological process that is involved in the disease,” Menashe told The Times of Israel. “This study gives us a tool to help identify additional autism genes, using the genetic signature we have found, and from there hopefully to be able to diagnose autism earlier.”

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Israeli Researchers Make Breakthrough Discovery In Fight Against Breast Cancer Sun, 25 Sep 2016 07:46:07 +0000

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Every year, one in eight women worldwide is diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women. Early detection, while increasingly common, is not sufficient to prevent metastasis, the lethal movement of cancerous cells from a primary tumor site to colonies in vital organs.

But researchers across the world are frantically working on progress in treating and curing the disease. One Israeli study has found that combining genetic therapy with chemotherapy delivered to the tumor is particularly effective in preventing the spread of breast cancer.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Find Promising Therapy For ‘Treatment-Resistant’ Breast Cancer

“Death rates from breast cancer remain high and relatively unchanged despite advances in medicine and technology,” Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Noam Shomron, who led the study, said in a statement. “We wanted to find a way to stop metastasis from happening altogether. It’s the turning point, where survival rates drop exponentially.”

Health News: Researchers Find Method For Treating 'Treatment-Resistant' Breast Cancer

Stopping cancer in its tracks

In their study, TAU researchers delivered microRNAs (small RNA molecules) to primary tumors in mice to halt the spread of cancer. Their mission was to block a cancer cell’s ability to change shape and move. Cancer cells alter their structure in order to squeeze past other cells, enter blood vessels and ride along to their next stop: the lungs, the brain or other vital organs. “We chose microRNAs as our naturally occurring therapy, because they are master regulators of gene expression,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Research Succeeds In Isolating Cancer ‘Stem Cells’

The researchers explored the span of mutations in a tumor in order to identify precisely which ones to target. The scientists then procured an RNA-based drug to control cell movement and created a safe nano-vehicle with which to deliver the microRNA to the tumor site.

Looking at mutations that “other researchers have ignored” – those at the tail end of a gene (as opposed to those situated within the coding region of the gene) – the team noticed that mutations there were involved in metastasis.

Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their mouse “patients,” the researchers injected into primary tumor sites a hydrogel that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites. Two days after this treatment, the primary breast tumors were excised.

The mice were evaluated three weeks later using CT imaging, fluorescent labeling, biopsies and pathology. The researchers discovered that the mice that had been treated with two different microRNAs had very few or no metastatic sites, whereas the control group — injected with randomly scrambled RNAs — exhibited a fatal proliferation of metastatic sites.

Says Shomron: “We realized we had stopped breast cancer metastasis in a mouse model, and that these results might be applicable to humans.”

Cancer Cell

The research was led by Dr. Noam Shomron of TAU‘s Sackler School of Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Natalie Artzi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Data on human genetics were provided by Prof. Eitan Friedman of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. The study was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

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Israeli Wearable Device MotionCure Relieves Motion Sickness In Minutes Sun, 18 Sep 2016 12:05:33 +0000

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If you get nauseous or queasy when on a boat, ferry or a plane, and even when you just ride the bus to work, you are not alone. Motion sickness affects one in every four people, for whom Israeli wearable device MotionCure could now provide relief within minutes.

Developed by Sidis Labs, MotionCure is a neck collar that uses tingling pulses to relieve the dizziness, nausea, and vomiting that people experience when their sense of balance is disturbed by constant motion.

SEE ALSO: Wear It Well: The Top Ten Wearable Tech Made In Israel


Founded in 2014 by Ohad Raz and Ami Dror, Sidis Labs came up with the idea for a motion sickness device after Raz completed his military service as a captain in the Israeli Navy, where “the problem of motion sickness was very close to my heart, as you can imagine,” he tells NoCamels.

Building on groundbreaking NASA research, MotionCure “creates customized pulses that are transmitted to the area of the median nerve that is at the nape (the back of neck),” he says. “Those help to reduce the signals that are sent from the brain to the stomach and basically calm down the stomach.”

SEE ALSO: MUV’s Smart ‘Ring’ BIRD Transforms Surfaces Into Giant Interactive Touchscreens

Raz describes the device as “an easy-to-use combination of a neck collar and a travel pillow that you wear on the plane.” In order to feel the pulse’s tingling sensations, all the user has to do is put in two AAA batteries and situate the device comfortably around the neck.

While previous attempts to help motion sickness include prescription, over-the-counter pills, and bracelets, “we are providing a natural alternative for drugs,” he says. “I think there is an understanding in the world that we should minimize the amount of drugs we take.”

Still, MotionCure is up against several competitors, in Israel and abroad. Israeli company Sea-Band, for instance, sells acupressure wristbands that are said to treat nausea as well as motion sickness. Similarly, drugs such as Dramamine and Travel-Ease are popular among people who face these symptoms.

Another problem might be its bulky nature. Wearing a big neck collar on your bus ride to work isn’t exactly subtle.

“Feel better in a matter of minutes”

MotionCure says its device can also be used by people undergoing chemotherapy, whose side effects include nausea and vomiting: “We didn’t plan for this to happen, but we keep getting feedback from people who have used it with chemotherapy and it helped them a lot,” Raz says. However, this was not independently verified.

MotionCure is sold for $150 on Amazon and on It is best used before the symptoms begin, but you can use it at the onset. Says Raz: “Either way, you will feel better in a matter of minutes.”


Photos: Courtesy

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Stunning But Scary: Video Shows Bacteria Evolving Into Super Bugs Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:39:52 +0000

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A sped-up version of  the evolution of antibiotic resistant E. coli.

With the help of a giant Petri dish, Israeli and American researchers are showing us evolution at its most ferocious.

The time-lapse video above shows the first large-scale glimpse of how bacteria (in this case E. coli) mutate into superbugs when faced with increasing doses of antibiotics, to become 1000 times more resistant than their original state.

A giant Petri dish

Seeking to better visualize how bacteria transform when treated with different types of antibiotics, Israeli and American researchers designed a simple experiment. Led by Professor Roy Kishony of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and documented in the September 9th issue of Science, a team of researchers constructed a two-by-four foot Petri dish, dubbed the “MEGA-plate”, and filled it with 14 liters of agar, a seaweed-derived jellylike substance commonly used in labs to nourish organisms as they grow. The dish was split into different sections, with each portion receiving varying doses of antibiotics.

SEE ALSO: This Remarkable Discovery Shows Why Bacteria Are Becoming Tolerant To Antibiotics

The bacteria on the outermost part of the dish were not treated with any drugs at all, while the next portion had just the right amount of antibiotics to kill the bug. Each following section was given a dose ten times more powerful than the last, with the center portion getting a thousand times more antibiotics than the areas with the lowest dosage. In order to track how the E. coli developed, the researchers attached a camera to the facility’s ceiling, taking photos of the evolution over a span of two weeks.


Findings: Mutant superbugs

According to their findings, when faced with antibiotics, at first most of the bacteria perished, but there was always a small percentage of mutant bacteria that adjusted to the antibiotics and were able to survive. What happened then was a form of competition between mutated strains, as each sought to move on to parts of the dish that had higher doses of antibiotics. Most importantly, the experiment showed that the most resistant of the mutants proved to be capable of resisting the highest dose of antibiotics, effectively making them E. coli superbugs.

Superbugs have been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the greatest threats to human health after adapting to become resistant to all forms of antibiotics. Each year across the globe more than 700,000 people die, including about 214,000 infants less than a month old, due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Aside from being a strong visualization of evolution, and its role in the rise of superbugs, the experiment gives biologists a tool to better analyze how those superbugs develop.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Say Technique Can Neutralize Anti-Biotic Resistant Bacteria

Inspired by Hollywood

The inspiration for the experiment ultimately came from a Hollywood movie. Seeking a visually captivating way to teach evolution to students in a graduate course, Kishony drew upon an idea from a digital billboard he saw advertising the 2011 film ‘Contagion’, about a deadly viral pandemic. As a marketing tool, the producers of the film created a giant lab dish showing swarms of painted, glowing microbes creeping slowly across a dark backdrop to spell out the title of the movie.

“We really did not invent the MEGA-plate,” Kishony explained in an interview. “It was invented in Hollywood, of all places.”

Given the circumstances, this may be a case of life imitating art.


Photos and Videos: Technion, Harvard Medical School

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UPnRIDE: This Segway-Like Vehicle Will Help Quadriplegics Stand Tall Mon, 05 Sep 2016 11:06:03 +0000

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UPnRIDE, a revolutionary Segway-like device that allows quadriplegics to stand up and move around almost anywhere, is poised to change the life of thousands of paralyzed people when it will be unveiled at the Rehacare International convention in Germany, later this month.

The Israeli device was developed by Dr. Amit Goffer, who already founded the revolutionary exoskeleton ReWalk, which enables paraplegics to walk and climb stairs. His new device will help quadriplegics (people paralyzed from the neck down) to stand and be mobile.

SEE ALSO: Innovation Nation: 10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing The World


The brain behind ReWalk, Goffer is himself a quadriplegic who does not have full use of his arms, which means he cannot use the ReWalk to walk. In fact, this incredible device can only be used by roughly 10 percent of handicapped individuals.

That is why Goffer, who is confined to a wheelchair, has been working on a more comprehensive solution over the past three years. Similar to a stand-up Segway or an electric scooter, the patented UPnRIDE moves over different kinds of terrains with the user’s guidance, using a joystick operated by hand or by mouth. Automatic balancing assures a safe ride uphill, downhill, and on slanted surfaces, in both standing and sitting positions.

“Being able to stand and move is extremely important for people’s physiological health and their dignity,” Goffer says. According to him, the UPnRIDE reduces secondary complications of long-term sitting, lowering the need for hospitalization, medications and physiotherapy.

“Shifting attention away from the disability”

Standing wheelchairs were first created in order to facilitate better circulation and other health benefits for the wheelchair-confined, and to provide a chance for eye-to-eye social interaction. However, according to UPnRIDE Robotics CEO Oren Tamari, “most other standing wheelchairs don’t allow travelling on surfaces that aren’t plain.”

While using the device, a set of jointed braces and harnessing straps provide support when transitioning between sitting and standing positions. Cutting-edge motion technology and real-time computing ensures automatic balancing and stability when UPnRIDE maneuvers on sloped sidewalks, parking lots and ramps, maintaining a constant center of gravity to minimize the risk of hazardous situations.

ReWalker Oliver, Ursel & Andre – Berlin, Germany

ReWalk, Goffer’s previous invention

According to Tamari, UPnRIDE, which is expected to cost roughly $32,000 (wheelchairs typically cost $15,000-$50,000) will significantly cuts healthcare expenses, by reducing the need for standing and physiotherapy apparatuses – a major cost saving for insurers, hospitals, patients and their families.

A comprehensive solution  

SEE ALSO: ReWalk, The Revolutionary Israeli Tech That Allows Paraplegics To Walk, Nabs FDA Approval

Meanwhile, the ReWalk exoskeleton already has a market cap of $73 million on Nasdaq. In 2012, one woman completed the 2012 London Marathon in 17 days using ReWalk. And, in 2015, the US Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will provide ReWalk exoskeletons for eligible veterans with spinal cord injuries.

“An extremely good feeling”

Founded in 2013, UPnRIDE Robotics is headed by Tamari and by president and CTO Goffer, both graduates of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who left ReWalk to found UPnRIDE. The startup received a grant from Israel’s Chief Scientist, $1.7 million in funding from Israeli crowd-funding platform OurCrowd, and additional funds from angel investors. So far, UPnRIDE has raised $3 million, and is in the process of raising another $4 million, Tamari says.


Dr. Amit Goffer using UPnRIDE

David Stark, OurCrowd general partner, tells NoCamels that “Amit’s personal need for an upright mobility solution fueled his drive to develop the UPnRIDE, which will one day benefit wheelchair-bound people all around the world.”

But money isn’t everything; Goffer’s true passion is to improve the lives of millions around the globe. Just last year, Goffer – who became quadriplegic as a result of a 1997 accident – was able to leave his home standing up, for the first time since the accident, using UPnRIDE: “It was a very strange feeling, an extremely good one.”

Photos and video: UPnRIDE, Technion

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Mediterranean Diet Is Better For Your Heart Than Taking Statins Wed, 31 Aug 2016 14:30:58 +0000

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A Mediterranean diet is better than statins at lowering the risk of an early death from heart disease for millions of people, said some of the world’s leading heart experts. A global heart disease conference in Rome concluded that patients should be prescribed the diet – which includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and nuts – before being prescribed statins.

SEE ALSO: Study: Mediterranean And Low-Carb Diets Have Long-Lasting Health Benefits

Speaking at a global heart disease conference in Rome, Italian expert, Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Italy, explained that so far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people. The study sought to find out what happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease. Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them as well?

For the study, the researchers looked at 1,200 Italians with a history of heart disease over a period of seven years. They found that those who adhered more closely to a Mediterranean diet were less likely to be among the 208 people who died during the course of the study. In fact, he researchers found that people who ate a mostly Mediterranean diet had a 37 percent less chance of dying during the study period.

Mediterranean diet: Supplemental to statins?

Statins are popular worldwide and several studies have shown they can lower cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the likelihood of major heart problems. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 28 percent of Americans over 40 were taking some kind of statin when surveyed in 2011 and 2012.

Experts hailed the new findings as “extraordinary”, showing that diet was “more powerful than any drug”. High consumption of vegetables had the greatest impact on survival, followed by oily fish intake, amount of fruit eaten and consumption of mono-unsaturated fat, found in olive oil.

“This study suggests that even if you are already receiving medical care, if you add a Mediterranean diet, it will have further benefit,” said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, in an interview with the Telegraph. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if you have had a heart attack or stroke is really important and continues to benefit you.”

Israel: Land of vegetable lovers

Israel sits in the Mediterranean crescent, a region praised for its diet rich in vegetables, fish and unsaturated fat. In a study published last year which examined the eating habits of residents of of 187 countries, Israelis were found to have the ninth most healthy diet in the world.

SEE ALSO: Hebrew University Student Invents World’s First Bacteria-Free Food Packaging

Vegetables - Health News - Israel


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Skin Cancer Breakthrough: Melanoma Cure Within Reach Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:15:29 +0000

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Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, and melanoma – the most aggressive of all skin cancers, which accounts for 2 percent of skin cancer cases – is responsible for nearly all skin cancer deaths. Melanoma rates have risen rapidly in the US over the last 30 years. In 2013, Israel’s Health Ministry recorded 1,634 new cases of melanoma, nearly twice the number diagnosed in 1980. Although scientists have identified key risk factors, they have struggled to find a way to halt its spread.

Now, Israeli and German scientists have potentially discovered how the cells of melanoma invade the rest of the body and ways to stop that spread.

SEE ALSO: ‘Cure For Terminal Cancer’ Discovered With Breakthrough Immunotherapy

In a breakthrough study published Monday in the journal Nature Cell Biology, the team details how melanoma evolves from pigment producing cells called melanocytes into tumors, and then spreads, or metastasizes, in the rest of the body.

Tumors initially form on the dermis, the outer layers of skin often in the form of dark colored moles. If caught early, doctors can easily remove the moles and prevent the cancer from spreading. If the mole is allowed to expand into dermis, the cells can be absorbed into the body’s circulatory system and travel to major organs and lymph nodes, where the disease becomes deadly and more aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are needed.

Melanoma Cells

Melanoma cells

“The threat of melanoma is not in the initial tumor that appears on the skin, but rather in its metastasis – cancer cells sent off to colonize in vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver and bones,” team leader Dr. Carmit Levy, of Tel Aviv University explains.

SEE ALSO: Vanity Best Tool In Fight Against Skin Cancer

According to the study, the way that the tumor spreads is through releasing microscopic bubbles called vesicles which contain microRNA genetic material. This genetic material triggers changes with skin cells which are the equipped to receive and then carry the cancer to the rest of the body, in what the study calls “trafficking before invasion.”

Two chemicals hold the key

The researchers say that they have also discovered two chemicals that could stop the process of metastasizing in its tracks.

The first chemical, dubbed only with an alpha-numerical designation of SB202190, prohibits vesicles from travelling from tumors into healthy skin cells. U0126, the second chemical, prohibits the cells from morphing after being exposed to vesicles so that they will be unable to accept cancer cells.

Both chemicals could be good contenders for drug treatments, according to the report.

Levy’s team from Tel Aviv University worked with Dr. Shoshi Greenberger from the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Dr. Ronen Brenner with Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and Prof. Jorg Hoheisel and Laureen Sander from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg.

“Our study is an important step on the road to a full remedy for the deadliest skin cancer,” Levy says. “We hope that our findings will help turn melanoma into a nonthreatening, easily curable disease.”



Photos: Tel Aviv University



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Serving Up A Balanced Meal: Could Israeli Startup ‘Plate My Meal’ Teach Iranian Kids Healthy Eating Habits? Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:44:26 +0000

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“Globesity,” the term used by the World Health Organization to describe the global epidemic of obesity, is spreading fast. According to the WHO, more than 1.9 billion adults in the world are overweight, of whom 600 million are obese.

Now, Israeli startup Plate My Meal is offering a simple yet effective way to instill healthy eating habits and prevent obesity from a young age, with a five-piece plastic plate set for toddlers. The plates, which are divided into different compartments, indicate the recommended portions of different kinds of foods, including dairy products, vegetables and grains.

SEE ALSO: These Israeli Companies Fight World Hunger With Innovative Technologies

In addition, the set suggests the appropriate time for each meal: Breakfast (7-8 a.m.), mid-morning snack (10-11 a.m.), lunch (12-1 p.m.), mid-afternoon snack (3-4 p.m.), and dinner (5-7 p.m.).

“I envisioned a product that would help parents encourage their children to eat healthy, so I developed a very simple, three-step system: when, what and how much to eat,” Plate My Meal CEO Dror Tamir (also the co-founder of startup Steak TzarTzar, which grows crickets for human consumption) tells NoCamels. The plate set costs $30 and is currently available on the company’s website, with additional online retailers coming soon.

SEE ALSO: Study: Mediterranean And Low-Carb Diets Have Long-Lasting Health Benefits

plate my meal - set

The company, which dubs its three-step system “the 3D healthy eating concept,” based it on US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines for Americans. The system not only teaches toddlers proper serving sizes, but also the different food groups and how to mix them up to make a healthy meal.

“The government spends billions of dollars every year trying to educate the public,” says Tamir, who questions its success, in light of the growing obesity epidemic. “Instead of talking about losing weight or dieting, we have to talk about our habits.”

According to the company, the Israeli health ministry has endorsed Plate My Meal. Even the ministry of health in Iran – which has no diplomatic relations with Israel – contacted Tamir about the plate set, since Iran is also combating a national obesity problem. In a recent crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, Plate My Meal raised $10,030, further proving the interest in its product.

Some of the advantages Plate My Meal claims to have over its competitors – MyPlate, Diet Plate, and Create Your Plate, to name a few – is that it recommends portion sizes and foods from different groups, while simultaneously tailoring each plate for a specific meal and therefore a specific time of the day. Plate My Meal also contains one plate for each recommended meal of the day, whereas some of its competitors offer one plate for all meals, according to Tamir.

Peanut butter or tahini? 

Evidently, Plate My Meal caters to some cultural dietary differences. For instance, the American set contains one dairy portion for lunch and one protein for dinner, whereas the Israeli set contains the opposite (protein for lunch and dairy for dinner), in accordance with local customs. The food suggestions also take these cultural differences into account: The portion of fat in the middle compartment of one of the plates contains drawings of both tahini (Mediterranean) and peanut butter (American) as options.

Vegetables - Health News - Israel

Plate My Meal plans to create sets for the whole family, not just for children, and also cater to other dietary restrictions, such as vegetarianism and veganism. Most importantly, encouraging healthy eating habits from a young age are fundamental for the prevention of obesity, and that’s what Plate My Meal is trying to achieve.

Now, all that’s left to do is to actually fill your plate!

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Israeli Researchers Find Way To Spot Tumor Cells Invading The Brain At An Early Stage Tue, 09 Aug 2016 09:11:31 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers; when malignant melanoma metastasizes to the brain, it is a death sentence for most patients. The mechanisms that govern early metastatic growth and interactions of metastatic cells with the brain’s microenvironment are still shrouded in mystery.

Now, a Tel Aviv University study shows a new way of detecting brain micrometastases months before they transform into malignant and inoperable growths. According to the research, micro-tumor cells hijack astrogliosis, the brain’s natural response to damage or injury, to support metastatic growth. This knowledge may lead to the detection of brain cancer in its first stages and permit early intervention, the university said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: How Elephants’ Genes Are Fighting Cancer In Humans

Cancer Cell

The study was led by Dr. Neta Erez of the Department of Pathology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and published in Cancer Research.

SEE ALSO: To Stop Cancer From Spreading: Shoot The Messenger

Erez and her team used mouse models to study and follow the spontaneous metastasis of melanoma in the brain. She and her partners went over all the stages of metastasis: the initial discovery of melanoma in the skin, the removal of the primary tumor, the micrometastatic dissemination of cancer cells across the body, the discovery of a tumor and eventual death.

Imaging techniques used today cannot detect micrometastases. Melanoma patients whose initial melanoma was removed may believe that everything is fine for months, or years, following the initial procedure.

Yet after the removal of the primary tumor, micrometastatic cells travel across the body to the brain or other organs, and are undetectable at the micro level. These cells learn to communicate with cells in their new microenvironment in the brain — cells which are, at first, hostile to them. But eventually a tumor appears. And then it generally is too late for treatment.

Erez calls the period of the initial growth of disseminated micrometastatic cells in distant organs the “black box” of metastasis. “We believe that we have found the tools to characterize this black box,” said Erez. “And this is key to developing therapeutic approaches that may prevent brain metastatic relapse.”

Students and researchers at Dr. Neta Erez's lab

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

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Baby Keeping You Up? Nanit’s Innovative Monitor Helps Parents Get A Good Night’s Sleep Sun, 07 Aug 2016 13:24:19 +0000

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One of the biggest problems new parents deal with is severe lack of sleep: Newborns and babies often wake up in the middle of the night, leaving mom and dad exhausted by dawn.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Research Finds Parents’ Interrupted Sleep Is The Equivalent Of No Sleep At All

In order to learn more about your baby’s sleep cycles, and adjust yourself better to their snooze patterns, startup Nanit, which was founded by Israelis, has come up with a smart baby monitor, which not only alerts you when your little one wakes up, but also documents on video every minute of their sleeping hours, using innovative computer vision technology.

Nanit tracks four measures: sleep quality – which is the ratio of the time the baby is asleep to its time in bed; how much time the baby sleeps through the night; how many times the parents attend to the child throughout the night; and sleep onset – how long it takes the baby to fall asleep.

“Parents know their child best; we are just giving them the information, so they can make the best decisions for their child,” Tor Ivry, co-founder and CTO of Nanit, tells NoCamels.

nanit baby monitor

Nanit uses machine learning technologies to monitor the baby’s sleep behavior by live-steaming the crib in HD to an app on the parent’s smartphone. The monitor itself – a slick, white device – provides a bird’s-eye view of the crib, streaming video that uses algorithms to analyze the baby’s movements. The computer vision technology allows the app to differentiate between a sleeping baby and a restless baby, so if the app senses motion in the middle of the night, the parents will be alerted through the app.

How does Nanit help you optimize your baby’s sleep? Here’s an example: One of Nanit’s beta testers realized that when they gave formula to their baby right before he went to sleep, it took him longer to fall asleep. Thus, Nanit can give parents the tools to better manage their baby’s sleep.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Reveal What Lack of Sleep Does To Your Brain

The mobile app provides a comprehensive sleep report each morning, through which parents can watch a time-lapse video and see a summary of the night’s events. In addition to the sleep analysis, Nanit has a night-light, built-in temperature and humidity sensors, and it can also play nature sounds or white noise to help your baby fall asleep.

Nanit is available on the company’s website for $329 for the hardware and $100 for a year of analytics. Pre-orders are $279, and $50 for the analytics. If the parents decide to only buy the hardware, they will still receive real-time alerts and a free 30-day trial of the analytics.

Baby sleep guru 

Founded in 2014 by Ivry, CEO Assaf Glazer and COO Andrew Berman, this revolutionary baby monitor has already received $6.6 million in funding from several investors.

baby crying

Obviously, Nanit competes against many other baby monitors, some more sophisticated than others. It also competes against one of Israel’s most revolutionary inventions in this field – respiratory monitor BabySense (by HiSense), which is placed under the baby’s mattress and alerts parents when breathing stops or becomes irregular, protecting babies against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Some call Nanit a “sleep guru,” while others call it a “baby translator.” No matter what you call this monitor, we hope it gives you a good night’s sleep!
sleeping baby

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Israeli, Indian Entrepreneurs Join Forces To Tackle India’s Healthcare Challenges Wed, 03 Aug 2016 11:40:44 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Amid Bollywood music and dancing, mouthwatering curries and masalas, more than 600 innovators, entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals in four cities, in Israel and India, took part in a hackathon aimed at resolving health challenges for India’s poor.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Water Crisis, Indian Minister Praises Israeli Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

Some 100 teams in Tel Aviv, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore spent 36 hours together, face-to-face and online, and came up with ideas including a toothbrush that detects anemia, mobile phone applications to monitor the food intake of infants, and a smart pillbox to remind patients to take their tuberculosis medication.

The India Israel Affordable Healthcare Hackathon, which ran for three days in the four cities and ended recently, was organized by the Pears Program for Global Innovation, which is run by the Tel Aviv University. The program is a partner of OLAM, an organization promoting global Jewish service and international development.

The aim of the hackathon was to expose Israeli technology to the challenges of developing markets and turn the attention of Israeli entrepreneurs to the potential that Africa and India hold for their products. There are over 1,000 startups in the healthcare sector in Israel but most of them target the US and European markets.

“The best teams of the hackathon will be invited to join the Pears Challenge year-long fellowship program for outstanding Israeli innovators who want to develop technologies to address the health care needs of poor people in India,” Aliza Belman Inbal, director of the Pears Program, said by phone. “The hackathon was an amazing first step in this journey. We hope to create a pipeline of commercial ventures that deal with these problems.” The Indian winning teams will get placed at a parallel program in India.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Pesticide Company That Fights Pests With Bumble Bees Now Launches In India

The teams had to tackle pressing health problems by finding, among other challenges: an anemia diagnostic test for young girls; a technological solution to monitor food and milk intake among infants; screening and diagnosis solutions for hearing impairment; real-time monitoring devices for pregnant women in remote areas; a way to manage the side effects of chemotherapy in remote areas; improved access to funding for cancer treatments and a technology driven-solution to give psychological counseling for cancer patients by connecting them to doctors and counselors.

taj mahal

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Pears Program

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New Liquid Salt Blend ‘Umamix’ Cuts Sodium Intake In Half Without Sacrificing Flavor Wed, 20 Jul 2016 12:12:19 +0000

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These days, any nutrition aficionado will advise you to reduce sugar and carbs and warn you of their dreary tag-alongs, obesity and diabetes. But buried deep in health columns is something doctors have been saying for decades: high salt intake is just as bad.

SEE ALSO: Study: Mediterranean And Low-Carb Diets Have Long-Lasting Health Benefits

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “high sodium consumption raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are among the leading causes of death.”

Low-sodium salt is one option, but if you’ve ever tasted it, chances are you won’t have liked it. Trying its luck, Israeli company Salt of the Earth has come up with a new “salt” called Umamix, which is made of natural extracts, vegetable concentrates, and a little bit of Red Sea salt.

umamix new salt less sodium

Cutting sodium intake in half, the product comes in liquid form, and its brown color is reminiscent of soy sauce. But like soy sauce, the blend is more expensive than regular sea salt: it is expected to cost $5-$9 per kilogram. Umamix is named after umami, the fifth taste (along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter). 

SEE ALSO: Ari Fruchter’s New Dead Sea Project: ‘The World’s Healthiest Gourmet Sea Salt That Will Also Promote Peace

According to Salt of the Earth, a can of tuna contains 350-450 mg of sodium; with Umamix, you can reduce it by 29 percent, without sacrificing the flavor. In other foods, the reduction is even greater: the company’s tests on hamburgers showed a 45 percent reduction – which means almost cutting sodium intake in half; and mayonnaise spiced with Umamix has 31 percent less sodium.

“Salt is necessary for life, of course, but most of us consume twice the recommended maximum level and that is a big problem,” Revital Ben Shachar, marketing manager for Salt of the Earth, tells NoCamels.

Adding a savory flavor

Salt of the Earth, established in 1922 with headquarters in Atlit, Israel, produces salt from the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The company is Israel’s main salt manufacturer, and exports to 30 countries worldwide. With Umamix, the company seeks to capitalize on the demand for healthy alternatives.

Salt of the Earth says it is collaborating with several organizations to introduce its new product to the market: Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; the Chopping Block Culinary School in Chicago; Israeli hospitals and bakeries; and giant food manufacturer General Mills. For now, the condiment is not available to consumers.

Social Awareness: Israeli Entrepreneur Hopes Dead Sea Salt Will Promote Peace In The Middle East

The Dead Sea

“We want to build a strong foothold [in the food service industry]  in order to be able to show the validation of the product and its different applications,” Dror Levy, the company’s retail export manager, tells NoCamels.

“In several taste panels we have conducted, many people actually preferred Umamix to the regular salt,” Levy says.

Whether you like the taste of Umamix or not, one thing is certain: Reducing sodium intake will benefit your health!


Photos: Salt of the Earth

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Skin Deep: Temporary Electronic Tattoo Can Read Your Emotions Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:09:24 +0000

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A penny for your thoughts? Put your coins away. A new stick-on electronic tattoo could help reveal what people are really thinking.

Developed by Professor Yael Hanein, head of Tel Aviv University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, the user-friendly electrode can be used to improve the therapeutic restoration of damaged nerves and tissue – and could even lead to new insights into our emotional life.

SEE ALSO: Light Beams, Not Pacemakers, Could Be The Future Of Heart Treatments

Stick-on monitoring

Consisting of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin, and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode’s performance, the tattoo records a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin.

The tattoo allows users to continue on with their regular schedules, while monitoring their muscle activity for many hours, for a range of medical and other purposes. “Our tattoo permits patients to carry on with their daily routines, while the electrode monitors their muscle and nerve activity,” Hanein said in a statement.

Mapping of emotions

One major application of the new electrode, already under development, may be the mapping of emotions. “The ability to identify and map people’s emotions has many potential uses,” Hanein said. “Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals and others – all want to test people’s reactions to various products and situations. Today, with no accurate scientific tools available, they rely mostly on inevitably subjective questionnaires. To address this need, researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via facial photos and smart software. Our skin electrode provides a simple, convenient solution: monitoring expressions and emotions based on the electric signals received from facial muscles.”

SEE ALSO: Using DNA Nanotechnology, Israeli Scientists Develop The Future Of Flexible Display Screens

Conducted within the framework of an EU project, and partly supported by the BSMT Consortium of Israel’s Ministry of Economy, the study Hanein led was presented at an international nanomedicine workshop at Tel Aviv University in June.

Nanotechnology temporary tattoos

The new skin electrode is based on a fusion of nanotechnology with a very basic and commonplace product: the temporary tattoos that children love so much. “We used readily available materials and conventional industrial printing techniques, in order to simplify and speed up the development process,” Hanein explained. “Our ‘electric tattoo’ consists of three parts: a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that sticks temporary tattoos to the skin and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating, with special nano-topography, that enhances the electrode’s performance. The result is an efficient skin electrode that records a strong and steady signal for many hours, and does not irritate the skin. The user just fixes it onto the skin at the right spot and forgets about it, then carries on as usual while the little ‘tattoo’ measures and records muscle activity.”


Additional applications

According to Hanein, this is only the beginning. The new skin electrode has many more potential applications: a study initiated recently in collaboration with researchers at the Tel Aviv Medical Center uses it to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases; physiological data measured in specific muscles may be used in the future to indicate the alertness of drivers on the road; patients in rehabilitation following stroke or brain injury may utilize the ‘tattoo’ to improve muscle control; and amputees may employ it to move artificial limbs with remaining muscles.

Photos: Tel Aviv University

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Israeli Prostate Cancer Test Reduces Need For Biopsies Mon, 11 Jul 2016 10:47:09 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men after skin cancer, with almost 190,000 new cases in the US expected for 2016 and about 26,000 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer.

SEE ALSO: To Stop Cancer From Spreading: Shoot The Messenger

Prostate cancer can often be detected before symptoms arise by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) — a substance made by cells in the prostate gland — in the blood. A high level of PSA could be indicative of cancer and if a blood test finds this, the patient will most often be sent for a biopsy.

Lung cancer cell dividing

But here lies the problem. Because PSA is secreted both by normal cells and cancer cells, its levels could be high for other reasons and not necessarily cancer: age, an inflammation of the prostate gland, or even a bicycle ride. But most often when doctors receive a high reading, they send their patients to do a biopsy, just to be on the safe side.

“There are roughly 1.5 million primary biopsies done in the US a year,” says Israel-born Arnon Chait, the CEO of Cleveland Diagnostics, based in Cleveland, Ohio. “On average 70 percent come back negative.” That is good news for the patient, but at a cost of about $4,000 per biopsy, health providers are not happy.

SEE ALSO: Harmless? Herbal Medicines Could Interfere With Life-Saving Cancer Treatments

Thus Cleveland Diagnostics (CDX), founded by Chait and his partner Boris Zaslavsky in 2013, is developing a technology and test kit that can identify the PSA that specifically comes from cancer cells. “We don’t look at the level of PSA in the blood – which is not specific to cancer,” Chait said. “Our test asks: where did this PSA come from, normal cells or cancer cells? This will help health providers save billions of dollars and patients won’t have to undergo unnecessary procedures.”

Potentially, said Chait, the new IsoPSA test, expected to enter the market in the last quarter of the year, could replace the current PSA test in the screening process in health centers. This same technology could also be used in other applications, to detect breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Chait said, as well as for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

To read the full article, click here

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Life-Saving Wearable Tech: This T-Shirt Monitors Your Heart And Vital Signs Wed, 06 Jul 2016 10:46:14 +0000

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If you or a someone you care about has suffered from a heart condition, you know how important early detection is.

That’s why Israeli startup HealthWatch has developed hWear, a high ‘tech-xtile’ wearable technology that monitors ECG (the electrical activity of the heart) and vital signs in real time.

SEE ALSO: Light Beams, Not Pacemakers, Could Be The Future Of Heart Treatments

hWear by HealthWatch

hWear is a sleeveless shirt that can be worn under any blouse, shirt or dress. Its fabric is embedded with ECG sensors that monitor the patient’s condition. If there are any irregularities, the shirt will send immediate updates using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to both the patient and their doctor, so the situation can be promptly addressed and treated.

Oftentimes, patients aren’t aware that they are having a cardiac episode, as heart problems can appear in many different forms. When this happens, problems can be left unchecked, and therefore untreated, until the next doctor’s appointment – when it could be too late.


It’s important to note that hWear itself is not the solution to the problem. Should the wearer experience any heart problems, hWear will only notify them and not actually rectify the problem. Once the wearer receives a notification, however, they can quickly consult a physician. With hWear, patients are able to take care of medical issues before they become life threatening.

SEE ALSO: One Heart Sometimes Beats As Two Dozen: New Study Could Improve Heart Disease Treatment

HealthWatch, hWear’s developer, is located in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was founded in 2010 by CEO Uri Amir, who has spent the past few decades creating and manufacturing medical devices.

In an interview with NoCamels, Amir describes the company as “weaving health into everyday life.”

Washable and FDA-approved 

hWear is one of the first heart-monitoring shirts on the market. It has little competition; while some wearable technologies like the “D-shirt” and “NuMetrex” monitor people’s heart rates, hWear monitors all vital signs – pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure – giving both doctor and patient much more information.

Despite the advanced technology of this potentially life-saving product, hWear is quite simple to operate. No skin preparation or shaving is needed. Just slip on FDA-approved garment, and you’re ready to go. You can even put it in the washing machine along with the rest of your clothes!

Making health awareness as simple as getting dressed in the morning

Wearable technology is a rapidly growing industry. According to research firm Gartner, the industry is expected to grow by more than 18 percent this year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. Fortunately, hWear can potentially save thousands of lives by making health awareness as simple as getting dressed in the morning.


Photos and video: Courtesy

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Wearable Device Livia Promises To ‘Turn Off’ Menstrual Cramps, Alleviate Period Pain Mon, 04 Jul 2016 13:35:15 +0000

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Most women suffer pain during menstruation; oftentimes, the aches can get bloody awful. It happens every month, and painkillers don’t always alleviate the cramps.

Now, an Israeli device called Livia is offering a solution to these scheduled periods of discomfort, by sending weak electric pulses to your abdomen. This wearable technology, which clasps onto your pants and is hidden under your blouse, can be discreetly worn in public (it certainly doesn’t cramp your style!) and also helps women stay away from painkillers.

SEE ALSO: Medasense’s Pain Assessment Monitor Among Winners Of Prestigious Startup Competition

Livia is marketed as “the off-switch for menstrual cramps.” It consists of a small square device with two gel pads attached to it, which are placed on the affected area of the abdomen.

SEE ALSO: Music For Medicine: How Musicians Are Easing The Pain Of Patients

The device utilizes a technology similar to Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), usually employed in physical therapy, to block pain receptors from processing the hurtful sensation in the brain and thus work its magic.

Chen Nachum, co-founder and CEO of Livia, explains the technology through the gate control theory of pain, which hypothesizes that there are “gates” that can prevent pain sensation from traveling to the central nervous system.

“The nervous system can only handle one type of pain at a time, one type of signal,” he tells NoCamels. “So, if you create a signal that is not pain but a tingling sensation, and you transmit it to the body faster than the pain, then the nervous system will be busy with that signal and not with the pain.”


However, Nachum explains that there is a specific difference between TENS and the technology behind Livia. “Livia’s  wave shape is different, making it so effective for pain,” he says. “So, if you use a physical therapy device and if you use Livia, it feels similar but the body is reacting differently to the pulses.”

He could not go into further detail at the moment, since the company is currently trying to patent its technology.

Raising $775,000 in just one month 

Over the past years, Prof. Bari Kaplan, an OBGYN at Israel’s Beilinson Hospital, has constantly been looking for an alternative to painkillers to help his patients. And so, in April 2015, he co-founded Livia, along with Nachum.

Livia recently raised nearly $775,000 on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, 1340 percent more than its initial goal. According to the company, with additional funds from private investors, the company already has more than $1 million in funding.

Taking care of back pain  

Livia is also said to work for back pain in the lower abdomen area of the body, which can be an advantage to women who suffer increased levels of back pains during their periods.

But with all its alleged advantages, some have criticized Livia for not being very discreet: If you don’t wear the right shirt, the device could potentially draw unwanted attention to your abdomen.

Pending FDA approval 

The company is expected to officially launch its product in October, for $85-$149. In the meantime, Livia is working on obtaining FDA approval.

The feedback from women who tested Livia so far has been encouraging, saying the device has really helped them, according to Nachum: “The responses I get are amazing, way beyond what I imagined.”


Photos and video: Courtesy

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Taking The Uncertainty Out Of Breastfeeding: MomSense Measures Breast Milk Intake Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:53:32 +0000

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While parents who bottle-feed their babies can measure exactly how much formula is given, nursing mothers never know how much breast milk their baby actually consumes.

Now, Israeli startup MomSense is offering a mobile app that monitors babies’ milk intake in real time, revealing how many cubic centimeters (cc) of milk are consumed during breastfeeding. The company’s patented Smart Breastfeeding Meter consists of a smartphone app and an $89 earphone set that contains a nursing sensor which is placed beneath the baby’s earlobe.

The goal of MomSense is to make mothers feel more confident that their infants are getting enough nutrition by allowing them to accurately measure and control the consumed quantities of breast milk. The app monitors and analyzes the baby’s gulping for factors such as intensity, speed and frequency, to approximate the amount of milk consumed.

50 percent of new moms give up on breastfeeding 

Research shows that the predominant reason women give up breastfeeding (50 percent of new nursing moms eventually give up) is the belief that they are not providing enough milk; so, they then turn to bottle-feeding, which can regulate how much their babies are consuming.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Discover Breast Milk Not Always Healthy

By continually keeping track of each nursing session with MomSense, the app – available for both iOS and Android smartphones – gradually builds an ongoing record of breastfeeding patterns by amalgamating detailed nursing reports collected over time.

This technology also allows mothers to listen to their babies’ gulping sounds, thus enabling caregivers to acquaint themselves with the child’s regular eating sounds, thereby being able to detect anything that might deviate from their daily routine.

Making sure your newborn gets sufficient nutrition 

MomSense advises against using the app on premature babies, and all babies weighing less than two kilograms due to the fact that their chambers might be weak or not fully developed. Furthermore, it is advised to only employ the device once the colostrum (the earliest form of liquid produced by the milk ducts) is replaced by milk, which usually takes a few days after childbirth.

The company has also addressed concerns regarding radiation and safety by advising mothers to put their phones on airplane mode when nursing in order to avoid emissions from their smartphones.

According to reports in the media, the startup, which was founded in 2013 by Dr. Osnat Emanuel, has had several funding rounds after its initial $1 million seed round; however, a spokeswoman for MomSense declined to comment.


Earlier this year, MomSense was awarded the “Top Choice of the Year” award by Baby Maternity Magazine in the Nursing Aids category. Before earning the award, the app was tested by 50 new mothers, pregnant women and caregiver professionals.

SEE ALSO: Study: Breastfed Babies Are Less Likely To Develop ADHD

Now, after almost four years of research and development, MomSense’s technology is finally available to reassure new moms around the world that their babies are getting sufficient nutrition. According to Emanuel, “breastfeeding is a significant period for both mother and baby. We want to create a breastfeeding experience that gives mother a sense of calm and confidence which encourages her to continue breastfeeding and benefit from it.”


Photos and video: MomSense

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Israeli Startup Nano Dimension 3D Prints Human Stem Cells Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:09:28 +0000

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Using plastics, nylon and metals to 3D print objects has already transformed the way companies around the world manufacture their prototypes and products. But the printing of stem cells – multicellular organisms capable of giving rise to more cells of the same type – provides for a much more serious application of the technology, one that could save many lives.

Israeli company Nano Dimension has successfully lab-tested a 3D bioprinter for stem cells, making it very possible that human tissue and organs can be manufactured using 3D printing in the not too distant future. 3D bioprinting is the process of creating cell patterns in a confined space using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved, creating tissue-like structures that are later used in the medical and tissue engineering fields.

SEE ALSO: 3D Print Your Own Homemade Superfood With Israeli Tech ‘Green Onyx’


In order to develop these high-quality cells, Nano Dimension turned to another Israeli startup, Haifa-based Accellta, to collaborate on the trial. The feasibility study confirmed that the combined know-how and technologies of the companies enabled printing of viable stem cells using an adapted 3D printer.

“3D printing of living cells is a technology that’s playing a significant role in medical research”

According to Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror, “3D printing of living cells is a technology that is already playing a significant role in medical research, but in order to reach its full potential, for the field to evolve further, there is a need to improve printing speeds, print resolution, cell control and viability as well as cell availability and bio-ink technologies. By combining our high-speed, high-precision inkjet capabilities with Accellta’s stem cell suspension technologies and induced differentiation capabilities led by a world-renown group of experienced engineers and scientists, we can enable 3D printing at high resolution and high volumes.”

The companies will consider the formation of a new venture for these future solutions, and do not intend to invest significant capital directly to expand this activity. Such funds would be raised by and for the use of the joint venture.

SEE ALSO: Israeli 3D Printing Makes Life-Saving Blood Recycling Machine 96 Percent Cheaper

3D bioprinting enabled by the two companies’ technologies, means that Nano Dimension and Accellta have the potential to accelerate high-fidelity and high-viability manufacturing of living cellular products. Accellta’s unique, robust and reproducible suspension-based cell culturing systems produce billions of high-quality stem cells per batch and represent a transformative step in terms of stem cell production. Accellta’s technology can deliver large quantities of high-quality cells, which can be an enabler for printing even larger and more complex tissues – even whole organs in the future.


Embryonic stem cell

According to Accellta chairman and CEO Dr. Itzchak Angel, “Accellta and Nano Dimension have joined forces in this initial trial to evaluate and adapt the joint potential of our technologies. We hope and believe that this will bring the mutual capabilities and know-how of both companies to create 3D bioprinting solutions that combine a high precision, high-throughput printer with dedicated bio-ink technologies, derived from stem cells. By enabling high precision 3D bioprinting and differentiation of stem cells into required tissues, our combined technologies have the potential to enable vast areas of development.”

Photos: Courtesy

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Double The Sweetness, Half The Sugar: DouxMatok Tricks Your Brain Into Cutting Sugar Intake Thu, 02 Jun 2016 08:56:36 +0000

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There is something about sugar most of us simply can’t resist. With just one small bite, it enters our blood stream and rushes the body with pure energy. Our bodies are hardwired to love it, and that’s why the addiction to sugar is so hard to kick.

SEE ALSO: Thirsty? ‘The Right Cup’ Turns Water Into Your Favorite Drink Using Scent – Not Sugar

Public health bodies recommend eating a diet low in sugar to prevent the onset of diabetes. Fortunately, Israeli startup DouxMatok is coming to the rescue with a healthier solution which could revolutionize how manufacturers and consumers worldwide use sugar. DouxMatok has engineered a new form of sugar that offers the same sugar experience with half the calories. The sugar looks the same, but it’s physically altered to maximally satiate our tongues, so we consume less and protect our health.

Telling your brain: Enough sugar!

To make DouxMatok sugar, the company attaches regular sugar to a micron-sized, food-safe silica molecule (one of the most common substances on earth), using molecular bonding. This greatly increases the particle’s surface area, so when the sugar dissolves on the tongue, the taste buds are exposed to more of the sweet taste, and we feel satisfied.

SEE ALSO: Meet Valiber, The Smart Spoon That Tells You Exactly How Sweet Your Beverage Is

According to founder Eran Baniel, DouxMatok sugar tricks the brain into believing it consumed more than it actually did. “DouxMatok’s technology will allow for a reduction of 30-60 percent of sugar in a product, depending on the application, and with no effect on taste. When we tested it in the UK, our product had the exact same taste profile as sugar, with none of the aftertaste caused by artificial sweeteners.”

The technology would allow us to continue to consume the sugary chocolate and cakes we love, while experiencing fewer of sugar’s pernicious side effects, the most common being unwanted weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

The tongue test

The product is a lab-based transformation of sugar, which requires no artificial chemicals. The enhanced sugar works by modifying how the molecules interact with the receptors on the tongue. DouxMatok’s technology coats the sugar molecules on to organic carriers using a natural mineral, which transports multiple sugar molecules together to the taste receptors on the tongue.

The gustatory system, through which the body perceives taste, is not a fully efficient process. When consuming food or drink with a sweet flavor, usually containing sugar syrup or powder, many of the sugar molecules move through the mouth and miss the sweet taste receptors.

Consumers ingest these sugar particles without registering their sweetness, and therefore the sweetness of the product as a whole. If people could taste every sugar molecule in a cup of regular soda, they would most likely find it undrinkable.


Founded in 2014, DouxMatok won the award for Outstanding Company at “Agravest 2015″, a conference organized by Israel’s Ministry of Economy and other companies. The startup recently partnered with the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in Boston to optimize its technologies and is currently in the process of raising $4 million for research and development.

The implications of what DouxMatok is doing are far reaching. And who knows, perhaps in the near future, the age-old coffee/tea question ‘one lump or two?’ may soon be replaced with the statement ‘one lump is just as sweet as two’.

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Not Just Asthma: Exposure To Air Pollution Raises Heart Disease Risk Mon, 30 May 2016 08:52:42 +0000

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Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health, known to cause lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, including asthma. According to the World Health Organization, outdoor air pollution causes 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide annually.

SEE ALSO: Exposure To Air Pollution In Womb Raises Risk Of Autism, Study Finds

But air pollution is not only linked to respiratory diseases. A new Israeli study shows that air pollution can worsen blood sugar levels, cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease, particularly in people with diabetes.

Health News: Israeli Researchers Use Skin Cells To Repair Damaged Hearts

The study, which was conducted by Israel’s Ben Gurion University and the Soroka University Medical Center, was recently published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“The continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern”

“While air pollution is linked with relatively small changes in cardio-metabolic risk factors, the continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern,” Dr. Victor Novack of BGU and the Soroka University Medical Center, who led the study, said in a statement. “Even small changes in glucose levels and glycemic control can contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”

SEE ALSO: Following Israel’s Most Devastating Sandstorm, Eyes Are On Air Pollution App BreezoMeter

The study examined the effects of air pollution exposure on 73,117 adults living in southern Israel, where levels of particulate matter can escalate due to its location in the global dust belt.

To assess air pollution, the researchers used daily satellite data on how much sunlight was blocked by particles in the air. By examining this and other weather data, the scientists developed a model that allowed them to estimate daily air pollution exposure for each study participant using their address.

They then analyzed the results from 600,000 blood samples taken from the study subjects between 2003 and 2012. All of the study participants were known smokers or were diagnosed with diabetes, ischemic heart disease (a disease characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart), and hypertension (or dyslipidemia), which occurs when levels of fats in the blood are too high or low.

The study found participants tended to have higher blood sugar levels and a poorer cholesterol profile when they were exposed to higher levels of air particulates in the preceding three months compared to those exposed to lower levels of air pollutants. In all, particulate matter exposure was associated with increases in blood glucose, LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides, or fats in the blood. Exposure to particulate matter was also linked to lower levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol.

The associations were stronger for people with diabetes; however, those who were taking medications other than insulin to treat diabetes experienced a protective effect. This group experienced smaller changes in blood sugar and cholesterol levels following air pollution exposure.


Although air pollution did not have an immediate effect on blood test results taken within as little as seven days of exposure, the researchers found that cumulative exposure over the course of three months was tied to risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“We found an association between air pollution exposure in the intermediate term and undesirable changes in cholesterol,” researcher Maayan Yitshak Sade of BGU and Soroka University Medical Center said in a statement. “This suggests that cumulative exposure to air pollution over the course of a lifetime could lead to elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Other authors of the study include: Itai Kloog of BGU; Idit F. Liberty of BGU and Asuta Medical Center in Beer-Sheva; and Joel Schwartz of the Harvard School of Public Health. The research was supported by a grant from Israel’s Environment and Health Fund. 

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LifeBond’s Stomach Closure ‘Glue’ Gets EU Approval Sun, 15 May 2016 11:25:31 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

LifeSeal, the no-leak sealant solution for patients who have undergone gastrointestinal (GI) surgery, is now approved for use in the European Union. The sealant, developed by Israel-based LifeBond, will allow doctors in 32 countries to use the unique “glue” that prevents leaks after bariatric and GI operations.

SEE ALSO: After Thousands Of Years Of Stitching, Israelis Invent New Wound-Closure Method

In addition, the company said, LifeSeal is now also on the fast track to FDA approval. The product was given the FDA’s Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) designation, and is now eligible for quicker approval consideration, which the company hopes will take place after it begins its new international study, which will include sites in the US and Europe. The FDA reserves its EAP designation for products that provide a solution for an unmet medical need.

LifeBond's lab

LifeBond’s lab

“LifeSeal offers surgical units and hospitals with an innovative, high-quality surgical tool that both easily integrates into the surgical practice, and has been proven in clinical studies to make a major positive difference for patients,” said Ittai Harel, chairman of the board of LifeBond and managing general partner at Pitango, the venture capital firm that led the company’s recent $27 million Series D investment round.

Generally, patients who have undergone bariatric or GI surgery will have their incisions stapled or glued, neither of which is an ideal solution. Staples have been known to leak, while glues can break down over time. In both cases, the risk of infection rises considerably as the patient’s insides are exposed to air.

In addition, the closures, which must remain in place for months, are difficult for patients to live with, and they often break, even if they have been secured well, because of patient activity like scratching.

SEE ALSO: New Israeli Innovation Can Patch Incisions With No Stitching Or Scarring

To solve this, LifeBond has developed a proprietary adhesive platform technology that quickly turns into a polymer (in the form of a hydrogel matrix – a clear, flexible and strong seal) that adheres strongly to physiological tissue surfaces. The properties of the polymerization process and the hydrogel matrix can be controlled to fit a variety of applications.

According to the company, the sealant is stronger and longer-lasting than others on the market, and uses only natural ingredients instead of chemicals, so it is much better tolerated in patients than other sealants.


To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

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Study: Overweight Teens Are At Increased Risk For Life-Threatening Heart Disease In Adulthood Wed, 04 May 2016 08:39:02 +0000

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Parents, take note: A nationwide, long-term study of 2.3 million Israeli adolescents conducted from 1967 through 2010 has found a link between elevated body mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and life-threatening heart disease in midlife.

SEE ALSO: Excess Weight During Pregnancy Affects Children’s Health

BMI is the value derived from the weight and height of an individual (weight divided by the square of the height – kg/m2). Normal BMI values are considered to be in the range of 18.5 to 25.

Start diet today

One-third of adolescents are either overweight or obese

Overweight and obesity in adolescents have increased substantially in recent decades, and currently affect a third of the adolescent population in some developed countries.

Some studies suggest that an elevated BMI is associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes. However, a determination of the BMI threshold that is associated with increased risk of fatality has remained uncertain.

SEE ALSO: Wait, What? Eating Carbs At Night Could Benefit Obese People

In light of the worldwide increase in childhood obesity, Israeli researchers Prof. Jeremy Kark and Dr. Hagai Levine from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, together with Dr. Gilad Twig of Sheba Medical Center and other colleagues in Israel, set out to determine the association between BMI in late adolescence and death from cardiovascular causes in adulthood.

Their study, which was recently published in the prestigious medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine, was based on the body mass index values of 2.3 people, starting at 17 year olds.

The results showed that 9.1 percent died from cardiovascular causes, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and sudden death. But those with elevated BMI had the highest risk. The BMI threshold associated with fatal risk was shown to be 22.5.

“Our findings appear to provide a link between the trends in adolescent overweight during the past decades and coronary mortality in midlife,” Kark said in a statement. “The continuing increase in adolescent BMI, and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents, may account for a substantial and growing future burden of cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease.”

heart attack

The timing of exposure to obesity during a person’s lifetime may play an important role

How might adolescent BMI influence cardiovascular outcomes in adulthood? The researchers considered two possible pathways. First, obesity may be harmful during adolescence, since it has been associated with unfavorable metabolic abnormalities, increased blood pressure, impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. Furthermore, the timing of exposure to obesity during a person’s lifetime may play an important role.

Second, BMI tends to track along the life course, so that overweight adolescents tend to become overweight or obese adults, and overweight or obesity in adulthood affects the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Scientists involved in this research are affiliated with the Department of Medicine and the Dr. Pinchas Bornstein Talpiot Medical Leadership Program, Sheba Medical Center; Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps; Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University; Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine; Israel Ministry of Health; Department of Medicine, Mount Auburn Hospital; and Harvard Medical School. The study was funded by a research grant from the Environment and Health Fund in Jerusalem.

Health News: Israeli Researchers Use Skin Cells To Repair Damaged Hearts

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Vegetables Irrigated With Treated Wastewater Expose Consumers To Drugs, Scientists Warn Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:44:36 +0000

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Treating greywater and using it for agricultural irrigation is one of the best ways to conserve and recycle water. But now, an Israeli study shows that eating vegetables and fruits grown in soils irrigated with reclaimed wastewater exposes consumers to pharmaceutical contaminants. This new experiment found residues of carbamazepine – an anti-epileptic drug commonly detected in wastewater effluents – in the urine of people who consumed vegetables grown in wastewater-irrigated soil.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Global Shortage, World Leaders Praise Israel’s Water Technologies

“Fresh water scarcity worldwide has led to increased use of reclaimed wastewater, as an alternative source for crop irrigation. But the ubiquity of pharmaceuticals in treated effluents has raised concerns over the potential exposure for consumers to drug contaminants via treated wastewater,” according to the team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center.

Vegetables - Health News - Israel

Study co-author Prof. Benny Chefetz of the Hebrew University acknowledges that “Israel is a pioneer and world leader in reuse of reclaimed wastewater in the agriculture sector, providing an excellent platform to conduct such a unique study.” However, his study – one of the first to directly address exposure to such pharmaceutical contaminants in healthy humans – shows that additional safety measures should be considered when treating wastewater for agricultural use.

SEE ALSO: How Israelis Are Helping Solve California’s Devastating Drought

The study, which was recently published in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, followed 34 men and women divided into two groups. The first group was given reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce for the first week, and freshwater-irrigated vegetables in the following week. The second group consumed the produce in reverse order.

The volunteers consumed the produce, which included tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce, according to their normal diet and drank bottled water throughout the study to neutralize water contamination.

“We have demonstrated that healthy individuals consuming reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce excreted carbamazepine and its metabolites in their urine, while subjects consuming fresh water-irrigated produce excreted undetectable or significantly lower levels of carbamazepine,” Prof. Ora Paltiel of the Hebrew University, who led the study, said in a statement. “Treated wastewater-irrigated produce exhibited substantially higher carbamazepine levels than fresh water-irrigated produce.”

Research showed that healthy individuals who consumed reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce excreted carbamazepine in their urine

She further warns that “those who consume produce grown in soil irrigated with treated wastewater increase their exposure to the drug.” Although the levels detected were much lower than in patients who actually consume this specific drug, “it is important to assess the exposure in commercially available produce.”

Most importantly, this study demonstrates that “human exposure to pharmaceuticals occurs through ingestion of commercially available produce irrigated with treated wastewater, providing data which could guide policy and risk assessments,” Chefetz concludes.

Photos and infographics: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Israeli ‘Liver On A Chip’ Could Help Scientists Fight Cancer, Develop New Medications Sun, 24 Apr 2016 06:00:46 +0000

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Israeli researchers have developed a tiny “liver-on-chip” that could help scientists fight liver disease, cancer, and a host of other conditions.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Makes Breakthrough Discovery In Liver Disease Treatment

The chip is made up of human tissues, with sensors for oxygen, glucose, and lactate. Measurements can be tracked in real time, and readouts appear immediately on a computer. The technology, developed at Israel’s Hebrew University, will enable the study of cellular processes, and will further the understanding of what happens when cells are damaged due to disease.

Health News: Israeli Team Finds Mechanism For Producing Stem-Cells Efficiently

In the study, led by Prof. Yaakov Nahmias of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researchers explain their use of micro-sensors to measure changes in cells when they are exposed to new drugs. Liver toxicity can limit the use of new medications, so the tool can be used to screen for less toxic drugs.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Develop New Human Stem Cells With Half A Genome 

The scientists used the chip to study the medication troglitazone (Rezulin), which had been used for diabetes and inflammation until it was removed from the market in 2000 because it induced severe liver injury. The drug cost its manufacturer more than $750 million in lawsuits.

Interestingly, conventional tests did not show liver damage from troglitazone, but the new liver-on-chip technology detected mitochondrial stress. The mitochondria are the organelles that generate energy for the cell. They are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules to power most cell functions. Mitochondrial stress can be an early sign of eventual cell death – which the chip can detect early on.

Redefining cancer research 

“The ability to measure metabolic fluxes using small numbers of cells under physiological conditions can redefine the study of neuro-degenerative disease, stem cells, and cancer, in addition to drug discovery,” Nahmias said in a statement.

According to a Hebrew University statement, the study demonstrates it is possible to monitor in real time metabolic functions of cells exposed to different drug concentrations over a long period of time, using ‘organ-on-chip’ micro-devices.


Dr. Yaakov Nahmias

An alternative for animal experiments 

The study, recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could revolutionize in vitro methods (studies that are performed with microorganisms outside their normal biological context), presenting a real alternative to animal experimentation for evaluating toxicity of chemicals.”

Photos: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Harmless? Herbal Medicines Could Interfere With Life-Saving Cancer Treatments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 08:12:23 +0000

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Nearly two-thirds of the herbal medicines used by cancer patients in the Middle East have potential health risks, according to a new Israeli study. These seemingly harmless plants and extractions were found to interact with conventional cancer drugs and chemotherapy, negatively affecting life-saving anti-cancer treatments.

SEE ALSO: To Stop Cancer From Spreading: Shoot The Messenger

The study, led by Prof. Eran Ben-Arye of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Cancer. It concludes that herbal remedies such as turmeric may increase the toxic effects of certain chemotherapies, while gingko biloba and green teas could increase the risks of bleeding in some cancer patients. Other herbs, including black cumin, can reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

In all, 29 of the 44 most popular herbal products in 16 Middle Eastern countries – from Turkey to Tunisia – were associated with safety-related concerns.

herbs, spices

The findings are based on a survey conducted by Ben-Arye and his colleagues, who asked more than 300 cancer care providers about the kinds of herbal medicines their patients were using. They found that 57 percent of the providers had patients who used at least one herbal remedy.

SEE ALSO: Israelis, Palestinians Join Forces To Explore Local Flowers To Combat Cancer, Diabetes

The countries with the highest rates of herbal medicine use include Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and Qatar. Stinging nettle, garlic, black cumin and turmeric were among the most used herbs, with other items such as camel milk and honey also making the list.

A skeptical view of alternative medicine

Cancer care providers generally have a skeptical view of these alternative medicines, but the study notes that they support having a physician consultant who can speak to “the effectiveness and safety of these herbal practices, along with conventional cancer treatments.”

Ben-Arye emphasizes that, “in the majority of cases, patients seek to combine the best of the two worlds and do not perceive herbal medicine as a real alternative to modern oncology care.”

However, in many cases, there is a lack of communication between the patient and cancer care provider. According to the study, more than 20 percent of patients who use complementary and traditional medicine, including herbal agents, “are often reluctant to disclose this practice to their conventional medical professional.”

Health News: female doctors more tolerant than male counterparts

Detrimental effect

The researchers hope the new study will urge cancer care providers to offer “open, non-judgmental” advice about the safety and effectiveness of herbal medicine and improve physician-patient communication.

Hopefully, their findings will raise awareness to the detrimental effects of certain herbal products for cancer patients receiving conventional treatment.

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Breakthrough Blood Test For Alzheimer’s Disease To Undergo Clinical Trials Mon, 04 Apr 2016 09:41:42 +0000

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In order to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, medical professionals must conduct a long series of tests to assess a patient’s memory impairment, cognitive skills, functional abilities, and behavioral changes. The process also includes costly brain imagining scans and, in some cases, invasive cerebral spinal fluid tests to rule out other diseases.

Now, a new discovery by a team of Israeli and American researchers seeks to effectively screen and diagnose Alzheimer’s using a blood test. The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, proposes a new biomarker for cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease: The activity-dependent neuro-protective protein (ADNP), whose levels can be easily monitored in routine blood tests. The study also found that higher ADNP levels tested in the blood correlate with higher IQ in healthy older adults. The researchers now plan to move forward into clinical trials in order to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments.

SEE ALSO: Study: People Who Treat Alzheimer’s Patients Should Have Creative Hobbies

Elderly couple

The research was led by Tel Aviv University‘s Prof. Illana Gozes, and spearheaded by Dr. Gad Marshall, Dr. Aaron Schultz, and Prof. Reisa Sperling of Harvard University, along with Prof. Judith Aharon-Peretz of Rambam Medical Center and the Technion Institute of Technology.

Early intervention

During the study, significant increases in ADNP levels were observed in patients ranging from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s dementia. ADNP levels tested in plasma and serum samples, as well as white blood cell RNA levels, distinguished among cognitively normal elderly, MCI, and Alzheimer’s dementia participants.

The investigators analyzed blood samples taken from 42 healthy adults, MCI patients, and Alzheimer’s disease patients at Rambam Medical Center in Israel. After comparing the ADNP expression in the blood samples, the researchers prepared plasma samples and once again compared the protein levels.

“Early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients”

“This study has provided the basis to detect this biomarker in routine, non-invasive blood tests, and it is known that early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients,” Gozes said in a statement. “We are now planning to take these preliminary findings forward into clinical trials — to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments.”

SEE ALSO: Understanding Gender Differences Could Improve Autism And Alzheimer’s Treatment

This new research is based on Gozes’ earlier investigation of neuronal plasticity and nerve cell protection at the molecular, cellular, and system level, and her discovery of novel families of proteins, including ADNP, associated with cross-communication among neural nerve cells and their support cells. “Interestingly, we also found that the more ADNP in the serum, the higher the person’s IQ level,” Gozes said.

Health News: Researchers Identify Protein That May Be Key In Alzheimer's Treatment

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Israeli Researchers Find Key To Long-Term Preservation Of Organs For Transplant Thu, 24 Mar 2016 12:45:10 +0000

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When transplanting donated organs, time is of the essence. Transplantation stands the best chance to succeed when performed as quickly as possible after the donor surgery. A heart or lung is kept viable for transplantation for only six hours before deterioration begins. A pancreas or liver go to waste after 12 hours in storage, and a kidney can be kept outside the body for less than 30 hours.

Keep cool, not frozen

One of the main problems standing in the way of storing organs for more than a few hours is ice growth. When organs are frozen, expanding ice crystals damage the cells in a way that they cannot be revived.  Therefore, organs which are removed from a donor are kept cooled but not frozen.

A Hebrew University team led by Prof. Ido Braslavsky is now contributing significantly to the effort to perfect the process of preserving cells, tissues and organs in sub-zero temperatures. This would enable long-term banking of tissues and organs and efficient matching between donor and patient, eventually saving the lives of millions of people around the world.

“The ability to freeze organs and to then thaw them without causing damage to the organ itself would be revolutionary in terms of our chances to save lives,” Braslavsky said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Develop New Human Stem Cells With Half A Genome 

Ido Braslavsky

Prof. Ido Braslavsky at his lab, where his team investigates ice-binding proteins and new methods in cryopreservation of cells.

Braslavsky’s area of specialty is so-called “antifreeze proteins,” ice-binding proteins that help organisms resist or withstand freezing in water and on land by inhibiting the formation and growth of crystalline ice. Ice-binding proteins were discovered some 50 years ago in Antarctic fish and are now known to exist in cold-resistant fish, plants, insects and microorganisms. They actively inhibit the formation and growth of crystalline ice, and their superiority over other antifreeze substances is that they are needed in very low amounts to do it effectively.

Braslavsky and his team collaborated with Prof. Peter Davies from Queen’s University in Canada to investigate the mystery of exactly how ice-binding proteins stop the formation of ice crystals. They discovered that antifreeze proteins bind permanently with ice. “We found that proteins in insects are much more efficient in inhibiting ice growth than proteins in fish, but fish proteins bind faster to ice,” according to Braslavsky.

Learning from frozen foods?

This finding, recently published in the scientific journals Langmuir and RSC Advances, could be crucial for the advancement of using these proteins to help preserve frozen organs as well as frozen foods.

Many are familiar with ice cream that has lost its texture in home freezers, or meat that has lost a lot of its liquids and doesn’t look or taste fresh after thawing. Ice-binding proteins may allow the control of ice in frozen food and the developments of new frozen treats. Some food manufacturers have already started using ice-binding proteins in their products.


Braslavsky’s pioneering work in studying the interaction between antifreeze proteins and ice is now expanding to developing a cryopreservation technique (a process by which cells susceptible to damage caused by chemical reactivity or time are preserved by cooling to sub-zero temperatures) that will allow revival of cells and tissues while restoring their form and function.

Clearly, Braslavsky’s technique could be instrumental in ending the organ transplant shortage.

Photos: Dr. Amir Bein
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Scientific Breakthrough: Researchers Create A New Type Of Stem Cell That Has Half A Genome Tue, 22 Mar 2016 13:02:27 +0000

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In what many call a breakthrough discovery, Israeli and American scientists have succeeded in generating a new type of embryonic stem cell that carries a single copy of the human genome, instead of the two copies typically found in normal stem cells. These stem cells are the first human cells capable of cell division with just one copy of the parent cell’s genome.

SEE ALSO: Study Finds Precious Stem Cells Are Assigned ‘Bodyguard’ Cells

Human cells are considered ‘diploid’ because they inherit two sets of chromosomes, 46 in total: 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. The only exceptions are reproductive (egg and sperm) cells, known as ‘haploid’ cells because they contain a single set of 23 chromosomes. These haploid cells cannot divide to make more eggs and sperm. Previous efforts to generate embryonic stem cells using human egg cells resulted in diploid stem cells.

One set of chromosomes is enough

In this study, however, scientists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Columbia University Medical Center and The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute triggered unfertilized human egg cells into dividing. They then highlighted the DNA with a fluorescent dye and isolated the haploid stem cells, which were scattered among the more populous diploid cells. The scientists recently published their findings in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.

The researchers showed that these haploid stem cells were pluripotent, meaning they were able to differentiate into many other cell types, including nerve, heart, and pancreatic cells – while retaining a single set of chromosomes.

An important impact on medical research

“This study has given us a new type of human stem cell that will have an important impact on human genetic and medical research,” Dr. Nissim Benvenisty of the Hebrew University, who co-led the study, said in a statement. “These cells will provide researchers with a novel tool for improving our understanding of human development, and the reasons why we reproduce sexually, instead of from a single parent.”

Since there are two copies of each gene, it has been challenging for researchers to locate and edit mutations that could lead to disease. With just one copy of a gene to target, haploid human cells could constitute a powerful tool for genetics, and could lead to better treatments for a host of diseases. Being able to affect single-copy genes in haploid human stem cells also has the potential to facilitate genetic analysis in biomedical fields such as cancer research and regenerative medicine.

SEE ALSO: Stem Cell Treatments Could Alleviate Asthma, Study Shows

“One of the greatest advantages of using haploid human cells is that it is much easier to edit their genes,” according to Dr. Ido Sagi of the Hebrew University, who co-led the study. “In diploid cells, detecting the biological effects of a single-copy mutation is difficult, because the other copy is normal and serves as ‘backup.’”

A cure for genetic diseases

Since the stem cells described in this study were a genetic match to the egg cell donor, they could also be used to develop cell-based therapies for diseases such as blindness, diabetes, or other conditions in which genetically identical cells offer a therapeutic advantage. Because their genetic content is equivalent to germ cells, they might also be useful for reproductive purposes.

A haploid cell with 23 chromosomes (left), and a diploid cell with 46 chromosomes (right).  (Credit: Columbia University Medical Center/Hebrew University.)

A haploid cell with 23 chromosomes (left), and a diploid cell with 46 chromosomes (right)

Photos and video: The Hebrew University of JerusalemColumbia University Medical CenterMargiriss

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Prone To Stress? Soon, There Will Be A Blood Test For That Tue, 15 Mar 2016 12:23:18 +0000

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Is your life stressful? A breakthrough Israeli study could lead to the development of a blood test that would tell whether you’re prone to stress. The results could facilitate preventive or early intervention in professions prone to high stress or trauma, such as combat soldiers, firefighters and policemen.

SEE ALSO: Let’s Relax: Researchers Show Stress Leads To Increase In Autoimmune Diseases

Through genetic research and brain-imaging technologies, researchers from Tel Aviv University have determined that the brain function responsible for regulating our stress response intertwines with molecular regulatory elements to produce a personal profile of resilience to stress.

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry calls for rescue teams at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Our ability to cope with stress depends on how efficiently our body and mind regulate their response to it. Poor recovery from extremely stressful encounters can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or even chronic somatic dysfunction (such as pain and fatigue) in some people. Insight into the multi-level sequence of events — from cellular changes to brain function, emotional responses, and observed behavior — will help medical professionals make more informed decisions concerning interventions.

The biological complexity of stress

“We can’t look at one measurement at one point in time and think we have the whole picture of the stress response,” TAU’s Prof. Talma Hendler, who led the study, said in a statement. “This is perhaps the first study to induce stress in the lab and look at resulting changes to three levels of the stress response — neural (seen in brain imaging), cellular (measured through genetics), and experience (assessed through behavioral report).”

Brain - Technology News - Israel

According to TAU’s Dr. Noam Shomron, “vulnerability to stress is not only related to a predisposition due to a certain gene. The relevant gene can be expressed or not expressed according to a person’s experience, environment, and many other context-related factors.”

This type of interaction between the environment and our genome has been conceptualized lately as the ‘epigenetic process.’ “It has become clear that these processes are of an utmost importance to our health and wellbeing, and are probably, in some cases, above and beyond our predispositions,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Mom’s Stress During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Iron Levels

The research for this study was conducted on 49 healthy young male adults. Researchers integrated the analysis of fMRI images of brain function during an acute social stress task and also measured levels of microRNAs — small RNAs that exert potent regulatory effects — obtained in a blood test before and three hours after the induced stress.

According to TAU’s Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser, “20 minutes after the stress drill ended, we had two groups: The sustainers, those still stressed, and the recovered, those no longer stressed. The sustainers either didn’t go back to baseline or took much longer to do so.”

The researchers found that a specific alteration in the expression of miR-29c, a certain microRNA, was greater among the stress sustainers, implying a marker of slow recovery. Intriguingly, this change corresponded with modified connectivity of a major stress regulation node in the brain, the vento-medial prefrontal cortex.

Brain-guided treatment based on a blood test

“We all need to react to stress; it’s healthy to react to something considered a challenge or a threat,” said Hendler. “The problem is when you don’t recover in a day, or a week, or more. This indicates your brain and/or body do not regulate properly and have a hard time returning to homeostasis (i.e., a balanced baseline). We found that this recovery involves both neural and epigenetic/cellular mechanisms, together contributing to our subjective experience of the stress.”

Health News - Genome Compiler: Designing Life On your Computer

According to Hendler, “knowing the brain metric that corresponds to such genetic vulnerability will make it possible to develop a personalized plan for brain-guided treatment based on a blood test.”

Added Shomron: “If you can identify through a simple blood test those likely to develop maladaptive responses to stress, you can offer a helpful prevention or early intervention.”

The study, recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One, was led by TAU’s Prof. Talma Hendler and Dr. Noam Shomron. Research for the study was conducted by TAU’s Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser and Dr. Shira Modai.

Photos: Preston Keres

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Novel WoundClot Bandages Can Stop Severe Bleeding Within Minutes, Save Lives Wed, 09 Mar 2016 12:52:13 +0000

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Compression is one of the simplest ways to prevent severe bleeding, and yet it is not suitable in all cases, especially when the injured may have internal bleeding. Israeli-developed WoundClot bandages could offer a solution, saving lives within minutes – before the injured even reaches a hospital.

SEE ALSO: Portable Ultrasound Kit Will Expedite Medical Treatment, Save Lives In Disaster Areas

Developed by nano-materials specialist Dr. Shani Eliyahu-Gross of Core Scientific Creations, WoundClot is composed of a highly absorbent gauze made from regenerated cellulose (what plant cell walls are made of). When applied to a wound, this single-use, sterile bandage turns into a gel-state membrane, forming a stable membrane with the platelets (clotting blood cells) from the wound. By enhancing the natural process of coagulation, WoundClot stops hemorrhaging within minutes. Perhaps more importantly, the membrane lasts up for up to 24 hours.


According to the company, uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of death in battlefield and conflict zones, and the problem is twofold: Stopping the bleeding as quickly as possible, and ensuring that the body doesn’t further hemorrhage before reaching a hospital.

WoundClot provides a treatment for both issues, but also provides a solution in cases where compression is not effective or even damaging, such as stab wounds, head and neck traumas, or internal bleeding.

SEE ALSO: Israelis Invent New Wound-Closure Method

Yet, the most impressive feature of the bandage is that it breaks down in the body. “Our product is unique because it is bio-absorbable,” according to CEO Yuval Yaskil. “It means you want the product to break down, but also to have a very stable membrane. And that is basically the trick, or the patent that we developed.”

After the bleeding has stopped, the remaining residual membrane can be irrigated out of the wound safely without pulling on the soft tissue or the existing clot.

Priced at under $10 per bandage ($100 for larger surgical products), WoundClot is by far not the cheapest bandage on the market. But the company is aiming to replace other less effective products, even those with active ingredients intending to promote coagulation, which end up costing much more, according to Core Scientific Creations.

white blood cells

Photos: The US ArmyMilitaryHealthDLG Images

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Betalin Aims To End Insulin Injections By Treating Type 1 Diabetes With Cell Transplants Thu, 03 Mar 2016 08:06:55 +0000

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Of the 382 million people who have diabetes, only five to 10 percent have Type 1 Diabetes. However, unlike like Type 2 Diabetes, which can be prevented with regular exercise and a healthy diet, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Usually diagnosed in childhood, Type 1 Diabetes is traditionally treated with daily insulin injections, and though some prick-less therapies have surfaced, they have not achieved long-term insulin independence.

But Israeli biotech startup Betalin Therapeutics may change that, making insulin injections a thing of the past.

SEE ALSO: Intelligent Socks Paired With Smartphones Can Save Diabetics’ Feet

Kid self testing

Functioning as a gatekeeper, insulin is a hormone that enables sugar from consumed food to enter cells in the body. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications. Anyone who has Type 1 Diabetes needs lifelong insulin therapy, administered through daily shots or a pump because insulin typically cannot be taken orally due to interfering stomach enzymes.

SEE ALSO: Israelis, Palestinians Join Forces To Explore Local Flowers To Combat Cancer, Diabetes

However, the problem with both modes of treatment is that patients must monitor their blood sugar levels and administer the correct dose of insulin throughout the day. And even the most vigilant monitoring doesn’t prevent a sudden spike or drop in blood sugar levels. In other words, patients and doctors can only treat Type 1 Diabetes reactively.

type 1 diabetes

The new approach: Transplanting healthy tissue 

Some researchers have been looking for a more proactive and automated approach, namely through transplanting healthy pancreatic islets, the part of the pancreas that contains the insulin-producing “beta” cells, into diabetic patients. An islet transplant protocol developed in 2000 increased insulin-independence rates from about 15 percent to about 80 percent. However, within a few years, most patients became insulin dependent again; studies since then have recorded anywhere between 60 and 90 percent of patients becoming insulin dependent within five years.

Thus the problem is not how to achieve insulin independence, but rather how to maintain it. That’s where Betalin Therapeutics has a solution. Led Prof. Eduardo Mitrani of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Betalin’s research team has developed a “micro-scaffold” which ensures that a transplanted cell will remain close to sources of nutrients. Supported by these micro-scaffolds, “naked” islets function similarly to freshly dissected pancreatic islets.

“The micro pancreas aims at solving problems currently associated with transplantation of naked islets,” Prof. Mitrani said in a statement. “In our system, prior to transplantation, islets are cultured within a biological scaffold that supports their survival, leading to long-term functionality of the majority of the cells.”

In a study published last November, Mitrani and his team showed that their delivery method, what they term Engineered Micro Pancreas (EMP), provides more efficient and regulated insulin production compared to beta cells without micro-scaffolding.

In addition to supporting regulated levels of insulin secretion, the EMPs became readily supplied with blood vessels (i.e. oxygen). The researchers also grew and expanded beta cells in culture by three- to four-fold prior to incorporating them into EMPs without losing their functionality.


This could translate into using a much smaller number of islets, enabling physicians to treat a larger number of patients. “Furthermore, the fact that we have shown expansion of beta cells in the laboratory while still retaining beta cell functionality is a significant breakthrough that may allow [us] to utilize even less initial donors’ islets to treat individual patients,” Mitrani explained. He went as far as to suggest that EMP could also be used to treat severe, advanced levels of Type 2 Diabetes.

Mitrani carried out his research with Prof. James Shapiro, the researcher who developed the islet protocol in 2000. “We have been collaborating for the past two years,” Shapiro said in a statement. “If Betalin’s new micro-scaffold technique continues to demonstrate efficacy in vivo, it has the potential to substantially improve cellular survival both for islets and potentially for stem cell engraftment [stem cell reproduction] in future clinical applications.”

In other words, Mitrani’s micro-scaffolds could possibly be applied to other transplant therapies, including that of stem cells, which are currently being researched as a treatment for types of cancer, including leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma, as well as other blood diseases.

Photos: Frankie Leon; The Diabetes Foundation of MississippiThe Regents of the University of CaliforniaGiovanni Maki

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Understanding The Behavior Of Predatory Bacteria Could Generate An Alternative To Antibiotics Tue, 01 Mar 2016 13:40:33 +0000

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The majority of disease-causing bacteria in the body are rendered harmless by the protective effects of the immune system. Those that manage to escape the immune system can be killed by antibiotics, but bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to more and more antibiotics.

Now, Israeli scientists say that studying the predator-prey mechanisms of bacteria – or, their hide-and-seek game, if you will – could potentially generate alternatives to antibiotics.

SEE ALSO: This Remarkable Discovery Shows Why Bacteria Are Becoming Tolerant To Antibiotics

bacteria kit - health news

Their proposition is based on the study of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, a bacterial predator that is an efficient killer of other bacteria, such as the prevalent E. coli. It is present in soil and, just like E. coli, it can also be found in the human gut, where a complex ecosystem of bacterial inhabitants exists.

This ferocious bacterial predator enters its prey and devours it from the inside. It can reach speeds of 160 micrometers per second, making it the “world champion” in speed swimming and 10 times faster than the E. coli.

Future development of potential alternatives to antibiotics

“Knowledge of defense and attack mechanisms in bacteria is crucial for future development of potential alternatives to antibiotics,” Dr. Daniel Koster of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said in a statement. “B. bacteriovorus kills bacteria by a whole different mechanism of action than antibiotics, and as such, predatory bacteria might in the future constitute a viable alternative to these antibiotics.”

Koster led the research together with scientists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at TU Delft in The Netherlands. The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Predatory bacteria might be genetically modified to specifically target harmful bacteria”

In order to understand how E. coli is able to survive in the presence of such an effective predator, the researchers created two different environments for the B. bacteriovorus and E. Coli bacteria: The first one mimicked the features of soil, consisting of 85 tiny chambers, linked by a narrow channel; the second environment was an open space of a similar size, without the thin channel.

SEE ALSO: Researcher Discovers Protein That Could Replace Conventional Antibiotics

In the open environment, E. coli did not stand a chance to survive – most of the population was eliminated within a couple of hours. However, it proved surprisingly able to maintain a healthy population in an environment with many small chambers.

According to Koster, “groups of E. coli ‘hide’ in the many corners of the fragmented environment, where they readily stick as bio-films that probably protect them against B. bacteriovorus. Our findings provide important information because in natural environments, such as our gut, the bacterium also lives in fragmented spaces.”

petri dish

It is not yet known precisely how E. coli is able to defend itself against predatory bacteria, but the research contributes to the understanding of the behavior of the predatory bacteria, which could become a possible alternative to antibiotics in the future.

“In the future, predatory bacteria might, for example, be genetically modified to specifically target harmful bacteria, while leaving benign bacteria untouched,” Koster says. “As such, B. bacteriovorus might be more selective than the antibiotics currently in use, and anti-bacterial treatment might not require the widespread extermination of the gut flora that is of importance to human health.”

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‘Brain Movies’ Show Nicotine Affects Men And Women Differently Sun, 28 Feb 2016 11:21:24 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Addictions are hard to kick. Just ask all cigarette smokers who keep puffing away despite the boatload of evidence that they are killing themselves.

SEE ALSO: New Brain Stimulation Device Helps Smokers Quit

Now, new research being conducted in Israel shows that addictions work differently in women and men. A study being conducted largely in Israel by Evan Morris, an associate professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychiatry at Yale University, shows this clearly. In fact, Morris and his students have even made a movie out of it.

cigarette smoke

“Our dopamine movies show the effect of nicotine on the dopamine levels in the body, and those movies – which essentially show how the brain reacts when the chemical is released – show clearly that there is a difference in brain activity for men and women who smoke.”

Those findings are interesting, Morris told The Times of Israel, but the real point is to show “how short-term bursts of brain activity are prompted by chemical changes. This could have all sorts of implications for treating symptoms like PTSD and other stress-induced conditions, where there can be radical changes in brain activity for short periods of time.”

SEE ALSO: Researcher Says He Can ‘Erase’ Memory Of Addiction

Morris is a world-renowned expert on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging using tracer kinetic modeling to create functional images of the brain. He is in Israel on a Fulbright exchange program scholarship, which each year brings dozens of American researchers to Israel to work on innovative medical and technology projects in the Startup Nation for a year, while sending Israeli researchers to work in the US for the same amount of time.

“With PET, you can see how the brain changes – based on mathematical formulas – in response to induced changes,” said Morris. “One of the most difficult challenges facing researchers is developing models of short-term changes – changes in the brain that pass quickly, perhaps in just a few minutes or so.”

It’s clear that with a supercharged emotion taking over the body – anger, ecstasy, or anything in between – there are changes to the brain, “but generally researchers have been able to capture only changes that linger, with the imaging of the short-term changes unattainable.”

Brain - Technology News - Israel

To read the full article, click here

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It’s Official: Prolonged Cell Phone Use Leads To Lower Sperm Count Wed, 24 Feb 2016 12:33:58 +0000

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Men who talk on their cell phone for more than an hour a day double the risk of impairing their sperm count, according to a new Israeli study.

SEE ALSO: No More Pill? New Contraceptive Suppository Disables Sperm

In addition, the study has found that sperm levels of 47 percent of men who simply kept their phones in their pocket during the day were negatively affected. Speaking while charging the phone or sleeping next to it can also damage men’s sperm.


The study, conducted by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Israel’s Carmel Medical Center, supports previous findings that linked radiation from cell phones to lower sperm count.

Sperm quality is steadily declining in Western countries

Male sperm quality, which is steadily declining in Western countries, accounts for 40 percent of infertility problems among couples. Accumulated research knowledge on this subject shows that sperm quality is affected by congenital genetic factors, but also by environmental variables. One of them is the growing use of cell phones.

SEE ALSO: Combining Traditional And Chinese Medicine Boosts Fertility

According to the Technion, “many studies on the question of the connection between sperm quality and the radiation emitted by cell phones reached different and non-uniform conclusions, since they were carried out under different conditions (laboratory experiments on tissue, experiments in laboratory animals, etc.) and did not always address all the relevant variables.” But the new study “addressed a wide range of variables related to cell phone usage habits and sperm quality according to the parameters set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010.”

Take your phone out of your pocket 

The 106 men surveyed by the researchers were undergoing fertility evaluation at the hospital. The participants filled out detailed questionnaires that included questions on medical conditions that may affect sperm quality, but also questions about their cell phone usage: How much time the user spends on the phone each day, where he carries the phone, whether he makes or receives calls in areas with poor reception and while charging his phone, and so on.

The study results indicate clear causal connections, according to the Technion: Talking on a cell phone for over an hour a day, and talking on the phone when it is connected to a charger, double (from 33.3 percent to 66.7 percent) the likelihood of a decrease in sperm concentration. Sperm concentration also decreased to an abnormal level in men who carried the phone at a distance of less than 50 cm from the groin; an abnormal concentration was found in 47.1 percent of them, compared with just 11.1 percent in the total male population.

samsung in jeans pocket

“In light of the research findings, it is certainly recommended to shorten the duration of calls, not to carry the phone near the groin, not to sleep next to it, not to talk while it is being charged (in fact, it is better to turn it off while it is being charged) and to use a headset or hands-free kit whenever possible,” Dr. Ariel Silberlicht of Carmel Medical Center said in a statement.

The study was carried out as part of the doctoral work of Dr. Yulia Sheinfeld from the Technion Faculty of Medicine, under the guidance of Clinical Associate Professor Martha Dirnfeld, Director of the Fertility and IVF unit at Carmel Medical Center and a Clinical Associate Professor at the Technion.


Photos: Tim Parkinson

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Breakthrough Israeli Cancer Treatment Praised Worldwide Sun, 21 Feb 2016 13:30:17 +0000

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

A breakthrough cancer study in which patients suffering from a form of leukemia saw their diseases go into remission after they were treated with genetically modified T-cells has deep roots in Israel.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Find Why Leukemia Recurs After Successful Chemotherapy

One of the first in the world to work on the innovative adaptive immunotherapy technique to treat cancer, which was recently hailed worldwide as a potentially “extraordinary” development, was Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Zelig Eshhar.

cancer cells

Speaking Wednesday on Israel Radio, Eshhar said he was very heartened to hear about the results of the study at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I’m not surprised to hear about the results,” he said. “In our lab, we cured many rats and mice of cancer. I have been saying for years that we could do this in people, as well.”

In an article in the journal Science Translational Medicine, a team at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center and the Perelman School of Medicine reported that 27 out of 29 patients with an advanced blood cancer saw their cancers go into remission or disappear altogether when they received genetically modified T-cells that were equipped with synthetic molecules called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs. Those T-cells were able to target and destroy the tumor cells – specifically the ones that were responsible for the acute lymphoblastic leukemia the patients were suffering from.

According to officials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where the research was carried out, patients in the trial – some of whom were told in 2013 they had barely a few months to live – not only survived, but now, after the therapy, “have no sign of the disease.”

SEE ALSO: To Stop Cancer From Spreading: Shoot The Messenger

The therapy involves extracting T-cells – the white blood cells that fight foreign or abnormal cells, including cancerous ones. Under normal circumstances, T-cells try to fight cancerous cells – but because the body has been weakened by the cancer, the response is usually not strong enough to prevent the spread of cancer. In addition, cancer cells are genetically programmed to evade T-cells, said immunotherapy researcher and oncologist Dr. Stanley Riddell, one of the leaders of the study.

petri dish

To read the full article, click here

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Portable Ultrasound Kit Will Expedite Medical Treatment, Save Lives In Disaster Areas Mon, 15 Feb 2016 11:28:05 +0000

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Ultrasound imaging is one of the world’s most common medical tests. It is non-invasive, relatively inexpensive, it doesn’t involve exposure to ionizing radiation, and is considered risk-free.

But an ultrasound scan is typically done at the doctor’s office. So, what about patients in rural areas or disaster zones who can’t get to a clinic?

Israeli researchers are now developing a portable ultrasound system that transmits scans directly to physicians – immediately, from anywhere in the world. With such a system, ultrasound scans can be performed in developing countries with limited medical infrastructure, and the team at the site can be given medical instructions based on the findings.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups Revolutionizing Everyday Healthcare


This innovative ultrasound kit, which can also be used at the scenes of car accidents, was developed by Prof. Yonina Eldar’s lab at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The small, advanced probe eliminates the need for the large ultrasound devices that are used by clinics and hospitals.

Remote treatment for patients in developing countries

The probe acquires only the relevant data, which is then transmitted to a remote processing unit or cloud. The resulting image is then transferred to the treating physician’s smartphone or tablet.

SEE ALSO: By Improving Access To Basic Necessities, Israeli Technologies Transform Africa, Save Lives

Ultrasound is based on high-frequency sound waves that we cannot hear. During the examination, a probe that transmits sound waves is placed against the patient’s body, generating an image of the internal organs based on the pattern of the waves reflected back to the probe.

This technology is used in a wide variety of important medical tests: Assessing the condition of the fetus in utero, diagnosing conditions of internal organs, evaluating blood flow, diagnosing thyroid problems, cardiac examinations, detecting tumors and infections, and more.

At present, ultrasound examinations are performed at clinics and hospitals using a probe connected to a large, cumbersome and expensive ultrasound device. The results of the scan are collected by a computer and are interpreted by a radiologist, who sends the diagnosis to the patient’s doctor. This process might take several days, which could be critical in some cases.


Dramatically changing the nature of ultrasound

The Technion‘s new system dramatically changes the nature of ultrasound examinations.  First, with the new algorithm developed at the lab, the data can be reduced at the initial scanning stage, so that it can be uploaded to a cloud without harming image quality and without loss of data on the way. Second, the smaller probe eliminates the need for the large ultrasound devices currently used at most clinics.

Dr. Shai Tejman-Yarden, a cardiologist at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, explains that in the case of injuries, for example, the system “will provide doctors who are not at the scene with information in real time, enabling them to instruct the paramedic at the scene,” he said in a statement. “This development will also enable remote treatment for patients in developing countries, under the guidance of Israeli doctors.”


Photos: Philips Ultrasound, Greater Niagara Medical Imaging

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Intelligent Socks Paired With Smartphones Can Save Diabetics’ Feet Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:26:13 +0000

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Roughly 130 million diabetics around the globe suffer from diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage associated with the development of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Resulting from anatomical deformation, excessive pressure and poor blood supply, it often damages nerves in patients’ legs and feet.

SEE ALSO: Israelis, Palestinians Join Forces To Explore Local Flowers To Combat Cancer, Diabetes

Diabetic neuropathy is also the leading cause of amputation, which leaves many diabetics handicapped, and is costing the US economy alone more than $10 billion annually. Diabetic patients are encouraged to get regular checkups to monitor for the increased pressure and ulceration that can eventually require amputation. However, ulcers are only diagnosed after they occur, meaning that patients require healing time, which dramatically increases healthcare costs.

But now, an Israeli team of scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is working on a unique solution to solve this problem.


“This is a significant medical problem that affects the lives of millions. We thought there must be a way to avoid these wounds altogether,” Danny Bavli, the group’s lead engineer, said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Dario Turns Diabetics’ Smartphones Into Trendy Glucometers

To address this challenge, Bavli partnered with Sagi Frishman and Dr. David Morgenstern, a leading orthopedic surgeon at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center. Together with members of the Hebrew University’s BioDesign group, they developed SenseGO, a machine-washable sock containing dozens of micro-fabricated pressure sensors.

With SenseGO, changes in pressure due to incorrect posture, anatomical deformation or ill-fitting shoes are registered using electrical signals that are relayed to a smartphone app, which in turn informs the patient of developing risks.

According to Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, BioDesign’s program director, “this is a classic mobile health approach. By giving patients and their families the tools they need to prevent the development of ulcers, we can dramatically reduce healthcare costs related to diabetes.”

BioDesign: Medical Innovation, a multi-disciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation, is led by Nahmias and Prof. Chaim Lotan of the Hadassah Medical Center. Other members of the BioDesign SenseGO team include Inbal Boxerman and Yael Hadar, MBA students at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The innovations produced by program participants are commercialized by Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and by Hadasit, the technology transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Center.

SenseGO team

Photos: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Norwalk Hospital

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Why Studying Mosquito Habitats And The Evolution Of The Zika Virus Can Help Halt The Epidemic Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:22:03 +0000

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Since the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a “public health emergency of international concern” alert regarding the Zika virus, US President Barack Obama and other world leaders have called upon researchers to develop tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted virus. Less than a week later, Israeli scientists from Ben Gurion University and the University of Haifa responded with insights into the particular circumstances of this most recent outbreak and how the virus is evolving.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researcher’s Discovery May Pave Way For Malaria Vaccine

Since the 1940s, outbreaks of the Zika virus have been reported in Africa, the Americas and in parts of Asia. Spread through Aedes mosquito bites, the virus used to cause fever and joint pain. However, now, researchers have reason to believe that the most recent outbreak is closely linked to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain.

Aedes mosquito

Aedes mosquito

Over the past few months, hundreds of Brazilian women affected by the Zika virus gave birth to babies with microcephaly, leading several governments in Latin America to advise women to avoid pregnancy for the next two years.

SEE ALSO: Israel’s SightDx Detects Malaria In Blood In Only Three Minutes

This call-to-inaction is so extreme that Israeli universities are trying to gather findings that could stop the outbreak. Ben Gurion University’s Dr. Leslie Lobel has joined a much-needed international consortium in order to understand the risks and prevent the spread of the disease. “The Zika virus was discovered long ago, but not so much research has been done on it,” virologist Lobel tells NoCamels. The main goal now is to check if the pathology caused by the Zika virus is changing and, if so, why. “The correlation with microcephaly is still not clear,” he says.



Comparing Brazil to Uganda 

Lobel’s preliminary research focuses on the genetics of the virus, and on the differences between symptoms found in Ugandan and Brazilian patients. These differences could teach us about the evolution of Zika and lead researchers to a possible cure. In other words, virologists are trying to understand why before, the Zika virus only caused mild reactions such as fever, whereas now, it is believed to cause more severe symptoms such as microcephaly.

Lobel, an American-born virologist and physician, has worked on Zika together with Ugandan experts for 13 years and is now helping Brazilian authorities, since “it is very important to have a reference and compare the different cases”, he says. Funding for the research will likely come from the European Union, which sponsors several projects to advance medical research, some of them specifically addressed at preventing the spread of Zika.

However, Zika will not likely spread to Israel and many other parts of the world, Lobel estimates. “The insects that cause the virus don’t exist in Israel, and the ecosystem here does not represent an ideal environment for them to proliferate,” he tells NoCamels. “But we cannot foresee if the virus will change again in the future.”

Severe drought could have led to mosquito proliferation 

Meanwhile, preliminary findings from a study conducted at Israel’s University of Haifa could shed light on certain climates in which Zika-carrying mosquitos flourish. The study, led by Dr. Shlomit Paz in collaboration with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, has found correlation between exceptionally hot and dry winters and the Zika virus. The study was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet.

“The extreme temperature and drought in Brazil are due to a combination of the El Niño phenomenon and the climate changes of recent years,” Paz said in a statement. Her findings are based on data from the US agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They show that the latter half of 2015 saw the highest temperatures since records began, combined with severe drought. The Zika outbreak appeared in these areas over the weeks that followed.

Drought in Brazil

The Zika outbreak is linked to global warming

High temperatures (up to a certain limit) have provided a fertile breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes to reproduce. These mosquitoes also require water. Coincidentally, during periods of drought, local residents store water in containers, thereby creating a convenient habitat for the mosquitoes to proliferate.

The researchers are currently expanding the study in order to gain further insight into the precise nature of the correlation between climatic conditions and the outbreak of the disease. “In light of the health risk, and the fact that the Aedes mosquitoes also carry other viruses, it is important to address the impacts of climate when analyzing the causes of the current outbreak,” Paz concluded.

Photos: Muhammad Mahdi Karim, Planet Ark

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Israeli Researchers Develop Novel Method To Treat Aggressive Blood Cancers Tue, 02 Feb 2016 12:50:40 +0000

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With a median survival rate of just five to seven years, Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) is considered the most aggressive blood cancer, and despite the progress in genetic-based cancer treatments, researchers have yet to develop an effective method for treating this rare form of lymphoma.

SEE ALSO: Medical Breakthrough: Israeli Researcher Predicts Where Cancer Will Spread

However, a novel method developed in Israel successfully locates and blocks the reproduction of a cancer-related protein in white blood cells, suggesting that a cure for MCL, as well as other blood cancers, may be within reach. The study was led by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Dan Peer.


White blood cells in the blood stream

Gene silencers

“MCL has a genetic hallmark,” Peer said in a statement. “In 85 percent of cases, the characteristic that defines this aggressive lymphoma is the heightened activity of the gene CCND1.” When over-expressed, the CCND1 gene produces too much of a protein called Cyclin D1, sometimes 3,000 – 15,000 times too many.

To reduce and regulate protein production, Peer has been investigating an approach called siRNA, or small interfering RNA. A synthetic strand of RNA molecules, siRNA is basically a gene silencer, designed to specifically target a particular messenger RNA (RNA molecules that convey genetic information from the DNA to the ribosomes, where protein is produced) and disable its ability to express a specific gene.

In principle, any gene can be knocked down by a siRNA strand, and has thus drawn keen interest from geneticists and drug developers since its discovery in 1999. However, in practice, siRNA has shown different levels of effectiveness; some cells respond well, whereas others show no knockdown. Delivering siRNA to white blood cells has proven especially difficult because they are dispersed throughout the body, and have thus far been resistant to conventional siRNA strands.

SEE ALSO: Will IBM’s Super Computer ‘Watson’ Treat Cancer?

To better guide siRNA, researchers in Peer’s lab designed lipid-based nanoparticles (LNPs) coated with antibodies that specifically target the CCND1 gene. When loaded onto these LNPs, siRNA effectively induced gene silencing in MCL cells and prolonged survival of tumor-bearing mice with no observed adverse effects, the researchers found.

Personalized medicine

The drug developed in Peer’s lab points to the potential of personalized medicine in the treatment of cancers, which display wide genetic variety even within the same pathology. “MCL is a disease with a specific genetic hallmark, so you can sequence the patient to identify the mutation(s), and design RNA blockers to be placed inside a nano-vehicle,” according to Peer. “However, the delivery system can be used to accommodate any disease with a [known] genetic profile. This could be the future. We are seeing it happen before our very eyes.”

white blood cells

The research, whose results were recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, was led by Peer, and conducted by Ph.D. students Shiri Weinstein and Itai Toker, in collaboration with Prof. Pia Raanani of Israel’s Rabin Medical Center and Prof. Arnon Nagler of Sheba Medical Center. Peer’s laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Photos: Wellcome Images; The Franklin InstituteAlkhwarizmi Center for Bioinformatics

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Study: Post-Term Delivery Doubles Risk Of Complications For Newborns Thu, 28 Jan 2016 08:33:00 +0000

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While pregnancy is considered full-term at 40 weeks, only 5 percent of women actually give birth on their predetermined due date. That’s why most OBGYNs recommend more frequent and more vigilant monitoring after 40 weeks, and sometimes the artificial induction of labor. However, many pregnant women refuse induction due to the risk of stress to the fetus or increased likelihood of requiring a C-section.

But a new Israeli study provides evidence that the risks of not inducing labor at 42 weeks of pregnancy outweigh the risks to the baby if labor is not induced.

SEE ALSO: A Female’s Level Of Stress Before She Even Conceives Affects Her Offspring’s Genes, Study Shows


Conducted by Tel Aviv University researchers, the study has found that post-term deliveries, even among low-risk pregnancies, are associated with increased short-term risks to newborns, including illnesses and infections, which land them twice as frequently in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). The study isolates the post-term due date as a single, influential risk factor for the first time, according to the scientists.

The research was led by TAU’s Dr. Liran Hiersch and Prof. Nehama Linder, along with Dr. Nir Melamed of the Rabin Medical Center. It was recently published in the scientific journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Countering fear with fact

“There are women who refuse induction of labor, even more than two weeks past their due date,” Hiersch said in a statement. “Without the relevant data, it is difficult for doctors to convince them otherwise. Maybe now, with this research and further studies in hand, we can convince them that even though their pregnancies had experienced no complications — and they are being monitored, say, every three days — they’re potentially risking infection, illness and other unforeseen complications by refusing medical intervention.”

SEE ALSO: Stress During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Iron Levels

Hiersch and his team examined the records of all women who delivered babies at Israel’s Rabin Medical Center over a five-year period. They extracted the records of approximately 23,500 women with a single fetus and without pregnancy complications who delivered at 39-44 weeks of gestation. Then, they compared the neonatal outcomes of three groups: babies born at 39-40 weeks; babies born at 41 weeks; and babies born at 42 weeks and later (post-date pregnancies).

“Although previous studies demonstrated an increased risk of complications for newborns born in the post-term period, most of these studies included women with pregnancy-related complications, such as small fetuses, hypertension and diabetes,” Hiersch explains. “The isolated effect of the prolonged pregnancy could not be determined. For this reason, we included in our analysis only women with low-risk pregnancies in order to more clearly determine the effect of gestational age at delivery on neonatal outcome.”

The researchers only addressed women who gave birth to live infants; they found that infants born past 42 weeks had twice the risk of contracting infections, experiencing respiratory difficulties and being admitted to NICUs than those born at 39-40 weeks.

baby girl sleeping

A warning to new mothers: “Do not postpone delivery beyond 42 weeks”

“Our study implies that even in otherwise low-risk pregnancy, it is advisable not to postpone delivery beyond 42 weeks,” Hiersch warns. “Therefore, it is reasonable to offer induction of labor to women reaching that time of pregnancy and maybe a little earlier.”

In the study, the researchers addressed the complications that occur immediately following birth. They are now exploring a larger study that addresses whether post-term deliveries put infants at risk for developmental difficulties later in life.

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Study: Screening Smokers With Pneumonia Leads To Early Lung Cancer Detection, Prolongs Life Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:25:43 +0000

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality among both men and women in the US, and yet the disease is rarely diagnosed early. Now, a new Israeli study proposes that screening smokers admitted to the hospital with pneumonia could facilitate the early diagnosis of lung cancer and thereby save – or prolong – many lives.

SEE ALSO: Technion Creates Artificial Lung To Study Pollution Effects

The study, which was conducted by researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv University and Rabin Medical Center, was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal The American Journal of Medicine.

Lung cancer cell dividing

Lung cancer cell dividing

“Lung cancer is truly aggressive,” TAU‘s Dr. Daniel Shepshelovich, who led the study, said in a statement. “The only chance of recuperation is if it’s caught before it begins to cause any symptoms at all. The idea is to find the tumor well in advance.”

According to the researchers, “previous studies have shown that a low-dose radiation CT scan conducted once a year on heavy smokers has the potential to lower lung cancer mortality rates. But this requires huge resources, and we still don’t know how it will perform in real-world conditions, outside of strictly conducted clinical trials.”

Heavy smokers face greater risks 

Smoking causes approximately 85 percent of all lung cancer cases, only 15 percent of which are diagnosed at an early stage. Thus, Dr. Shepshelovich and his team examined Rabin Medical Center‘s cases of heavy smokers with community-acquired pneumonia — a form of pneumonia contracted by a person with little contact with the health care system. They reviewed every patient’s medical file for demographics, smoking history, lung cancer risk factors and the anatomical location of the pneumonia. The data was then crosschecked with the database at Israel’s National Cancer Registry for new diagnoses of cancer.

The researchers found that out of 381 admissions of heavy smokers with pneumonia between 2007-2011, 31 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer within a year of being hospitalized. Moreover, lung cancer incidence was found to be 23.8 percent higher in patients admitted with upper-lobe pneumonia. They also found that the lung cancer was located in the lobe affected by pneumonia in 75.8 percent of cases.

“We discovered that smokers hospitalized with pneumonia are diagnosed with cancer after the infection because often the cancer masquerades as pneumonia, physically obstructing the airway and creating such an infection,” Dr. Shepshelovich explains. “Considering that only 0.5 – 1 percent of smokers without pneumonia have a chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer every year, the fact that 8 percent of our study group developed lung cancer is alarming.”

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups Revolutionizing Everyday Healthcare

Tumor cells lining the alveoli, the tiny sacs within our lungs that allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to move between the lungs and bloodstream.

Tumor cells lining the alveoli, the tiny sacs in the lungs that allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to move between the lungs and bloodstream.

“Only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are detected at an early stage”

Existing diagnostic methods, such as chest X-rays, “sometimes find the cancerous tumors, but they do not change mortality rates,” he said. “In other words, people are aware that they have cancer for longer periods of time, but do not recover. This is not a solution.”

He continued to say that smokers admitted to the hospital with pneumonia should be considered for chest CT scans: “Only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are detected at an early stage. We want to increase that number in order to reduce mortality or, at the very least, extend lives.”

The researchers are currently considering a larger nationwide retrospective study on the subject.

Photos: Anne Weston, LRI, CRUK Wellcome Images; Yale Rosen, Pulmonary Pathology

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Burger And Fries, Anyone? Processed Foods Could Cause Autoimmune Diseases Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:08:18 +0000

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In today’s hustle and bustle world, processed foods are commonplace time-savers. But that convenience may come at a high price to one’s health; a new study suggests that the effects of processed foods might not be reversible.

In findings recently published in the scientific journal Autoimmune Reviews, researchers from Israel and Germany present evidence that processed foods weaken the intestine’s resistance to bacteria, toxins and other hostile elements, which in turn increases the likelihood of developing autoimmune diseases.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups Revolutionizing Everyday Healthcare

chocolate bar

The study was led by Prof. Aaron Lerner of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Dr. Torsten Matthias of the AESKU.KIPP INSTITUTE in Germany.

The research team examined the effects of processed food on the intestines, and on the development of autoimmune diseases – conditions in which the body attacks and damages its own tissues. More than 100 such diseases have been identified, including type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune hepatitis, and Crohn’s disease.


“In recent decades, there has been a decrease in incidence of infectious diseases, but at the same time there has been an increase in the incidence of allergic diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases,” Prof. Lerner said in a statement. “Since the weight of genetic changes is insignificant in such a short period, the scientific community is searching for the causes at the environmental level.”

In their study, the researchers focused on the dizzying increase in the use of industrial food additives aimed at improving qualities such as taste, smell, texture and shelf life, and found “a significant circumstantial connection between the increased use of processed foods and the increase in the incidence of autoimmune diseases.”

Many autoimmune diseases stem from damage to the functioning of the tight-junctions that protect the intestinal mucosa. When functioning normally, tight-junctions serve as a barrier against bacteria, toxins, allergens and carcinogens, protecting the immune system from them. Damage to the tight junctions (also known as “leaky gut”) leads to the development of autoimmune diseases.

SEE ALSO: Thirsty? ‘The Right Cup’ Turns Water Into Your Favorite Drink Using Scent – Not Sugar

The researchers found that several common food additives weaken the tight junctions: glucose (sugars), sodium (salt), fat solvents (emulsifiers), organic acids, gluten and microbial transglutaminase (a special enzyme that serves as food protein “glue”).

“Control and enforcement agencies such as the FDA stringently supervise the pharmaceutical industry, but the food additive market remains unsupervised enough,” according to Lerner. “We hope this study and similar studies increase awareness about the dangers inherent in industrial food additives, and raise awareness about the need for control over them.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 2.50.10 PM

The researchers also advise patients with autoimmune diseases, and those who have a family background of such diseases, to consider avoiding processed foods when possible.

Infographic: Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

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Symptoms Are Evolution’s Way Of Preventing Disease From Spreading, Study Suggests Thu, 14 Jan 2016 11:13:49 +0000

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When you have a fever, your nose is stuffed and your headache feels like it is spreading to your toes – your body is telling you to stay in bed. According to a new Israeli study, feeling sick is simply an evolutionary adaptation that aims to stop disease from spreading.

SEE ALSO: Hossam Haick’s Revolutionary Device Detects Deadly Diseases, Cancer, On The Breath

This hypothesis, put forward by Prof. Guy Shakhar of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and Dr. Keren Shakhar of the College of Management Academic Studies, is laid out in a recent paper published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology.

public health sick infection spread ill Sneeze

The symptoms that accompany illness appear to negatively affect one’s chance of survival and reproduction. So why would this phenomenon persist? Symptoms, say the scientists, are not an adaptation that works on the level of the individual; rather, they suggest, evolution is functioning on the level of the ‘selfish gene.’ Even though the individual organism may not survive the illness, isolating itself from its social environment will reduce the overall rate of infection in the group.

“From the point of view of the individual, this behavior may seem overly altruistic,” Dr. Keren Shakhar said in a statement, “but from the perspective of the gene, its odds of being passed down are improved.”

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups Revolutionizing Everyday Healthcare

In the paper, the scientists go through a list of common symptoms (mostly flu-like symptoms), and each seems to support the hypothesis. Appetite loss, for example, hinders the disease from spreading by communal food or water resources. Fatigue and weakness can limit the mobility of the infected individual, reducing the radius of possible infection. Along with the symptoms, the sick individual can become depressed and lose interest in social and sexual contact, again limiting opportunities to transmit pathogens. Lapses in personal grooming and changes in body language say: I’m sick! Don’t come near!

“Isolation is the most efficient way to stop a disease from spreading”

Some of the most extreme “sickness behavior” is found in such social insects as bees, which typically abandon the hive to die elsewhere when they are sick.

Environment News: Researchers Use Bee Hormones To Kill Pests While Protecting Bees

“We know that isolation is the most efficient way to stop a transmissible disease from spreading,” Prof. Guy Shakhar said in a statement. “The problem is that today, for example, with flu, many do not realize how deadly it can be. So, they go against their natural instincts, take a pill to reduce pain and fever and go to work, where the chance of infecting others is much higher.”

The scientists have proposed several ways of testing this hypothesis, but they also hope its message sinks in: When you feel sick, it’s a sign you need to stay home. Millions of years of evolution are not wrong.

Photos: CDCDiego Cupolo; Tim Vickers, moveboulder

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Sleepless Nights? Silent Partner’s ‘Smart Patch’ Could Help Reduce Snoring Sounds Mon, 11 Jan 2016 09:54:16 +0000

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Can’t sleep because your partner snores at night? Israeli startup Silent Partner has created a new device that could significantly reduce snoring noise.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 37 million Americans, both male and female, snore on a regular basis. Now imagine your partner is one of them and it’s 2:30 AM. Instead of getting frustrated and even angry, you will soon be able to use a small, horseshoe-shaped device to take away the noise.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Reveal What Lack of Sleep Does To Your Brain

Silent Partner has developed a lightweight and compact wearable device worn on your face, near your nose. It quiets the snoring noise by creating a “silent zone” around the person wearing it, giving their partner a better night’s sleep.

The device uses the previously developed Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology to muffle the sound of snoring before it spreads. To this existing technology, Silent Partner developers have added an innovative “sub-wavelength active noise cancellation” technique, which creates a more accurate noise-reduction zone around the snoring person, the company claims. The device starts at $59, and its battery is designed to last all night, according to Silent Partner.

This novel technology is based on the phenomenon of destructive interference, where sound waves of opposite amplitudes cancel each other out, resulting in a much lower sound. In other words, Silent Partner does not eradicate snoring; rather, it simply subdues the noise.

SEE ALSO: Study: Interrupted Sleep Is The Equivalent Of No Sleep At All

Unlike many other anti-snoring technologies, Silent Partner focuses on the noise rather than on the underlying medical issues that contribute to snoring. Other devices use positioning strategies to counter snoring. For example, competitor Nora detects snoring noises and then changes the position of your pillow to relieve snoring.

“Helping millions of people get a good night’s sleep”

Evidently, the crowds are fascinated with Silent Partner. The startup recently raised $262,548 during a one-month campaign on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo – more than six times its initial goal of $40,000.

This simple-to-use “smart patch” has been received with praise on Indiegogo, as it solves a universal problem that could cause tension between partners. American-Israeli entrepreneur Bob Rosenschein projects that Silent Partner is “going to help millions of people get a good night’s sleep,” according to Indiegogo.

Commenting on the significant demand for Silent Partner, co-founder Netanel Eyal tells No Camels: “We feel lucky that we can help a lot of people.”

silent partner

Last year, Eyal and co-founder Yoni Bazak (who met at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) started developing the idea for Silent Partner. Designed in Israel and manufactured in China, Silent Partner is expected to be ready for shipping in November 2016.

Here’s to quieter nights!

Photos and video: Courtesy

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