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, 22 Jun 2017 06:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mending Broken Hearts: Israeli Scientists Find The Molecule That Regenerates Heart Cells Mon, 19 Jun 2017 12:03:06 +0000

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, yet the few available treatments are still mostly unsuccessful once the heart tissue has suffered damage. Mammalian hearts are actually able to regenerate and repair damage – but only up to around the time of birth. Afterward, that ability disappears, seemingly forever.

Research at the Weizmann Institute of Science has uncovered a molecule in newborn hearts that appears to control the renewal process. When injected into adult mouse hearts injured by heart attacks, this molecule, called Agrin, seems to “unlock” that renewal process and enable heart muscle repair. These findings are already pointing to new directions for research on restoring the function of damaged hearts.

Human heart cells cannot regenerate

Prof. Eldad Tzahor, who led the study with Elad Bassat, Alex Genzelinakh and other team members in the Weizmann Institute’s Molecular Cell Biology Department, explains that following a heart attack in humans, the healing process is long and inefficient. Once damaged, muscle cells are replaced by scar tissue, which is incapable of contracting and thus cannot participate in pumping. This, in turn, leads to further stress on the remaining muscle and eventual heart failure.

SEE ALSO: Israel’s CollPlant To 3D-Print Human Organs Using Tobacco-Derived Collagen

Heart regeneration into adulthood does exist in some of our fellow vertebrates. Fish, for example, can efficiently regenerate damaged hearts. Closer relatives on the evolutionary tree – mice – are born with this ability but lose it after a week of life. That week gives Tzahor and his lab a time window in which to explore the cues that promote heart regeneration.

Looking for outside sources

Woman holding heartTzahor and Bassat believed that part of the secret might lay outside of the heart cells themselves – in the surrounding supportive tissue known as the extracellular matrix, or ECM. Many cell-to-cell messages are passed through this matrix, while others are stored within its fibrous structure. So the team began to experiment with ECM from both newborn and week-old mice, clearing away the cells until only the surrounding material was left, and then observing what happened when bits of the ECM were added to cardiac cells in culture. The researchers found that the younger ECM, in contrast to the older, elicited the proliferation of heart muscle cells.

A screening of ECM proteins identified several candidate molecules for regulating this response, among them Agrin.  In mouse hearts, levels of this molecule drop over the first seven days of life, suggesting a possible role in heart regeneration. The researchers then added Agrin to cell cultures and noted that it caused the cells to multiply.

Next, the researchers tested Agrin on mouse models of heart injury, asking whether it could reverse the damage. They found that following a single injection of Agrin mouse hearts were almost completely healed and fully functional, although the scientists were surprised to find that it took over a month for the treatment to impart its full impact on cardiac function and regeneration.  At the end of the recovery period, however, the scar tissue was dramatically reduced, replaced by living heart tissue that restored the heart’s pumping function.

SEE ALSO: Listen Up: Study Shows Your Voice Can Tell If You Have Heart Disease

In other words, Tzahor speculates that in addition to causing a certain amount of direct heart cell renewal, Agrin somehow affects the body’s inflammatory and immune responses to a heart attack, as well as the pathways involved in suppressing the scarring, which leads to heart failure. The length of the recovery process, however, is still a mystery, as the Agrin, itself, disappears from the body within a few days of the injection.

“Clearly this molecule sets a chain of events in motion” he says. “We discovered that it attaches to a previously unstudied receptor on the heart muscle cells, and this binding takes the cells back to a slightly less mature state – closer to that of the embryo – and releases signals that may, among other things, initiate cell division.” Experiments with mice that were genetically engineered to lack Agrin in their hearts further support this idea: In its absence, newborn mice could not properly regenerate heart tissue following injury. Because mice cannot live without the other functions of Agrin, this was a technically challenging experiment to perform, adds Tzahor.

Testing on human heart cells proves successful

The team then proved that Agrin has a similar effect on human heart cells grown in culture. He and his team are now working to understand exactly what happens in the period of time between the injection of Agrin and the return of full cardiac functionality. In addition, members of Tzahor’s team have started pre-clinical studies in larger animals in Germany in collaboration with Prof. Kupatt of the Technical University of Munich to determine the effect of Agrin on cardiac repair.

Among other things, the findings of this study have highlighted a role for the ECM in both directing heart growth and promoting regeneration, and this insight may help in the design of breakthrough biomedical research.

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‘X-Ray’ Vision: Vayyar’s 3D Sensor Can See Through Any Surface Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:30:49 +0000 Who didn’t watch Superman and wish they could see through walls? Now, thanks to Israeli technologies developed by startup Vayyar, what was previously confined to the realms of science fiction is becoming a reality.

Vayyar has developed sensors that can detect and visually display – in three dimensions – what lies on the other side of any surface. From detecting breast cancer cells through the skin, to finding people on search and rescue missions – this technology can change the way we interact with the world, and save lives.

SEE ALSO: Innovation Nation: Twelve Israeli Inventions That Are Changing The World

Designed to see through materials, objects and even liquids, Vayyar’s sensors look through known barriers to deliver 3D images. Its technology can see through skin and tissue to detect cancer masses, look through walls and create a 3D image of hidden structural foundations; or, it can be used to create a smart home that tracks the location of persons needing care, as well as their vital signs as they move around the house.

Its 3D sensors rely on antennae that are constantly sending out radio frequency signals to create a 3D map of the environment. The signals travel through objects, detecting their location, size, movement, and makeup.

Granted, radio frequency sensors have been around for a while; but Vayyar’s advantage comes from the quantity of antennae that can transmit and receive many signals at once, and the strength of the algorithms used to interpret the data. The startup packed these antennae into a compact, inexpensive system – which would be priced at a fraction of the cost of an MRI system – giving Vayyar an edge over other, more expensive and unwieldy technologies.

Screening for breast cancer

Their sensor could revolutionize the way illnesses such as breast cancer are detected. In contrast to MRI, x-ray, and ultrasound machines, which generally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are confined to specific screening locations, Vayyar’s sensors are small and cheap, and the breast cancer screening device they are developing could be used in general practitioners’ offices.

“A woman can comfortably hold [the screening device] in her hand, bring it to her breast, and in a matter of seconds, scan it to detect for malignant growths,” Malcolm Berman, director of product and marketing at Vayyar, tells NoCamels. “It uses non-ionizing radiation, so they could actually screen themselves every day.”

“A highly sophisticated radar system”

In addition to the healthcare sector, Vayyar’s tech can be useful in other fields: The sensors don’t rely on visual detection, which makes them a better fit for monitoring environments like bathrooms, where privacy is a concern, and burning buildings, where smoke would block the camera.

Walabot. A small black box containing the sensors magnetically attaches to the back of a smartphone, and connects to a mobile app.

Although there are other sensors that use radio frequency, such as those produced by international aerospace and defense company Raytheon, Vayyar claims to more effectively combine capability with low price.

“It’s a highly sophisticated radar system that’s been created at a fraction of the cost of other solutions,” says Berman. In fact, his team put the sensors into a consumer product called Walabot DIY, which is sold for $199.

A shift from businesses to consumers 

Initially, Vayyar worked only with other businesses, selling them sensors and developing products such as the breast cancer screening device. In April last year, the company entered the consumer market with Walabot DIY. The device uses Vayyar’s sensors to detect and display the location, size, and material of objects on the other side of walls, making it useful for builders and DIY home renovators.

The product is fairly intuitive to use. A small black box, about the size of a smartphone, contains the sensors. It magnetically attaches to the back of a smartphone, and connects to a mobile app currently available on Android devices.

The app provides a real-time visual feed: As you hold the device against the wall and move it over a metal pipe, a pipe-shaped object and text indicating that it is a metal pipe will appear on the phone screen. The app also has a map mode, which allows users to scan larger spaces, and to see a colored diagram of all the objects in that space. While the interface can seem a bit cryptic to new users, it doesn’t take long to figure out what different colors and shapes mean.

Walabot has proven popular: it sold out in the US, and though it only launched in Europe last month, it has already sold out of inventory twice. Earlier this year, it received much attention at CES 2017, the largest consumer electronics show in the world.

Founded in 2011 by Raviv Melamed, Naftali Chayat and Miri Ratner, Vayyar has so far raised $34 million from venture capital firms Amitai, Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Israel Cleantech Ventures and Walden Riverwood.

An imaging revolution

Vayyar’s sensor comes on the heels of another Israeli gadget that “sees through” objects – Scio, which scans objects and identifies their molecular makeup. SCiO is a tiny handheld scanner that can tell you whether an apple you want to bite into is fresh, what’s in the pills your doctor prescribed, how many calories are in your meal, or whether your plant needs more water.

Similarly, the applications of Vayyar’s sensors seem almost infinite. This year, the company will focus on smart homes, the automotive industry, and robotics. For example, the technology can monitor whether elderly people have fallen in the bathroom based on motion and breath detection, without using optical cameras to breach their privacy.

The applications for the automotive industry and robotics are also far-reaching. For example, the sensors can alert robots to where people are in relation to them, reducing injuries in industrial settings.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Nano-Sensor Can Sniff Out Explosives From 16 Feet Away

Vayyar has the potential to develop in many different directions, as its team is constantly updating the Walabot app with new features, as well as working with a range of business partners to integrate Vayyar’s sensors in new ways. Walls are no longer a barrier for this company, or for anyone using its sensors.


Photos and videos: Vayyar, Walabot, Superman

For Some, White Bread Is Healthier Than Whole Wheat Thu, 08 Jun 2017 07:42:22 +0000 White bread is among the processed foods known to contain “bad carbs.” But is whole-wheat bread really better for you? A new Israeli study shatters this myth.

Conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the study reveals that “wholesome” choices are not necessarily the healthiest for everyone. It all depends on the unique bacteria in our gut.

SEE ALSO: Is Sushi Healthier Than Ice Cream? Not Necessarily, Diabetes Researchers Say

Up to 40 percent of our diet

Bread accounts for about one-tenth of the calories many people in the West consume and up to 40 percent of the caloric consumption in some non-Western countries – more than any other food product. In the past few decades, since white bread has acquired a bad rep, bakeries have been going out of their way to produce high-quality whole grain breads.

But as it turns out, our individual microbiome – our specific intestinal microbes – will determine whether white bread is good or bad for us.

SEE ALSO: Diet Startup ‘DayTwo’ Creates Unique Personalized Diets By Checking Your… Gut Bacteria

In the study, recently published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, scientists compared two kinds of bread: One was industrial white bread made from refined wheat and considered less healthy; the other was sourdough-leavened bread made in an artisan bakery from freshly stone-milled whole grain wheat flour and baked in a stone hearth oven (it was prepared specially for the study and was assumed to possess superior properties).

The study’s 20 participants were divided into two groups and asked to consume large quantities of bread (supplying about a quarter of their caloric intake) for a week. One group ate the white bread, and the other, the sourdough bread. After a two-week break, they switched, and for a week the group that had previously eaten white bread ate the sourdough bread, and vice versa.

“No difference between the health effects of the two types of bread”

Tests revealed that eating bread of any kind affected the blood levels of sugar, minerals, liver enzymes and other substances. But when the scientists compared the effects of the two types of bread, they were surprised. “We were sure that the sourdough bread would come out a healthier choice, but much to our surprise, we found no difference between the health effects of the two types of bread,” Prof. Eran Segal, who led the study, said in a statement.

According to research team member Dr. Eran Elinav, that’s because “the body’s response to bread is a highly personal matter, so the differences among people in the study averaged themselves out.” His colleague Prof. Avraham Levy says: “We planned the experiment so that everyone would consume the same amount of available carbohydrates from both bread types. Because whole-wheat bread contains relatively fewer carbohydrates, this means that people ate more of it compared to the white bread. This difference in carbohydrate levels should also be taken into consideration when planning a diet.”

Which bread is better for you? It depends on your gut bacteria

The study further shows that about half of the participants had higher blood sugar levels after eating white bread, whereas the other half had higher blood sugar after eating sourdough bread. It is possible that these different responses were due to the differences in the individuals’ intestinal microbes – collectively known as the microbiome. The composition of the microbiome in the people whose response to white bread produced high blood sugar levels differed from that of the people who responded to sourdough bread with high blood sugar.

The scientists developed an algorithm connecting the microbiome’s composition with the person’s response to the type of bread. The algorithm was used to predict who will have high blood sugar after eating white bread, and who will have high blood sugar after eating the sourdough.

Additional researchers conducting this study include Tal Korem, Dr. David Zeevi, Dr. Omer Weissbrod, Noam Bar, Maya Lotan-Pompan, Dr. Tali Avnit-Sagi, Noa Kosower, Gal Malka, Michal Rein, Dr. Adina Weinberger, Dr. Niv Zmora, and Jotham Suez.

Photos and video: TiBineDaria Nepriakhina, Weizmann Institute

Israel’s CollPlant To 3D-Print Human Organs Using Tobacco-Derived Collagen Wed, 07 Jun 2017 06:20:05 +0000 Replacing human organs with printable ones may sound like science fiction, but research is currently being conducted on the transplantation of an artificial kidney, liver and even a heart.

Israeli biomed firm CollPlant recently established a new division that will 3D-print organs and tissues using a unique biological ink it is currently developing. CollPlant, a regenerative medicine company, is developing a collagen-based bio-ink intended for use in 3D printers that print organs, using various technologies. The company extracts the collagen from locally grown tobacco leaves.

CollPlant grows tobacco in greenhouses to produce ‘human’ collagen, which is used in the bio-ink that will eventually 3D-print tissues and organs.

According to Yehiel Tal, CollPlant’s CEO, over the past several months, “we have substantially ramped up our activities in the 3D printing field… The collagen protein is a key building block in connective tissues in the human body, and therefore is ideal for use as biological ink.”

He adds that the company’s product ‘rhCollagen’ is “suitable for use in humans, due to its superior homogeneity, its high safety profile and the fact that it does not cause an immunological reaction.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Nano Dimension 3D Prints Human Stem Cells

CollPlant is currently developing a number of formulations of biological ink for various indications, and is working with several large international companies, with the aim of collaborating on the development of organ and tissue printing. Ravit Levrann, a spokeswoman for CollPlant, tells NoCamels the company grows tobacco in greenhouses in order to produce ‘human’ collagen, which is used in the bio-ink that will eventually 3D-print tissues and organs.

122,000 Americans are waiting for organ transplants 

According to the National Kidney Foundation, nearly 122,000 Americans are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants (101,000 of these await kidney transplants). Thousands await liver and pancreas transplants, and the waiting list grows every year.

Several companies worldwide are working on 3D-printed organs that could replace human donations. The burgeoning 3D bio-printing market is expected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2022, and to increase substantially as the 3D-printing technology of organs and tissues continues to mature.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Find Key To Long-Term Preservation Of Organs For Transplant

Traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, CollPlant was founded in 1981 by Prof. Oded Shoseyov. In addition to its collagen-based bio-ink, the company develops bio-materials indicated for orthopedics, tissue repair products and advanced wound healing.

Photos and video: Courtesy

Groundbreaking Study Finds World Of Genetic Differences Between Men And Women Thu, 01 Jun 2017 05:29:50 +0000 In a groundbreaking study, Israeli researchers recently discovered 6,500 genes that differ between the sexes. This research could change the way diseases are treated in men and women.

The comprehensive study of sex-biased genes, conducted at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, shows that while these 6,500 genes are present in all humans, they are expressed (copied out to make proteins) differently in men and women.

The researchers, Prof. Shmuel Pietrokovski and Dr. Moran Gershoni, believe that their mapping of these differences will contribute to the development of novel medical treatments. “Our findings reinforce what scientists have come to realize in the past decade – that we have to analyze medical issues differently for men and women,” Pietrokovski tells NoCamels. “Before talking about the concept of personalized medicine, we can explore different treatments and medicines for men and women.”


The study, recently published in the scientific journal BMC Biology, was based on the scientists’ analysis of the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project, a large-scale study of human gene expression involving genetic data from 544 adult donors. “We took publicly available data for more than 50,000 genes from 544 adults across more than 50 tissues, and we looked across all these genes,” Pietrokovski explains.

For instance, the researchers identified a gene that is only expressed in the heart of women, and is also related to calcium uptake. This gene shows high expression levels in younger women, but they sharply decrease with age. The researchers believe that the decreased expression of this gene could contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and osteoporosis in older women.

The scientists also identified gene expression that is specific to women’s livers, which regulates drug metabolism. This finding provides further evidence for the known difference in drug processing between men and women.

Genes that lead to visible differences between the sexes

Some of these genetic differences lead to very visible physical differences. For example, the researchers identified genes that are more highly expressed in men’s skin than in women’s skin, and concluded that these genes are associated with the growth of body hair. Moreover, genes related to muscle building are more highly expressed in men, while those related to fat storage are more highly expressed in women.

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

The researchers also found that genetic mutations associated with infertility still exist in the human gene pool because these mutations are found in sex-biased genes, which are expressed only in men or in women. For instance, mutations in genes specific to sperm formation persist because these genes are only expressed in men. These mutations could still be carried by women and passed on to the next generation. The scientists then expanded their research to include genes that are not related to fertility, leading to the identification of thousands of sex-biased genes.

SEE ALSO: The Difference In Social Perception Between The Sexes

“Men and women undergo different selection pressures and, at least to some extent, human evolution should be viewed as co-evolution,” Pietrokovski says. “But the study also emphasizes the need for a better understanding of the differences between men and women in the genes that cause disease or respond to treatments.”

Photos: Jason Thomas, GeneG

Cannabis Can Reverse Aging Process And Enhance Brain Performance Wed, 31 May 2017 05:30:51 +0000 Memory performance decreases with age, but a new Israeli study suggests that cannabis can reverse these aging processes in the brain.

Scientists at the Hebrew University and the University of Bonn have shown that older mice were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged, low-dose treatment of cannabis. This groundbreaking study, recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Medicine, opens up new treatments for dementia.

young versus old aging - photo by East Foundation

Slowing down the aging of the brain 

Like any other organ, our brain ages. As a result, our cognitive abilities decrease with increasing age. Thus, it becomes more difficult to learn new things, or devote attention to several things at the same time. This process is normal, but can also promote dementia. Researchers have long been looking for ways to slow down or even reverse this process.

Israeli and German researchers have now achieved this in mice. With their short life expectancy (2-3 years), these animals display pronounced cognitive deficits even at 12 months of age.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Fight Alzheimer’s Disease 

The scientists administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, 12 and 18 months over a period of four weeks. Then, they tested learning capacity and memory performance in the rodents – including, for instance, orientation skills and the recognition of other mice.

Mice that were only given a placebo (the control group) displayed natural age-dependent learning and memory losses. In contrast, the cognitive functions of the animals treated with cannabis were just as good as the two-month-old critters in the control group.

“The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” the researchers said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Turning High-Tech Into ‘High’ Tech: Behind Israel’s Blooming Medical Cannabis Industry

THC imitates the effect of cannabinoids (the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis) produced naturally in the body, which fulfill important functions in the brain. “With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces; when the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain,” according to the research team.

To discover precisely what effect the THC treatment has in old mice, researchers at the Hebrew University, led by Dr. Mona Dvir-Ginzberg and the late Prof. Itai Bab, examined the changes in brains of aged mice treated with THC.

“The THC treatment induced molecular and epigenetic changes, which no longer corresponded to that of untreated old animals, but rather were similar to what we see in young animals,” Dvir-Ginzberg said in a statement.

Turning back the clock 

Moreover, the number of links between the nerve cells in the brain also increased again, which is an important prerequisite for learning ability. “It looked as though the THC treatment turned back the molecular clock,” the scientists say.

A low dose of the administered THC was chosen, so that there was no intoxicating effect in the mice. Cannabis products are already permitted as medications, for instance as pain relief. As a next step, the researchers wish to conduct a clinical trial to investigate whether THC also reverses aging processes in the brain of humans and can increase cognitive ability.

Photos: Bigstock, East Foundation

Israeli Scientists Predict Resistance Of Cancerous Tumors To Chemotherapy Tue, 30 May 2017 06:00:46 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

Chemotherapy is sometimes thought to be a treatment that’s harsher than the disease it comes to fight.

Cancer patients are subject to rounds of chemotherapy treatments in which cells – both healthy and cancerous are expected to be destroyed in the process.

So, it’s especially awful when the targeted tumors have cell mutations that are resistant to chemo or develop resistance afterwards, rendering the potentially harmful therapy ineffective and pointless.

Now, Hebrew University researchers say they have developed a way to predict resistance to chemotherapy treatments, which can help doctors and patients better target their treatments, and helping reduce the rate of resistance levels “dramatically,” from the current 50 percent.

cancer cells

NewStem, a new biotech company set up by Prof. Nissim Benvenisty of the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says it discovered and managed to harvest human pluripotent embryonic stem cells which have just one set of chromosomes — called haploid cells — as opposed to the diploid cells with two sets of chromosomes that are found in most human cells. These pluripotent stem cells have the ability to become any cell type, for example heart cells or brain cells.

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

Using these newly found and harvested haploid cells, the researchers created a so-called “cell line” in which a small number of cells are proliferated. They then mixed these cells with an existing genome-editing technique called Crispr Cas, which causes genetic mutations, managing to create a library with 180,000 mutations in 18,000 genes — or on average 10 mutations per gene.

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

“This would cover all relevant genes for therapeutic purposes,” said Ayelet Dilion-Mashiah, CEO of NewStem.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and illustrations: Yissum, Bigstock

Israeli Robots, Apps Aim To Make Aging Easier Thu, 25 May 2017 06:28:34 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

“Grow old along with me,” crooned John Lennon. “The best is yet to be.” But in reality growing old can be a painful, lonely journey.

Now, however, digital and robotic technologies being developed around the world bring the hope of making aging if not actually fun, then at least a lot easier, allowing elderly citizens to stay at home longer instead of being moved into an old age home and enabling families and caregivers track the health and whereabouts of their loved ones even from a distance.

SEE ALSO: Meet ElliQ, The Robot Even Your Grandparents Will Love

Elderly couple

“Aging is happening everywhere,” he said. “And 65-year-olds today are still active and independent and want to enjoy quality of life. Providing them with the services they need to do this is a huge opportunity for technology and healthcare companies and also for governments and municipalities.

SEE ALSO: Meet Eddy The Robot

“Because Israel is strong in digital technologies and digital health, it is in a good position to tackle challenges on this front as well, putting together its knowledge of sensors, artificial intelligence and big data, and channeling these into life sciences for the elderly. The idea is for technology to help keep you active and secure while you are alone at home.”

According to the United Nation’s 2015 World Population Aging Report, “virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons in their population.” And this increasing share of older persons in the population is set to become “one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century,” impacting nearly all sectors of society, including labor and financial markets, demand for goods and services, health and family structure.

From 2015 to 2030 the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56 percent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion, and by 2050 the global population of older persons is projected to more than double its size in 2015, reaching nearly 2.1 billion, according to data from World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, also of the United Nations.

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Intuition Robotics / ElliQAlex Knight

Rare Genetic Defect May Lead To Cancer Drug, Israeli Researchers Say Tue, 23 May 2017 07:48:32 +0000 The path to understanding what goes wrong in cancer could benefit from a detour through studies of rare childhood diseases.

Cancer generally involves dozens – if not hundreds – of mutations, and sorting out the various functions and malfunctions of each may be nearly impossible. Rare childhood diseases, in contrast, generally involve mutations to a single gene. According to Israel’s Weizmann Institute, children with rare genetic syndromes may serve as a “lens” when trying to understand the role of a specific gene in a complex disease such as cancer.

Dr. Ayelet Erez and her colleagues recently tested the protein citrin and found that blocking this protein might slow the progression of some cancers.

Lung cancer cell dividing

A cancer cell dividing

Erez, a geneticist and medical doctor who treats families with genetic cancer in addition to heading a research lab at the Weizmann Institute, is a researcher in the new field of “cancer metabolism,” which seeks to understand how the uncontrolled metabolic processes in cancers might be turned against them to stop their growth.

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

She and her team studied cells from children suffering from an extremely rare disease, citrullinemia type II, who are missing the gene for a protein called citrin. Clinically, children with this disease tend to be smaller than average. Erez’s research revealed that this protein normally helps keep the body supplied with an amino acid called aspartate which is required to produce DNA and RNA in addition to the breakdown of glucose; so deficiency in this protein causes the cells to divide less.

Cancer cells rely on aspartate to divide and migrate

Research into another genetic childhood disease, citrullinemia type I, had already given the team the lens they needed to understand how cancer cells rely on aspartate to divide and migrate. Children born with this disease are missing a gene called ASS1; the lack of ASS1 connects the disease to particularly aggressive, hard-to-treat cancers in which this gene tends to be silenced or mutated.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company That Turns Tumors Into Ice Balls Now Sets Its Sight On Lung Cancer

Since this gene also requires aspartate to function, Erez and her team concluded that the silencing had less to do with the gene’s function and more with competition for aspartate and the cancer cells’ craving for ever more of this amino acid to help them divide and spread. Interestingly, the dependence on citrin for aspartate supplementation is seen in cancers both with and without ASS1 expression.

A lack of the protein citrin slows children’s growth; blocking it in cancer slows tumor growth

The team then realized that citrin – the protein that helps regulate childhood growth – could present a possible target for anticancer therapies. Blocking this protein would hopefully disrupt the  cancer’s overactive metabolic cycle, diminish the cancer cells’ aspartate supply and slow their growth, thus making them less aggressive, less likely to spread and possibly more treatable with other, conventional means.

To that end, Erez and her group have been developing a molecule to block citrin, and testing it in the lab. Yeda Research and Development, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science, is working with Erez to advance her research to the point that it can be developed for biomedical application.

Photos: Bigstock

Cannabis Could Treat Traumatic Brain Injury, Israeli Researchers Say Sun, 21 May 2017 10:25:42 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

Our body’s cannabinoid receptor system may play a part in protecting our nervous system following trauma, Israeli researchers believe.

A team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found that rats and mice subjected to traumatic brain injury (TBI) showed significantly better recovery when treated with cannabinoid compounds, possibly opening the way for clinical trials in the near future.


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds, either derived from cannabis or manufactured, that act on specific cannabinoid receptors in our body’s cells. The most well-known is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive compound. The endocannabinoid system, our body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, is found in the brain and most organs of the body, and is believed to be a part of the neuroprotective mechanism in mammals, said Prof. Esther Shohami of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

When an external event like stroke or trauma occurs, the body responds by producing these molecules that should protect the brain, Shohami said. In previous studies, the researchers looked at the endocannabinoid 2-AG in mice following a traumatic brain injury. 2-AG is produced by the body naturally, but in relatively low amounts that are not enough to effectively protect the brain.

The researchers noticed that 2-AG levels were significantly higher following trauma, although they weren’t sure why. “A high level doesn’t mean anything, what matters is what it’s there for,” Shohami said.

SEE ALSO: Turning High-Tech Into ‘High’ Tech: Behind Israel’s Blooming Medical Cannabis Industry

They administered additional plant-derived 2-AG to mice following a brain injury, and found that the compound helped the mice recover. “It is administered by the brain but it’s not enough to protect the brain, so we had to augment,” Shohami said. “The brain creates protection; we wanted to mimic what the brain does, and we wanted to do it better.”

SEE ALSO: Study: Cannabis May Relieve Parkinson’s Related Pain

The mice only received a single dose, but showed positive effects up to three months after the injury. 2-AG’s main effect is as an anti-inflammatory compound, Shohami said.

“The outcome of trauma was better, the motor function, the cognitive function,” Shohami said. “All the parameters we looked at as part of the damage were affected by the 2-AG, and were better than the untreated mice.”


To read the full article, click here

Photos: Unsplash, Pixabay

Using Israeli Tech, Hadassah Surgeons Perform World’s First-Ever Dual Robotic Surgery Sun, 30 Apr 2017 11:37:08 +0000 The world’s first dual robotic surgery was performed last week at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, Israel. The 42-year-old patient who underwent the procedure will be able to walk again after a heavy steel frame had fallen on him.

The revolutionary dual robotic surgery, performed on April 23, repaired of a severe spinal fracture suffered by Aharon Schwartz, a factory worker who was injured when a steel object pinned him to the ground, fracturing his leg in two places and breaking six of his spinal vertebrae.

The pioneering, three-hour surgery took place in a state-of-the-art, $30 million operating room, according to Dr. Meir Liebergall, chairman of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s orthopedic department. Two robots, Siemens’ Artis Zeego and the Renaissance Guidance System, were involved in the surgery. Renaissance is a screw placement system which allows spinal implant placement with safety and accuracy, and was developed by Israeli company Mazor Robotics.

The robotic operating room at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel

According to Hadassah’s president Ellen Hershkin, “the world’s first dual robot-assisted spinal surgery solidifies Hadassah’s reputation for world-class medical innovation and treatment.”

SEE ALSO: Revolutionizing The World Of Surgery

Mazor Robotics’ guidance systems enable surgeons to conduct spine and brain procedures in a precise manner. Founded in 2001, the company’s intuitive interface helps surgeons plan operations in a virtual 3D environment, creating a surgical blueprint for better accuracy.

Mazor Robotics’ Renaissance Guidance System for spine surgery

Transforming spine surgery into a highly accurate procedure

According to Mazor Robotics, the Renaissance Guidance System “transforms spine surgery from freehand procedures to highly accurate, state-of-the-art procedures that may reduce fluoroscopy – even for minimally-invasive surgery, scoliosis, and other complex spinal deformity cases.”

The Siemens Artis Zeego robotic technology “enables smoother, swifter and trouble-free patient positioning and execution procedures,” according to Hadassah.

SEE ALSO: Inspired By Israeli Air Force Simulators, Former Pilots Develop 3D Simulator for Surgeons

Amal Khouri, director of Hadassah’s Orthopedic Hospitalization Center, provided real-time, 3D imaging during the surgical procedure, which eliminated the need for pre-surgery CT scans and post-surgery X-rays.

During the minimally invasive surgery, Mazor’s Renaissance robot communicated with Artis Zeego, while senior orthopedic surgeon Dr. Josh Schroeder led the Hadassah orthopedic team in the insertion of 11 pedicle screws into the patient’s spine “with clinical exactitude,” Hadassah says.

According to Liebergall, the patient is expected to completely recover from the surgery and will be walking again shortly.

Innovative platform for surgery born at the Technion 

The story of Mazor Robotics began at the Technion – Israel’s Institute of Technology. The company was officially founded by Prof. Moshe Shoham and Eli Zehavi, but the work had begun years earlier with Shoham, the head of the Robotics Laboratory at the Technion, conducting research to develop an innovative platform for surgery.

Photos: Hadassah, Bigstock, Siemens, Mazor Robotics

A Cure For Crohn’s Disease? Israeli Entrepreneurs On Quest To Whip Gut Bacteria Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:36:38 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

Two kibbutz dwellers turned investment bankers and now entrepreneurs are on a quest to bring relief to patients who suffer from debilitative gastrointestinal diseases, including ulcers and Crohn’s disease, by tackling bacteria they believe to be at the root of the ailments.

SEE ALSO: Diet Startup ‘DayTwo’ Creates Unique Diets By Checking Your… Gut Bacteria

The biotech company founded by Dror Ben-Asher and Ori Shilo, RedHill Biopharma, which is traded both in Tel Aviv and on the Nasdaq, is conducting late-stage clinical trials for several drugs, including two that aim to tackle Crohn’s disease and H. pylori, the bacteria that is the root of ulcers and a major cause of gastric cancer.


RedHill also has a pipeline of other advanced clinical-stage experimental medications in the works, as a way to spread out risk, and has recently entered into an accord with Concordia Pharmaceuticals to promote Donnatal, a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome in the US.

Last week, the company said it signed an exclusive license agreement with US firm Entera Health for the exclusive rights to a commercially available medical food, EnteraGam, for the management of chronic diarrhea which must be administered under medical supervision.

SEE ALSO: Could Personalized Diets Prevent Diabetes And Heart Disease?

The two US accords will help the company generate revenues and RedHill is currently setting up its US commercial infrastructure and salesforce, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, as it waits for its other products to ripen and get the potential approvals needed from the US FDA.

Kibbutz duo-turned-entrepreneurs

Ben-Asher and Shilo are childhood friends who grew up in Givat Brenner, a kibbutz two kilometers south of Rehovot that grows cotton, avocado, wheat and corn. It also overlooks a soothing earth-red hill, sun-drenched and dotted with green shrubs, that became the inspiration for the name of their company.,

Kibbutz Givat Brenner

Ben-Asher and Shilo are not scientists. Their background, prior to founding RedHill in 2009, is in finance and investments. Ben-Asher, who served in an elite air force commando unit, went on to get law degrees in Oxford and Harvard focusing on pharmaceutical industry related topics, and then decided to set up the business.

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Meridian Research, DayTwo, Amos Meron

Keeping Your Cool: Looking At Photos Of Cold Scenes Can Improve Self-Control Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:51:21 +0000 We’ve all told ourselves to “keep our cool” or “not get overheated” at some point or another, but can simply looking at a photograph of a cold, wintery scene do the trick?

Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU) have demonstrated that the perception of cold temperatures elicits greater cognitive control, even from a photo.

SEE ALSO: New Device Destroys Breast Tumors With Extreme Cold

winter, snow

Cognitive control allows your mind to override your impulses and helps you make decisions based on your goals, rather than your habits or reactions. Cognitive control enables you to make choices that maximize your long-term best interests. For example, when a person is very hungry and sees a sandwich but does not eat it, they are exhibiting cognitive control.

Measuring the effects of the perceived temperature

Metaphorical phrases like “coldly calculating,” “heated response,” and “cool-headed” actually have some scientific validity, according to lead researcher Dr. Idit Shalev of BGU. “Previous research has focused on the actual effect of temperature on the psychological phenomenon known as ‘cognitive control,’ but this is the first time we were able to measure the effects of perceived temperature,” she said in a statement. 

The study, entitled Keep it Cool: Temperature Priming Effect on Cognitive Control Research, was recently published in the journal Psychological Research.

Imagining yourself in a cold climate

In the study, Shalev and her team of researchers conducted two experiments. In the first, 87 students performed an “anti-saccade task” (saccade is a rapid movement of the eye between fixation points), which requires looking in the opposite direction of a moving object and measures cognitive control.

In the second experiment, 28 female students were asked to perform the same anti-saccade task, but this time were asked to physically imagine themselves in a picture of winter scenery, a temperature-neutral concrete street or a sunny landscape depicted as the background image in the test.

Example of a screen in the anti-saccade test

The results indicated that those viewing the cold landscape did better, and that even without a physical trigger, cognitive control can be activated through conceptual processes alone,” Shalev says. 

The researchers also examine the possibility that there is a common explanation for the relation of temperature and cognitive control with social proximity. “While warmth signaling promotes a relaxed attitude, cool signals alertness and a possible need for greater cognitive control,” the study concludes.

Photos: Ben-Gurion University, Pixabay

Shining A Light: Glowing Bacteria Helps Find Hidden Landmines Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:14:06 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they may have found a way to remotely detect unexploded landmines by using a combination of lasers and molecularly engineered bacteria that glow in proximity to the explosives.

Buried landmines, which injure or kill 15,000-20,000 people each year, emit tiny quantities of explosive vapors which accumulate in the soil above them. This observation prompted the Hebrew University researchers, led by Prof. Shimshon Belkin of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, to use bacteria that emit a fluorescent signal when they come into contact with these vapors to detect the mines.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Develop Microscopic Robot That Detects Disease Inside Cells

They enclosed the bacteria in small polymeric beads, which were then scattered across the surface of a test field in which real antipersonnel landmines were buried. Using a laser-based scanning system, the test field was remotely scanned and the researchers were able to determine the location of the buried explosives.

About half a million people around the world suffer from mine-inflicted injuries and more than 100 million such devices are still buried in over 70 countries. The major technical challenge in clearing minefields is detecting the mines. The technologies used today are not much different from those used in World War II, requiring detection teams who risk life and limb by physically entering the minefields.

SEE ALSO: Video Shows Bacteria Evolving Into Super Bugs

Accidents involving landmines occur in Israel once every few years and landmines laid in the 1950s and 1960s contaminate the Arava Valley, areas along the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War. The landmines have largely been demarcated by a network of fences and warning signs.

Luminous microbial beads demonstrate the fluorescent signal produced by the bacteria (Courtesy: Hebrew University)

To read the full article, click here. 

Photos: Hebrew Universtiy

Israeli Wearable Tech ‘Upright GO’ Improves Posture, Reduces Upper Back Pain Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:21:03 +0000 Roughly 50 percent of the labor force in the US suffers from head, back or neck pains, which negatively impact their ability to work, costing American employers about $7 billion annually. With so many of us sitting at our desks for hours every day, poor posture has become an epidemic, leading to widespread backache and other ailments.

According to Israeli startup Upright Technologies, back pain relief starts with good posture. And that’s why its wearable posture “trainers,” which discreetly attach to your back, train you to stand and sit upright. Every time you slouch, they gently vibrate, reminding you to correct your posture.

The company’s newest gadget, “Upright GO,” comes with a mobile app that tracks your progress and offers customizable training programs. Contrary to the startup’s first product (Upright PRO), Upright GO is much cheaper ($59 versus $130); it is lighter and more discreet; and it’s designed to reduce neck and upper back pain, as opposed to the PRO, which focuses on the lower back.

Upright GO, a small biofeedback posture trainer placed directly over the spine, is attached to the upper back with a reusable hypoallergenic adhesive. It is worn while sitting, standing, walking or driving. Using sensor technology and learning algorithms, the device senses subtle changes in posture, and vibrates to give users real-time posture feedback.

“Poor posture looks bad, and can lead to decreased confidence and back pain,” Oded Cohen, founder and CEO of Upright Technologies, said in a statement. “For the past three years, our team has been working to develop a habit-forming solution to conquer the modern epidemic of screen slouch.”

In tracking mode, it can be worn to accurately track and record the user’s posture data while moving throughout the day, so they can see the improvement in their posture over time. Users can view their progress on the iOS and Android app by checking their stats, history and usage.

“An intuitive habit”

Custom training plans gradually train the upper back and shoulder muscles to build muscle memory, strength and awareness, with just 10-60 minutes of daily training. Ultimately, users maintain an upright position on their own.

“Everybody talks about problems related to poor posture, but little is done to improve the situation. This is where we can help,” Cohen says. “By training for less than one hour a day, the body, muscles, and mind form an intuitive habit of sitting and standing after only 2-3 weeks.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Wearable Device MotionCure Relieves Motion Sickness In Minutes

Founded in 2012 by Oded Cohen and Ori Fruhauf, the 13-empployee Upright Technologies already ran a successful crowd-funding campaign three years ago, raising $155,000 on Indiegogo, more than doubling its original goal of $70,000. Immediately thereafter, the startup sold 1,700 units to customers around the world – and realized they had hit something big.

Last month, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising $528,000 in 1.5 months, 21 times its original goal. The campaign runs through May 10, with the product expected to ship this summer.

SEE ALSO: Wearable Device Livia Promises To ‘Turn Off’ Menstrual Cramps, Alleviate Period Pain

Studies have shown direct links between slouched posture and aches, as well as long-lasting effects on spine health, blood flow, and more. But while existing posture devices physically position the back into a straight position, “which isn’t habit-building,” according to the company, Upright GO works to gradually train your upper back, so eventually you will be able to maintain an upright posture on your own and only use the wearable device as a reminder.

While several clinical trials are ongoing in the US and in Israel, Upright is pending an FDA approval. However, according to a study recently conducted by Upright and Ernst & Young, after a few weeks of consistent training with the device, E&Y Israel employees improved posture and decreased back pain. As a result, more than half of the participants felt more productive and alert while at work.

Upright Technologies recently won the first-place award at the MEDICA App Competition for Best Medical Mobile Solution. The competition was part of one of the world’s largest medical trade fairs. Last year, Upright presented at CES, the largest tradeshow of consumer electronics in the world, held in Las Vegas. So far, the company has raised $3 million from investors.

These funds could potentially help the company affect the health of millions, and have far-reaching benefits. Says Cohen: “Improved posture can result in more focus and productivity at work.”

Photos and video: Courtesy

Tel Aviv U. Insulin Study: Diet, Exercise Help Prevent Dementia Sun, 23 Apr 2017 09:49:14 +0000 While a healthy diet and regular exercise are well-known keys to good physical health, a decade long Israeli study on insulin now shows that they are also vital factors in cognitive performance.

A new Tel Aviv University (TAU) study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease finds that insulin resistance, caused in part by obesity and physical inactivity, is also linked to a more rapid decline in cognitive performance. According to the research, both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance experienced accelerated cognitive decline in executive function and memory.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists To Test New Treatment For Alzheimer’s

Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin. The resistance prevents muscle, fat, and liver cells from easily absorbing glucose. As a result, the body requires higher levels of insulin to usher glucose into its cells. Without sufficient insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to prediabetes, diabetes, and other serious health disorders.

“These are exciting findings because they may help to identify a group of individuals at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age,” Prof. David Tanne of Tel Aviv University  said in a statement. “We know that insulin resistance can be prevented and treated by lifestyle changes and certain insulin-sensitizing drugs. Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance and, as a result, protect your brain as you get older.”

A two-decade study

The scientists followed a group of nearly 500 patients with existing cardiovascular disease for more than two decades. They first assessed the patients’ baseline insulin resistance using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA), calculated using fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. Cognitive functions were assessed with a computerized battery of tests that examined memory, executive function, visual spatial processing, and attention. The follow-up assessments were conducted 15 years after the start of the study, then again five years after that.

SEE ALSO: Israelis Discover Clear Link Between Diabetes And Parkinson’s Disease

The study found that individuals who placed in the top quarter of the HOMA index were at an increased risk for poor cognitive performance and accelerated cognitive decline compared to those in the remaining three-quarters of the HOMA index. Adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors and potentially confounding factors did not diminish these associations.

“This study lends support for more research to test the cognitive benefits of interventions such as exercise, diet, and medications that improve insulin resistance in order to prevent dementia,” Prof. Tanne said in a statement. The team is currently studying the vascular and non-vascular mechanisms by which insulin resistance may affect cognition.

The study was led jointly by Prof. David Tanne and Prof. Uri Goldbourt and conducted by Dr. Miri Lutski, all of TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine.

Prof. Tanne

Prof. David Tanne of Tel Aviv University

Photos: Tel Aviv University, Pexels

World Health Day: Israel Ranked 9th Healthiest Country Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:46:21 +0000 Soon after it was reported that Israelis are (still) among the happiest people in the world, a new study confirms that Israel is also among the top 10 healthiest.

The study, published ahead of tomorrow’s World Health Day, observed annually on April 7th,  ranks Israel in 9th place out of 163 countries in terms of overall health.

SEE ALSO: Happy Nation: Israel Ranked 11th Happiest Country For Fourth Year In A Row

Israel: Good access to doctors, high blood pressure

The Bloomberg Global Health Index gives Israel an overall “health score” of 92.47, based on factors such as quality of care, access to doctors, number of hospital beds, availability of medication, and life expectancy. On the other hand, Israel lost points (4.33) because of health and lifestyle problems, including overeating, and health risks ranging from high blood pressure and tobacco use to malnutrition and the availability of clean water. Israel’s overall score was 88.14, ahead of nearly all of Europe, and far ahead of the U.S., which placed only 34th in the rankings, with a score of 73.05.

50 Healthiest Countries

Most Healthy: Italy

With a score of 93.11, Italy took the top spot as the world’s healthiest country, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia. Spain, Japan and Sweden ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively. At the ninth slot, Israel outranked all other Middle Eastern countries, as well as many larger countries including France (14), Germany (16), New Zealand (19), Britain (23) and South Korea (24).

According to the report, the reason Italy won is that Italians are in much better shape than Americans, Canadians and Brits, who all suffer from higher blood pressure and cholesterol and poorer mental health. The U.S., meanwhile, despite its wealth of health care, is “one of the world’s heaviest nations,” and as such cannot be considered “healthy.”

The key to Italy’s top ranking may be their diet, which is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and red wine. Several studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with reduced aging, a healthier brain, more weight loss, and a lowered cancer risk, among other benefits.

SEE ALSO: Mediterranean Diet Is Better For Your Heart Than Taking Statins

Major challenge: Obesity

According to the report, obesity is a prime risk in the developed world. The U.S. prevalence of overweight people is 67.3 — tipping the scale as one of the world’s heaviest nations. Obesity is also a major problem in Israel, particularly among the country’s children.

However, Bloomberg’s list is not the final word on which nations are truly the most healthy, or unhealthy. Within each nation, the growing disparity between rich and poor means that while some families have access to the best health care and the freshest foods, many others do not.

The study came on the heels of the results of another survey published on the occasion of World Happiness Day (celebrated annually on March 20th), in which Israel was ranked the 11th happiest nation out of 165 countries.

Pictures: Bloomberg, Pixabay

A Fear-Free World? Israeli Scientists Succeed In Erasing Memory Of Fear In Mice Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:24:38 +0000 Erasing traumatic memories sounds like science fiction, but Israeli scientists have now managed to erase the memory of fear in mice. If humans erase unwanted memories from their brains in the future, films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could become reality.

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

In a study conducted at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, researchers succeeded in shutting down a neuronal mechanism by which memories of fear are formed in the mouse brain. After the procedure, the mice resumed their earlier fearless behavior, “forgetting” they had previously been frightened.

“This research may one day help extinguish traumatic memories in humans – for example, in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the researchers said in a statement.

Cognifit Is A Gym To Train Your Brain

According to lead researcher Dr. Ofer Yizhar, “the brain is good at creating new memories when these are associated with strong emotional experiences, such as intense pleasure or fear. That’s why it’s easier to remember things you care about, be they good or bad; but it’s also the reason that memories of traumatic experiences are often extremely long-lasting, predisposing people to PTSD.”

SEE ALSO: The Memory Of Starvation Stays In Your Genes For Three Generations

In the study, Yizhar’s team examined the communication between two brain regions: the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala plays a central role in controlling emotions, whereas the prefrontal cortex is mostly responsible for cognitive functions and storing long-term memories.

Previous studies suggested that the interactions between these two brain regions contribute to the formation and storage of averse memories, and that these interactions are compromised in PTSD; but the exact mechanisms behind these processes were unknown.

In the new study, the researchers first used a genetically-engineered virus to mark those amygdala neurons that communicate with the prefrontal cortex. Next, using another virus, they inserted a gene encoding a light-sensitive protein into these neurons. When they shone a light on the brain, only the neurons containing the light-sensitive proteins became activated.

These manipulations, in the field of optogenetics – a technique extensively studied in Yizhar’s lab – enabled the researchers to activate only those amygdala neurons that interact with the cortex, and then to map out the cortical neurons that receive input from these light-sensitive neurons.

Once they had achieved this precise control over the cellular interactions in the brain, they turned to exploring behavior: Mice that are less fearful are more likely to venture farther than others. They found that when the mice were exposed to fear-inducing stimuli, a powerful line of communication was activated between the amygdala and the cortex. The mice whose brains displayed such communication were more likely to retain a memory of the fear, acting frightened every time they heard the sound that had previously been accompanied by the fear-inducing stimuli.

“Alleviating the symptoms of fear and anxiety”

Finally, to clarify how this line of communication contributes to the formation and stability of memory, the scientists developed an innovative optogenetic technique for weakening the connection between the amygdala and the cortex, using a series of repeated light pulses. Indeed, once the connection was weakened, the mice no longer displayed fear upon hearing the “scary” sound. Evidently, “tuning down” the input from the amygdala to the cortex had destabilized or perhaps even destroyed their memory of fear.

Yizhar says his research, recently published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, is focused on a fundamental question in neuroscience: How does the brain integrate emotion into memory? “One day, our findings may help develop better therapies targeting the connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, in order to alleviate the symptoms of fear and anxiety disorders.”

Now let’s just hope these brain-erasing capabilities won’t fall into the wrong hands.

Photos: Coral Gables Art Cinema/Universal Studios

Israeli 3D Printing Technology Helps Surgeons Separate Conjoined Twins Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:41:23 +0000 From 3D-printed shoes to 3D-printed cars, 3D technology is changing everything around us, even the medical world. An Israeli company has developed innovative software for 3D printing anatomical models that enable doctors to plan and practice in advance of complicated surgery using a 3D model that matches the anatomy of the patient. This innovative technology can even help them prepare for extremely complex operations, such as separating conjoined twins.

The company behind the software is Israel’s Simbionix, which 3D Systems bought for $120 million three years ago. At a recent medical conference, Colorado-based 3D Systems exhibited this new Israeli development, which allows doctors to print in three dimensions the organ or limb on which they are about to perform a surgical procedure and study it while holding it.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Nano Dimension 3D Prints Human Stem Cells

MacDonald Twins, twins joined at the head

“As complicated as it gets”

Perhaps the most phenomenal application of this Israeli technology is in helping separate conjoined twins. Jadon and Anias McDonald were born joined at the skull and shared blood vessels. Last fall, when they were 13 months old, they were finally separated during a 27-hour operation performed by doctors at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York, supported by 3D Systems technologies and training sessions.

The remarkable surgery was made possible thanks to a dedicated team that included several members of 3D Systems’ healthcare division, who were present in the operating room for the surgery, along with nearly 40 other healthcare professionals.

Using medical scans and imaging of the twins, 3D Systems was able to create 3D models to facilitate planning of the complex procedure. The surgery was performed by Dr. James Goodrich, who has told the media “this is about as complicated as it gets.”

Custom devices tailored to the patient’s anatomy

Another example of a surgery that can apply this innovation is aneurysm repair, which can be done as an open operation or by using a minimally invasive technique where surgeons introduce tools through the femoral arteries in the groin and eventually place a stent-graft to repair the aneurysm.

During the course of the implantation, surgeons must pay great attention to maintain blood flow to vital arteries that originate from the abdominal aorta. The procedure becomes more complex when the aneurysm involves arteries to the kidneys and intestines. In such cases, stent-graft repair requires the use of custom devices tailored to a patient’s anatomy.

Improving safety 

“Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the US,” Susan Vetrone of 3D Systems tells NoCamels. “Our goal is to improve patient safety through advanced medical education.”

Combining 3D printing and healthcare, this project was spearheaded in Israel, but is “used by renowned surgeons in the US,” she says. It showcases “how our training tools help prepare future surgeons.”

3d printing software for surgeons

3D models used in classes 

Dr. Jean Bismuth of Houston’s Methodist Hospital and Dr. Jason Lee from Stanford University Medical Center have long been collaborating on teaching vascular surgery trainees. Their insight and experience were key to developing a complex training course which was brought to life by the 3D printed models created by 3D Systems.

SEE ALSO: 3D Printing: How The Technology Brings Energy And Hope To The Third World

According to Bismuth, “in the future, we hope to train and practice these procedures using pre-operative CT information as a tool for deciding how to most efficiently operate on a particular upcoming patient.”

Course attendees practiced the procedure, as it is performed in the OR, using a 3D printed model based on patient CT

Practicing the procedure using a 3D printed model based on a patient’s CT

3D Systems can also combine 3D printed models with virtual reality (VR) medical simulators, which creates a one-of-a-kind blended reality experience for surgical training and planning, which can be personalized based on patient-specific data.

Photos: 3D Systems/Simbionix, Christine Pogliano GrossoThe Children’s Hospital at Montefiore

Sweet Dreams: New Cannabis Sleep Aid Developed In Israel Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:56:55 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

American pharmaceutical company CannRx and accelerator iCAN: Israel-Cannabis have partnered to launch a sleep aid, called ican.sleep, made from cannabis extracts. The product will be the first pharmaceutical-grade cannabis formulation for sleep on the market, and could be a boon for the pharmaceutical industry in Israel, said Bill Levine, the executive chairman of CannRx Technologies.

The product will consist of a precise cannabis formulation that will be inhaled by users for a rapid onset. The formulation will also determine the duration of users’ sleep.

“You take a puff or two, depending upon the dosage, and basically within ten minutes you’ll be drowsy enough to sleep,” Levine said. “We can give you a predictable, dose dependent response every single time.”

Sleeping woman

The companies announced the new product at the CannaTech medical cannabis conference in Tel Aviv this week. CannRx and iCAN plan to launch the sleep supplement globally following patent trials this year.

SEE ALSO: Research: Small Quantities Of Marijuana Protect Against Brain Damage

Similar, existing products are meant to be swallowed and are unpredictable, since medical cannabis products tend to be hard to control, Levine said.

The sleep aid could provide an inroad to the US market, said Saul Kaye, founder and CEO of iCAN.

SEE ALSO: Turning High-Tech Into ‘High’ Tech: Behind Israel’s Blooming Medical Cannabis Industry

Israel’s progress in successfully medicalizing and controlling cannabis was a common theme at the CannaTech conference, which is meant to highlight the innovation and normalization that is happening with medical cannabis in Israel, Kaye said.

“We’re doing more research in Israel than anywhere else. We have destigmatized better than other places, and we have an approach to medicalizing cannabis, rather than legalizing cannabis,” Kaye said.


To read the full article, click here

The Secret To Eternal Life? Hydras Know Where To Regrow Lost Body Parts Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:25:02 +0000 Hydra, a small freshwater animal, knows exactly where to regenerate lost body parts, and its “trick” could someday be used to regenerate human muscles, a new Israeli study suggests. And, if the hydra can infinitely regenerate itself, perhaps it knows the secret to immortality.

Until recently, it was thought that hydras – small, tentacled animals that can literally be shredded into pieces and regrow into healthy animals – use chemical signals to regenerate body parts, but researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology now suggest that hydras have structural memory that guides the regeneration of cells in the right direction.

Recently published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, the study suggests that pieces of hydras have structural memory that helps them shape their new body plan according to the pattern inherited by the animal’s “skeleton.” Previously, scientists thought that only chemical signals told a hydra where its heads or feet should form.

SEE ALSO: Parasite Genetically Related To Jellyfish Could Defy Everything We Know About Animals

Hydras use a network of tough, stringy protein fibers to align their cells. When pieces are cut or torn from hydras, this pattern (called “cytoskeleton”) survives and becomes part of the new animal. The pattern generates a small but potent amount of mechanical force that shows cells where to line up.

This force can serve as a form of “memory” that stores information about the layout of animal bodies. When pieces of hydra begin the regeneration process, the scraps of hydra fold into little balls, and the cytoskeleton has to find a balance between maintaining its old shape and adapting to the new conditions.

Hydra attached to a substrate

“If you take a strip or a square fragment and turn it into a sphere, the fibers have to change or stretch a lot to do that,” the study’s senior author, biophysicist Kinneret Keren of the Technion, said in a statement.

However, some portions retain their pattern. As the little hydra tissue ball stretches into a tube and grows a tentacle-ringed mouth, the new body parts follow the template set by the cytoskeleton in fragments from the original hydra. The main cytoskeletal structure in adult hydra is an array of aligned fibers that span the entire organism. Tampering with the cytoskeleton is enough to disrupt the formation of new hydras, the researchers found. In many ways, the cytoskeleton is like a system of taut wires that helps the hydra keep its shape and function.

Regenerating human muscles?

In one experiment, the researchers cut the original hydra into rings which folded into balls that contained multiple domains of aligned fibers. Those ring-shaped pieces grew into two-headed hydras. However, anchoring the hydra rings to stiff wires resulted in healthy one-headed hydras, suggesting that mechanical feedbacks promote order in the developing animal.

SEE ALSO: Smart Plant Drugs Birds Into Forgetting Their Bitter Taste

Hydras are much simpler than most of their cousins in the animal kingdom, but the basic pattern of aligned cytoskeletal fibers is common in many organs, including human muscles, heart, and guts. Studying hydra regeneration may lead to a better understanding of how mechanics integrate with biochemical signals to shape tissues and organs in other species.


Photos and video: Technion, Frank Fox

Miracle Pill: A Decade On, Israeli-Designed Drug Gleevec Still Battles Leukemia And Saves Lives Wed, 15 Mar 2017 11:41:14 +0000 Just 15 years ago, the prognosis for someone diagnosed with myeloid leukemia (CML) was extremely bleak. But now, thanks to a decade-long study on an Israeli-designed drug, that’s no longer the case.

Sam Fields, a Jewish-American professional hockey player, was diagnosed with CML in 2003 at the age of 27.  At the time, his doctors told him he only had two weeks to live. “They gave me a death sentence,” Fields said in an interview.

Amazingly, Fields, who is now 40-years-old, has been cancer free for almost 15 years. He attributes his being alive today to Gleevec, a cancer drug which was still in an experimental phase in 2003 when he first started taking it, but which has now come full circle.

SEE ALSO: Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk Of Childhood Leukemia, Study Shows

Mel Mann was a 37-year-old major in the U.S. Army with a wife and a five-year-old daughter when he was diagnosed CML and given three years to live. In August 1998, Mann was one of 20 patients that started the Phase I clinical trial for the drug STI571, now known as Gleevec. The drug was approved by the FDA in 2001 and Mel is still taking the drug today, making him one of the longest living Gleevec patients.

An 11-year study, 83.3% survival rate

Dr. Brian Druker, who led the original clinical development of Gleevec, co-authored the worldwide study which included 1,106 participants at 177 cancer centers in more than 16 countries. The study, published in the March 9th edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that Gleevec keeps chronic CML at bay a full decade into treatment — with no signs of additional safety risks.

The story really begins  back in 2001, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) granted priority review for imatinib mesylate, sold under the name Gleevec, as an oral therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML.

The nearly 11-year long follow-up study showed an estimated overall survival rate of 83.3 percent. According to the National Cancer Institute, prior to Gleevec’s 2001 FDA approval, fewer than 1 in 3 CML patients survived five years past diagnosis.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Find Why Leukemia Recurs After Successful Chemotherapy

“The long-term success of this treatment confirms the remarkable success we’ve seen since the very first Gleevec trials,” Dr. Druker, director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research in the OHSU School of Medicine, said in a statement. “This study reinforces the notion that we can create effective and non-toxic therapies.”

Gleevec: Shutting down cancer cells without harming healthy ones

The discovery of Gleevec ushered in the era of personalized cancer medicine, proving it was possible to shut down cells that enable cancer to grow without harming healthy ones.

Gleevec was the first drug on the market to directly target the cancer-causing cells in CML, while leaving healthy cells alone. Fast-tracked through clinical trials and approved by the FDA in 2001 for treatment under certain circumstances, Gleevec held out the promise of turning a fatal disease into a manageable condition. Time magazine even put the drug on its cover and dubbed it a “bullet” against cancer.

Inspired by Israelis

Gleevec was in fact invented in the 1990’s by biochemist Nicholas Lyndon, although it’s success is most often attributed to Dr. Druker, who pioneered its use for the treatment of CML.

But Druker’s work was built on groundbreaking scientific research carried out in the 1980’s by an Israeli researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Professor Eli Canaani, working together with visiting American hematologist Robert Gale. At Canaani’s lab in Israel, he and Gale were the first to discover that when two key genes had a deviation in which they swapped pieces of genetic material, the result was a fused protein that triggered the cancer.

Gleevac, Time magazine

“This was the first demonstration that a cancer-specific DNA rearrangement joins two specific genes and causes a fusion of their encoded proteins to form a cancer protein,” Canaani said in a statement.

Eli Canaani

Prof. Eli Canaani of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science

The abnormal fusion, known as the Philadelphia translocation or Philadelphia chromosome, results in a gene called BCR-ABL. Gleevec works by inhibiting the fusion of the BCR and ABL genes.

Until Canaani’s discovery, doctors knew about the binding of the two genes, but had not understood its significance.

“Along came Eli Canaani and Robert Gale, and they showed that a new gene that isn’t present in any normal cell is actually created. It then became apparent to everybody in the field that this new gene could be driving the formation of the cancer cells,” Druker explains.

“If Dr. Brian Druker is the father of Gleevec, then Professor Eli Canaani is the grandfather,” Eric Heffler, national executive director of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, a charity that supports cancer research in Israel and funded Canaani’s research said.

He shoots, Gleevec scores

Hockey player Fields was very straightforward when talking about the option of taking Gleevec.

“I had two choices,” Fields said in a recent interview. “I could quit or I could fight, and I wasn’t about to quit. If this is the only shot I have, why not try it and die than not try it and die?”

For Fields and Mann, and many others. it ended up saving their lives.

Photos and video: Israel Cancer Research Fund, Courtesy

3D Virtual Reality Therapy Could Help Repair Damaged Limbs, Israeli Study Finds Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:32:09 +0000 A combination of traditional physiotherapy and cutting-edge technology may improve the motor skills and mobility of an impaired hand by letting the more mobile hand “lead by example” through virtual reality training, a new Israeli study suggests.

Typically, patients suffering from hemiparesis — the weakness or paralysis of one of two paired limbs — undergo physical therapy. “But this therapy is challenging, exhausting, and usually has a fairly limited effect,” Prof. Roy Mukamel of Tel Aviv University, who led the research, said in a statement. “Our results suggest that training with a healthy hand through a virtual reality intervention provides a promising way to repair mobility and motor skills in an impaired limb.”

SEE ALSO: Virtual Reality Therapy To Treat Fear Of Flying

physiotherapy, hands

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

As part of the study, 53 healthy participants completed baseline tests to assess the motor skills of their hands, then strapped on virtual reality headsets that showed simulated versions of their hands. The virtual reality technology, however, presented the participants with a “mirror image” of their hands — when they moved their real right hand, their virtual left hand would move.

In the first experiment, participants completed a series of finger movements with their right hands, while the screen showed their “virtual” left hands moving instead. Next, participants placed motorized gloves on their left hands, which moved their fingers to match the motions of their right hands. Again, the headsets presented the virtual left hands moving instead of their right hands.

The research team found that when subjects practiced finger movements with their right hands while watching their left hands on 3D virtual reality headsets, they could use their left hands more efficiently after the exercise. But the most notable improvements occurred when the virtual reality screen showed the left hand moving while in reality the motorized glove moved the hand.

Tricking the brain

“We effectively tricked the brain,” Mukamel says. “We manipulated what people saw and combined it with the passive, mechanical movement of the hand to show that our left hand can learn even when it is not moving under voluntary control.”

SEE ALSO: DouxMatok Tricks Your Brain

According to the researchers, this research could be applied to patients in physical therapy programs who have lost the strength or control of one hand. “We need to show a way to obtain high-performance gains relative to other, more traditional types of therapies,” Mukamel says. “If we can train one hand without voluntarily moving it and still show significant improvements in the motor skills of that hand – we’ve achieved the ideal.”

The researchers are currently examining the applicability of their novel VR training method to stroke patients.


The study was conducted by Prof. Roy Mukamel of TAU’s School of Psychological Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, along with his student Ori Ossmy. It was recently published in Cell Reports.

Wake Up! Daydreamers More Likely To Suffer From Sleep Deprivation Mon, 13 Feb 2017 12:04:25 +0000 A new experiment performed on Israeli Air Force jet pilots reveals a new personality trait that predicts who is more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation. The study’s results are crucial to recruiters of professionals who are required to function well in extreme situations, such as pilots, combat soldiers and firefighters.

According to Ben-Gurion University researchers, people who tend to daydream, get absorbed in reading a book or watching a movie to the point of ignoring their surroundings are those who will feel more tired as a result of sleep deprivation and will have a harder time returning to full alertness even after an eight-hour night of sleep.

IAF pilot preparing for a flight

IAF pilot preparing for a flight

The researchers – led by BGU‘s Dr. Nirit Soffer-Dudek and Major Shirley Gordon of the Israeli Air Force – contend that a personality trait called “dissociative absorption” is key.

“Dissociative absorption is the tendency to involuntarily narrow one’s attention to the point where one is oblivious to the surroundings,” the researchers explain. “It involves a temporary lack of reflective consciousness, which means that the individual may act automatically while imagining vividly, bringing about confusion between reality and fantasy.”

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


There is a vast professional literature about the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, including its effect on mood, cognitive function, and motor function. At the same time, “there have been very few studies that identified who would be especially affected by sleep deprivation,” according to BGU. “This study is the first to posit and identify the role of dissociative absorption.”

“Especially crucial to people who must function in extreme situations”

The question of who is more affected by sleepiness is relevant to the general population, but it is “especially crucial when it comes to people who must function in extreme situations with very little sleep, such as pilots, combat soldiers, professional drivers and others,” Soffer-Dudek and Gordon said in a statement.

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

The research team conducted experiments on IAF pilots and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) officers (those who operate military drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles). As part of their training, pilots and RPA officers participated in a four-day seminar exposing them to the subjective and objective effects of fatigue. The purpose was to emphasize the importance of adhering to an orderly and sufficient sleep routine during operational activity.

“People who tend to daydream have difficulty regulating the transition between different states of consciousness and transitioning between different awake and sleep states,” says Dr. Soffer-Dudek. “Therefore, any disruption to their sleep-wake cycle generates an especially strong shakeup of their system, and the person has a harder time fighting off sleepiness.”

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry

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

The study, recently published in the scientific journal Consciousness and Cognition, is the initial publication on this topic; the researchers hope that this personality trait may be instrumental in sorting people for key roles in the future.

Photos: Hernan Sanchez, IDF

Listen Up: Study Shows Your Voice Can Tell If You Have Heart Disease Sun, 12 Feb 2017 12:32:46 +0000 The common expression,”I can hear it in your voice” is most often said during phone calls. It’s uttered when one side in the conversation picks up on how the other side is really feeling based on verbal clues. Now an Israeli company is taking emotional voice analysis to a whole new level with technology that can detect heart disease just by listening to us talk.

Beyond Verbal, an Israeli startup which makes voice recognition software to analyze human emotion, has announced the results of a new study on Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) patients, conducted together with the Mayo Clinic. The research, presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, shows that voice analysis can be used to identify the presence of CAD by establishing a strong correlation between certain voice characteristics and CAD. The study represents a significant breakthrough in this field, proving that there is a connection between distinct voice features and health conditions, which can significantly improve continuous monitoring and reduce remote healthcare costs.

CAD: The most common, and deadly, heart disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can’t get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts’ blood supply, causing permanent heart damage. Over time, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure means the heart can’t pump blood well to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart.

When screening for the disease, there was a great need for simple and noninvasive tests that could also improve the accuracy of risk estimation models. This is where Beyond Verbal realized they could use their technology to provide unique insight. In the past, Beyond Verbal has found voice signal characteristics that can be associated with various conditions such as Autism and Parkinson’s. The company then joined forces with the Mayo Clinic in order to research this same concept with CAD patients.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Is About To Get Emotional With Beyond Verbal’s ‘Moodies’ App

Beyond Verbal, Beyond Verbal Team

CEO Yuval Mor (2nd from right) with the Beyond Verbal Team

A 19-fold increase

After conducting the double blind study, which included 120 patients referred for elective coronary angiography and corresponding control subjects, one voice feature was shown to be associated with a 19-fold increased likelihood of CAD. This is the world’s first study to suggest a link between voice characteristics and CAD, and holds the potential to assist physicians in estimating the pre-test probability of CAD amongst patients with chest pain.

“A patient’s voice is the most readily available, easy to capture, and rich output the body offers,” Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal said in a statement. “We are very excited to be able to work with Mayo Clinic on such a breakthrough research, studying the potential of using the human voice in healthcare monitoring and specifically CAD.”

2.5 million voice samples on file

Beyond Verbal has recently announced the availability of the Beyond mHealth Research Platform to facilitate the global collaboration between hospitals, research institutes and universities in the research to find vocal biomarkers. Founded in 2012 by Yoav Hoshen and Yuval Mor, Beyond Verbal has collected more than 2.5 million emotion-tagged voice samples in more than 40 languages to analyze human emotions, and secured their technology with multiple granted patents. Working off the concept that vocal intonation can provide significant insight into the inner-workings of human beings, the company is expanding its research on the connection between vocal intonations and health issues. The company has raised $10.1 million in funding in total.

Beyond Verbal plans to repeat the experiment in China and Israel to determine if the same correlation will show up in different languages. They will also test for any voice characteristics linked to other cardiovascular diseases.

The future: Diagnosis by voice recording?

Beyond Verbal’s CEO suggests that in the future doctors could diagnose medical conditions remotely by analyzing patients’ voice recordings.

“The idea eventually is to give people an app so we can check on them and tell them if everything is OK,” Mor told the New York Daily News. “We are opening the door for something completely new that can make a huge difference in the medical community.”

Beyond Verbal, CAD, Heart disease, voice

Photos: Beyond Verbal

How Israel’s 3D Printing Industry Is Paving The Way To The Future Mon, 06 Feb 2017 09:24:42 +0000 The future has arrived. The ability to create a three-dimensional object using a simple printer is a reality in today’s world.

Merely three decades after 3D printing was invented, Israel is already the manufacturer of roughly 40 percent of all 3D printers worldwide, Ziv Sadeh, VP sales at Israeli 3D printing company Su-Pad, tells NoCamels.

The prices of these printers vary depending on their intended use and the quality, but many of them can now be purchased by anyone for use at home. While a consumer 3D printer costs a few hundred dollars, a professional printer – up to $1 million. But beyond their prices, the applications of 3D printing are very broad, used today to create anything from objects like toys and clothes, to sophisticated medical equipment.

3d printer

The process of 3D printing is relatively straightforward. A digital file of the desired item is created and stored on a computer, which is then sent to the 3D printer for printing. However, creating the file from scratch is very technical and can currently only be done by trained programmers. According to Sadeh, as 3D printers proliferate in the market, children will be taught how to do this programming on their own. But that’s a while away.

3D printing “live” organs?

In the meantime, physicians are already using these printers to create anatomy mock-ups, so they can get the clearest view possible and know exactly where to cut once in surgery. They also use them to create medical devices that can match the exact need of any patient at a fraction of the price in a fraction of the time.

Medical professionals are even looking for ways to create live tissue on 3D printers, which could one day, hopefully, eradicate the need for donors.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Nano Dimension 3D Prints Human Stem Cells

Human stem cells are already being 3D-printed in Israel by Nano Dimension. Founded in 2012, the startup has created a worldwide name for itself. In addition to manufacturing PCB’s (printed circuit boards) which connect electronic devices through conductive tracks, Nano Dimension’s breakthrough has been to discover how to print stem cells at high resolutions and high volumes.


Another Israeli company, Syqe Medical, is using 3D printing for medical marijuana purposes. Its Syqe Inhaler is a 3D-printed device used to inhale medical cannabis. In addition to being healthier for your lungs, the Syqe Inhaler can distribute the dosage of medical marijuana with a higher accuracy than a standard medical marijuana cigarette, according to the company. Marijuana cigarettes make it difficult for doctors to accurately measure how much marijuana to distribute.

SEE ALSO: World’s First Precision Medical Marijuana Inhaler Hopes To Remove Stigma Of Smoking The Green Stuff

The Inhaler is also said to eliminate the feeling of a “high” for patients, which some don’t like, while still relaxing the patient and relieving their pain. Last year, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries – one of the largest drug companies in the world – signed a distribution and cooperation agreement with Tel Aviv-based Syqe Medical to market medical cannabis in an inhaler.

Another strong evidence attesting to Israel’s strength in 3D printing is the acquisition of Simbionix by the company 3D Systems for $120 million in 2014. Simbionix is considered a leader in 3D virtual reality surgical simulation and training. Just last year, the company presented its cutting-edge software for printing anatomical models that enables doctors to plan and practice in advance of complicated surgery. Using this innovative technology, the doctor can 3D print the organ or limb on which they are about to perform a surgical procedure on, and study it while holding it.

Not only plastic objects 

Israeli 3D-printing pioneer Objet, which was founded some 20 years ago, is considered to be Israel’s first major 3D-printing company. In 2012, Objet merged with American printing giant Stratasys, making it one of the largest and most profitable 3D printing companies in the world. The current CEO of Stratasys is Israeli Ilan Levin, who previously served as the president of Objet.

SEE ALSOIsraeli 3D Printer Company Objet Merges With American Stratasys

Stratasys, which has headquarters in the US and in Israel, creates 3D printers ranging in price from $10,000-$400,000; some of these are used by large corporations to create prototypes of their products.

But while most 3D printers use plastic, Israeli startup XJet, founded in 2008, is a pioneer in 3D printing using liquid metal, making the resulting product stronger and more durable.

These and other 3D-printing technologies developed in Israel prove the country is set to become a 3D-printing powerhouse in the years to come.

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

Israeli Study: Viruses Exchange Infection Strategies, Plan Attacks Together Wed, 01 Feb 2017 10:34:17 +0000 Viruses may be stealthy invaders, but an Israeli study reveals a new, chatty side of some. For the first time, viruses have been “caught” communicating with one another. This communication – short “posts” left for kin and descendant viruses – helps the viruses “reading” them to decide how to proceed with the process of infection.

According to the study, during infection, viruses secrete small molecules into their environment that other viruses can pick up and “read.” In this way, they can actually coordinate their attack, turning simple messages into fairly sophisticated infection strategies.

In the future, this discovery could lead to new anti-viral treatments.

SEE ALSO: Why Studying Mosquito Habitats And The Evolution Of The Zika Virus Can Help Halt The Epidemic

Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus

Conducted at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, and recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, the study reveals that many viruses face a choice after they have infected their hosts: to replicate quickly, killing the cell in the process, or to become dormant and wait.

HIV, herpes and a number of other human viruses behave this way and, in fact, even the viruses that attack bacteria – called phages, or bacteriophage – face similar decisions when invading a cell.

SEE ALSO: One Israeli Researcher Is Outsmarting HIV To Cure AIDS

Interestingly, Prof. Rotem Sorek and his team at the Weizmann Institute discovered the communications between phages almost by accident. “We were looking for communication between bacteria infected by phages, but we realized that the small molecules we found had been sent by the phages themselves,” he said in a statement.

To find evidence for this communication, the team grew bacteria in culture and infected them with phages; they then filtered the bacteria and phages out of the culture, leaving only the smallest molecules that had been released to the medium. When they grew more bacteria on the filtered medium, infecting them with the same phages, they were surprised to find that the new phages became dormant rather than killing the bacteria.

The team isolated the communication molecule, eventually discovering that it is a small piece of protein called a peptide; they also identified the gene encoding it. They found that in the presence of high concentrations of this peptide, phages choose the dormancy strategy, so they named it “arbitrium,” the Latin word for decision.

Don’t get too gung-ho 

“At the beginning of infection, it makes sense for the viruses to take the fast-replication, kill-the-host route,” explains Sorek, “but if they are too gung-ho, there won’t be any hosts left for future generations of viruses to infect.”

At some point, the viruses need to switch strategies and become dormant, he says. This molecule enables each generation of viruses to communicate with successive generations by adding to concentrations of the arbitrium molecule. Each virus can then ‘count’ how many previous viruses have succeeded in infecting host cells and thus decide which strategy is best at any point in time.

Prof. Rotem Sorek

Prof. Rotem Sorek

Once they had identified this communication molecule in one phage, the researchers were able to find similar molecules in dozens of related phages – each phage encoding a slightly different communication molecule. “We deciphered a phage-specific communication code. It is as if each phage species broadcasts on a specific molecular ‘frequency’ that can be ‘read’ by phages of its own kind, but not by other phages,” says Sorek.

He points out that the communication-based dormancy strategy he discovered was found in phages, but it may have broader implications. “We don’t really know how viruses that infect the human body decide to go dormant. It is possible that a similar strategy to that of the phages could be used by viruses that infect us.”

If the viruses that infect humans are found to communicate with one another in a similar manner, we might learn to intercept these messages and use them to our advantage, possibly creating new kinds of anti-viral drugs.

Photos: Weizmann Institute, NIAID

Decriminalization Of Cannabis In Israel To Boost Medical Marijuana Research Sun, 29 Jan 2017 14:57:31 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

The decriminalization of cannabis in Israel, endorsed Thursday by the public security minister, will help boost medical cannabis research and technologies, said Saul Kaye, a co-founder of ICAN: Israel Cannabis, a private equity fund with a focus on the weed.

“It will help in the general story of de-stigmatizing cannabis,” Kaye said. “Today’s news will help open the door to larger players, including the big pharma companies, seed growers and genetic researchers, who realize this is going to be big.”

SEE ALSO: Turning High-Tech Into ‘High’ Tech: Behind Israel’s Blooming Medical Cannabis Industry
marijuana, weed, cannabis, scale - by

In a move seen as paving the way for marijuana to be decriminalized, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday he plans to dramatically change the way the Israeli penal code treats private, recreational use of the drug.

Speaking at a press conference to announce his decision, Erdan said he will be accepting a proposal put forward by the Anti-Drug Authority recommending the adoption of the “Portugal Model,” in which possession and use of the drug would be decriminalized and treated largely as a health issue.

“This would mean moving to administrative fines, and criminal prosecution would only be a last resort,” Erdan said.

The new tack will need to clear the cabinet, but with many lawmakers backing decriminalization, the move is seen as likely to gain ministerial approval.

SEE ALSO: Meet The ‘Designer’ Strains Of Marijuana Bred In Israel To Treat A Wide Range Of Illnesses

Israel is well-known as a pioneer in medical cannabis. Last summer, the government approved a Health Ministry plan to relax some of the medical cannabis requirements. The plan aims to expand the number of doctors who can issue cannabis prescriptions, remove limits on the number of marijuana growers, make cannabis available at approved pharmacies, and possibly eliminate the requirement for a permit from the Health Ministry, so that just a doctor’s prescription will be sufficient.

Last week, Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it will finance research in the field of medical cannabis.

“Once the government gets on board, the industry will follow, and it has a lot of money to spend,” said Kaye.”The industry today in Israel is worth a few hundreds of million of dollars. I believe we will see $1 billion invested in startups, R&D and technologies in Israel over the next 24 months.”

Health News - Study: Cannabis May Relieve Parkinson's Related Pain

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Get Budding

Israeli Tech Cuts Prescription Errors, Harvard Study Shows Wed, 25 Jan 2017 08:24:28 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

A new study by Harvard Medical School shows that software developed by Israeli startup MedAware helps reduce prescription errors, potentially saving the lives of patients.

Ra’anana-based MedAware has developed software that uses algorithms and machine learning based on data and patterns gathered from thousands of physicians who treat millions of patients. The data are used to identify and give alerts about prescription errors in real time.

The company says its self-learning, self-adaptive system is proven to dramatically reduce healthcare costs while improving patient safety.

capsules pills drugs pharmacy hand

The Harvard study analyzed records from almost 800,000 patients to assess the efficacy of MedAware’s software. The report found that MedAware’s technology identifies errors otherwise undetected by current systems in use, minimizes the risks arising from fatigued doctors who are used to getting false alerts from current systems, and reduces prescription errors with high accuracy.

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

The findings, recently published in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), showed that MedAware’s technology sets a new standard for prescription alerts and patient safety vis-à-vis traditional safety systems, which only detect a fraction of actual errors, and are not geared up to identify random or complex errors, like prescribing a medication used only in pregnant women for an elderly make, for example.

The current clinical decision support (CDS) systems that are used by physicians are not patient-specific and suffer from high false alarm rates — which create a phenomenon known as “alert fatigue,” in which physicians simply learn to disregard notifications, a statement issued by MedAware, which is a part of OurCrowd’s portfolio of companies, said.


To read the full article, click here

Photos: NIH

Israeli Wearable Tech Upright Improves Posture, Reduces Back Pain Tue, 24 Jan 2017 12:20:33 +0000 With many of us sitting at our desks for hours every day, poor posture has become an epidemic, leading to widespread backache and other ailments.

According to Israeli startup Upright, back pain relief starts with good posture. And that’s why its posture trainer, which discreetly attaches to your lower back, trains you to stand and sit upright. Every time you slouch, it gently vibrates, reminding you to correct your posture.

The gadget – which costs $130 – comes with a mobile app, tracking your progress and offering customizable training programs.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startups Take Major Medical Competition By Storm, Win Top Three Awards

A leading cause of back pain

Founded in 2012 by Oded Cohen and Ori Fruhauf, Upright Technologies claims that by training for as little as five minutes a day, you can correct your posture.

The small startup of 13 employees claims it could help us get rid of our habit to slouch in a very creative way. Its tiny silicone device is invisible when placed under your shirt. It connects to your back via scotch tape, and reminds you to sit up straight. The idea for Upright was born after Cohen’s mother had experienced constant back pain. “I promised her I would find a way to relieve her pain,” Cohen tells NoCamels.

About three years ago, the company raised $155,000 on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, more than doubling its original goal of $70,000. Immediately thereafter, Upright Technologies sold 1,700 units to customers around the world – and realized they had hit something big.

Upright wearable device prevents back pain

Capitalizing on the wearable technology trend

“We’re riding on two big waves right now – the wearable trend and the wellness trend,” Fruhauf says. “Everything is becoming wearable – from the iWatch, to the Google glasses, these devices are becoming more accessible to the wider public. On the other hand, we’re utilizing the wonderful wellness trend sweeping the world – to be healthier, look better, and mainly feel better”.

SEE ALSO: Wearable Device Livia Promises To ‘Turn Off’ Menstrual Cramps, Alleviate Period Pain

Using the app, the customers build their personalized training plans for better posture. Input your weight, age, and the number of hours you sit during the day, and the app will build your plan for you. Once the device is attached, a gentle electrical pulse is transferred, and a light vibration is felt every time you slouch. The vibration’s intensity and other features can be adjusted.

In addition, a physical therapist can answer any questions in real time through a chat feature. According the Upright, the training program can help whether you’re wearing the device for five minutes a day for a whole hour.

“It’s natural for us to slouch sometimes,” Fruhuaf says. “Upright trains your muscles to have the ability to sit up straight whenever you like.”

According to the company, hospitals the world over are using the device to help their patients, and “raving customer reviews have been gushing in, claiming an incredible back pain relief.”

More productive and alert

Upright can also help in the workplace. Nearly half of the labor force in America suffers from head, back or neck pains, which negatively impact their ability to work, costing US employers about $7 billion per year.

According to a study recently conducted by Upright and Ernst & Young, after a few weeks of consistent training with the device, E&Y Israel employees improved posture and decreased back pain. As a result, more than half of the participants felt more productive and alert while at work.

Upright wearable device prevents back pain

Upright Technologies recently won the first-place award at the MEDICA App Competition for Best Medical Mobile Solution. The competition was part of one of the world’s largest medical trade fairs. Last year, Upright presented at CES, the largest tradeshow of consumer electronics in the world, held in Las Vegas. So far, Upright Technologies has raised $3 million from investors.

While several clinical trials are ongoing in the US and in Israel, Upright is pending an FDA approval. However, Fruhauf is optimistic: “We’re very lucky to have founded a company based on a product that can truly change people’s lives for the better.”

Photos and video: Courtesy

Sniffing Out Cancer: Israeli Prof. Finds Diseases Like Cancer And Parkinson’s Can Be Detected On The Breath Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:17:55 +0000 What if detecting cancer was as easy as breathing in and out? According to the results of a recent study, it is.

An international team of 56 researchers in five countries has confirmed that different diseases are characterized by different “chemical signatures” identifiable in breath samples.

The findings by the team led by Israel’s Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology were published recently in ACS Nano.

SEE ALSO: Revolutionary Device Detects Deadly Diseases, Cancer, On The Breath

Although diagnostic techniques based on breath samples have been demonstrated in the past, until now there has not been scientific proof that different and unrelated diseases are characterized by distinct chemical breath signatures. Also, technologies developed to date for this type of diagnosis have been limited to detecting a small number of diseases.

17 diseases, 13 shared chemical components

The study of more than 1,400 patients included 17 different and unrelated diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson’s disease (two types), multiple sclerosis, pulmonary hypertension, preeclampsia and chronic kidney disease. Samples were collected between January 2011 and June 2014 from 14 departments at nine medical centers in five countries: Israel, France, the USA, Latvia and China.

The researchers tested the chemical composition of the breath samples using an accepted analytical method (mass spectrometry). They discovered that all 17 of the diseases contained the same 13 chemical components, albeit in different compositions.

Technion, breath diagnosis

Two breath samples were taken from each subject, one was sent for chemical mapping using mass spectrometry, and the other was analyzed in the new system, which produced a clinical diagnosis based on the chemical fingerprint of the breath sample.

“A unique fingerprint”

“Each of these diseases is characterized by a unique fingerprint, meaning a different composition of these 13 chemical components,” Prof. Haick explained in a statement. “Just as each of us has a unique fingerprint that distinguishes us from others, each disease has a chemical signature that distinguishes it from other diseases and from a normal state of health. These odor signatures are what enables us to identify the diseases using the technology that we developed.”

86% accuracy

With a new technology called “artificially intelligent nanoarray,” developed by Prof. Haick, the researchers were able to perform fast and inexpensive diagnosis and classification of diseases, based on “smelling” the patient’s breath, and using artificial intelligence to analyze the data obtained from the sensors. Some of the sensors are based on layers of gold nanoscale particles and others contain a random network of carbon nanotubes coated with an organic layer for sensing and identification purposes.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Decode Autism Genes

Haick’s team at first wondered if factors such as gender, age, smoking habits and geographic location would affect the technology, but found that it did not affect the reliability of the diagnosis.

“Our system has detected and classified various diseases with an average accuracy of 86%.,” Prof. Haick and his previous Ph.D student, Dr. Morad Nakhleh, explained in a statement.

They added: “This is a new and promising direction for diagnosis and classification of diseases, which is characterized not only by considerable accuracy but also by low cost, low electricity consumption, miniaturization, comfort and the possibility of repeating the test easily.”

Creator of the SNIFFPHONE

Haick is already well known for the SNIFFPHONE, a device he developed that can sense disease on the breath, much like a breathalyzer test. The SNIFFPHONE uses nanotechnology sensors to analyze the particles on the breath and can pinpoint exact diseases, like certain kinds of cancer, pulmonary and even the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

hossam haick detect cancer breath

A most accomplished professor

In addition to being a professor at Technion and head of three major European consortia, Prof. Haick has received many prestigious awards and grants, including the Marie Curie Excellence Award, the European Research Council grant, grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hershel Rich Technion Innovation Award and the Humboldt Senior Research Award (Germany). He has been included in several important lists, including the world’s 35 leading young scientists list published by MIT’s Technology Review, the Nominet Trust 100 list (London), which includes the world’s 100 most influential inventors and digital developments, and Los Angeles-based GOOD Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Prof. Haick also received the highest teaching award granted by the Technion, the Yanai Prize for Academic Excellence.

Hossam, Technion

Professor Hossam Haick

Breath: “an excellent material for diagnosis”

Haick’s group is not the first to use a patient’s breath to detect diseases. Back in 400 B.C., before the invention of modern medicine, the Greek physician Hippocrates observed that a number of diseases could be detected on the breath.

“Breath is an excellent raw material for diagnosis,” Prof. Haick said in a statement. “It is available without the need for invasive and unpleasant procedures, it’s not dangerous, and you can sample it again and again if necessary.”

Photos and videos: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

The Coolest Israeli Technologies Wowing The Crowds At CES 2017 Thu, 05 Jan 2017 10:26:16 +0000 From wearable technologies to artificial intelligence, the Israeli delegation to CES 2017 is showcasing a wide set of solutions for the consumer electronics industry, some of which are truly game-changing.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Startup Nation is home to some 500 consumer electronics companies in a range of fields: mobile devices, smart homes and smart TVs, video and gaming, automotive, wearables, Internet of Things and more.

Overall, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas this week, is showcasing 3,800 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology systems from 150 countries. Roughly 165,000 people are attending this year’s show, which runs January 5-8.

CES has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies, and is considered the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. The largest tradeshow of its kind, CES has been produced by the Consumer Technology Association for the past 50 years.

Here are some of the coolest, up-and-coming Israeli technologies at the conference:

SCiO: A molecular sensor built into a smartphone

Changhong, one of China’s largest consumer electronics makers, and Israeli startup Consumer Physics, maker of the SCiO handheld molecular sensor, unveiled the world’s first smartphone with a built-in material sensor at CES this week.

This smartphone will allow consumers to scan materials and immediately receive actionable insights based on their underlying chemical composition, such as the nutritional value of foods, alcohol content of drinks, purity of cooking oils, and identification of raw materials used in manufacturing.


This capability has the potential to change smartphones forever, just like the integration of cameras and GPS units have over the past decade. The smartphone is set to launch later this year.

Founded in 2011 by Damian Goldring and Dror Sharon, Consumer Physics has so far raised $11.5 million from investors. Backed by Israeli entrepreneur Dov Moran (who invented the USB drive), Khosla Ventures and Israeli crowd-funding firm OurCrowd, Consumer Physics could very well change the way we interact with the world.

According to Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd, Consumer Physics “truly brought science fiction to life. This new integration of their SCiO technology into the Changhong H2 phone will unleash a tsunami of applications that will allow users to better know and understand the world around us and to lead more healthy and productive lives.”

Beyond Verbal: Deciphering people’s moods 

Israeli company Beyond Verbal‘s cutting-edge, artificially intelligent technology deciphers people’s moods, emotional characteristics, and attitudes in real-time.

Having already analyzed millions of voice samples from 170 countries, Beyond Verbal’s technology decodes human vocal intonations into their underlying emotions.

The company’s technology can be applied in mobile apps, voice assistants, wearables, and a variety of other settings. Its software can also be integrated into existing products, helping devices and applications envision not just what users type, but also how they feel and what they mean.

SEE ALSO: Beyond Verbal’s Technology Interprets Trump’s Real Emotions

Founded in 2012 by Yoav Hoshen and Yuval Mor, the company has already been granted several patents and raised $10 million.

TytoCare: Telemedicine at your fingertips 

Imagine you could skip the waiting time for a doctor’s appointment and also save the money you would have paid for the visit.

Israeli startup TytoCare has developed an innovative hand-held instrument, called Tyto, which can detect and classify common diseases such as the flu or ear infections. The kit includes a stethoscope, an otoscope and a computer-vision camera that helps the user diagnose the problem. In case a doctor is needed, the device can also be used to connect with a specialist for a remote consultation.

Founded by Dedi Gilad and Ofer Tzadik in 2012, the company has raised $18.5 million so far, with major drugstore chain Walgreens among its investors.

Radiomize: Reducing car accidents 

We all know texting while driving is dangerous, yet we still do it – we just can’t help ourselves. But safety doesn’t need to be comprised.

Founded in April 2015 by Shmuel Kaz and Gilad Landau, Israeli startup Radiomize works to reduce car accidents. Radiomize has created a steering wheel cover embedded with text-to-speech technology and a matching mobile app. This patented gadget fits most vehicles, allowing drivers to control their phones without taking their focus off the road. According to Radiomize, its technology can reduce distracted driving by 23 percent.

And, it can even help you choose your music without taking your eyes off the road.

Digisense: Monitoring infants and the elderly 

Founded by Eyall Abir in 2010, Digisense has developed a wearable, real-time monitoring solution for babies and the elderly, designed to respond to the needs of infants and geriatric patients.

The gadget, which clasps onto a diaper, helps prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It monitors hydration levels, urine quantity and quality, and minimizes irritation to the skin. For the elderly, this wearable device monitors quality of care, while empowering confidence, independence and dignity.

For use at home, hospitals or nursing homes, the device can be attached (using Velcro) to any diaper or cloth. This Internet of Things (IoT) device is noninvasive and provides data through an app. It can even tell you when the diaper is wet and the baby needs changing.

Mobileye’s most complex autonomous drive

As opposed to the budding startups featured above, Mobileye has been around for nearly two decades (founded in 1999 by Ziv Aviram and Prof. Amnon Shashua); but its newest technologies being showcased at CES this week simply cannot be ignored.

Delphi Automotive and Israeli company Mobileye are presenting their cutting-edge driverless car at the show. Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver assistance systems that help prevent collisions, has contributed its innovative autonomous driving technologies to Delphi’s car.

Last month, the companies said they would hold the “most complex automated drive ever publicly demonstrated” in Las Vegas. The drive will tackle everyday driving challenges like highway mergers, congested city streets with pedestrians, cyclists and a tunnel.

Additionally, Mobileye, BMW and Intel announced at CES today that they will have 40 autonomous test vehicles on the roads by the second half of 2017.

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

Israeli Researchers Find Revolutionary Deep-Sea Bacteria Treatment For Prostate Cancer Wed, 21 Dec 2016 11:43:40 +0000 Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with roughly 40,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK every year, according to the National Health Service. Current treatments, such as radiotherapy and surgery, regularly cause lifelong incontinence. In addition, 90 percent of men who undergo such treatments struggle with erectile problems.

Using lasers and a drug made from deep-sea bacteria, Israeli scientists have now developed a non-surgical method to treat men in the early stages of prostate cancer, drastically improving their chances of completely eliminating the disease without the need to remove the gland.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Discover Why Cancer Recurs – And Fight Back

The novel approach, which has already been tested across Europe, eliminates tumors with minimal side effects. In the treatment, doctors inject a light-sensitive drug derived from deep-sea bacteria into a patient’s bloodstream, killing cancer cells without destroying healthy tissue.

Cancer Cell

“Excellent news for men”

The treatment, called vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy or VTP, was developed by Prof. Avigdor Scherz and Prof. Yoram Salomon of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, in collaboration with the privately-owned company STEBA Biotech, and additional researchers from Europe.

Results of a clinical trial in 413 patients at 47 hospitals in 10 countries across Europe, most of which were performing VTP for the first time, showed that the drug, which is activated with a laser to destroy tumor tissue in the prostate, was so effective that 49 percent of patients go into complete remission, compared to 13.5 percent in the control group. That’s almost four times more effective.

“These results are excellent news for men with early localized prostate cancer, offering a treatment that can kill cancer without removing or destroying the prostate,” Mark Emberton, a University College London urologist who led the trial, said in a statement. “This is truly a huge leap forward.”

SEE ALSO: New Israeli Cancer Vaccine Triggers Response In 90% Of Cancer Types

With successful trials already completed, and the results published in academic journal The Lancet, the scientists hope that this new treatment could be offered to patients within just a few years.

From the bottom of the ocean

As reported in the published study, WST11, the light-sensitive drug used, is derived from bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean. To survive with very little sunlight, they have evolved to convert light into energy with incredible efficiency. The Weizmann scientists exploited this feature to develop WST11, a compound that releases free radicals to kill surrounding cells when activated by laser light.

No significant side effects

Men with low-risk prostate cancer are currently put under active surveillance, where the disease is monitored and only treated when it becomes more severe. Radical therapy, which involves surgically removing or irradiating the whole prostate, has significant long-term side effects, so it is only used to treat high-risk cancers.

While radical therapy causes lifelong erectile problems and incontinence, VTP only caused short-term urinary and erectile problems which resolved within three months, the researchers said. No significant side-effects remained after two years.

test tubes blood lab

In the trial, only 6 percent of patients treated with VTP needed radical therapy, compared with 30 percent of patients in the control group.

“The fact that the treatment was performed so successfully by non-specialist centers in various health systems is really remarkable,” Emberton said in a statement.

Hope for the future

The VTP treatment is now being reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for a possible license, but it likely to be several years before it can be offered to patients more widely. If the trials continue to be successful, the treatment should be applied to other cancers, including breast and liver cancer, according to the research team.

Photos and video: Weizmann Institute of Science, Darryl Leja – NHGRI, NIH

$100 Wheelchair Brings Hope To Disabled Kids In Third World Countries, Syrian Refugees Tue, 20 Dec 2016 10:20:10 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Millions of disabled people lack minimal mobility as the Third World has a shortfall of 20 million chairs to serve them. Children aged five and older sometimes need to crawl to get around, or can’t attend school because of lack of accessibility.

So Pablo Kaplan, who served for almost 30 years as the vice president of Marketing at Keter Plastic, an Israeli manufacturer of plastic household and garden products, decided to come to their aid and set up the Wheelchairs of Hope project. The aim was to produce wheelchairs for disabled children in Third World countries.

SEE ALSO: UPnRIDE: This Segway-Like Vehicle Will Help Quadriplegics Stand Tall

After he spent three years working on the project, the first shipment of 250 wheelchairs for children in institutions in Israel and the Palestinian Authority is to be sent this month, with a batch for residents of the refugee camps in Syria soon to follow. Distribution of the wheelchairs is being done through institutions including the Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem and Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana.

To develop the optimal chair that can withstand harsh conditions but at the same time be comfortable for children, Kaplan contacted his friend and colleague back from his days at Keter, Dr. Amir Ziv Av, now the owner of engineering company Ziv Av Engineering Group. Together they developed a lightweight chair — it weighs 10 kilograms (22 pounds) as opposed to the standard 15 kilograms — that can handle off-road conditions, requires zero maintenance and is robust and simple to assemble. More importantly, the chair costs just $100.

“We also took the child’s self esteem into our design,” said Kaplan. “It is a chair designed for children that looks more like a high chair and not like a medical device. It is not a wheelchair for adults adapted to children.”

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

The prototype of the product was created using a giant three-dimensional printer, the first of its kind in Israel. Funding came from private money and from a grant from Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy, said Kaplan, an Israeli who was born in Argentina. The chair also passed all the international standards tests, he said.

The wheelchairs have a metal skeleton combined with plastic elements. “The parts that come in contact with the child are plastic,” said Kaplan in an interview. The first chairs are aimed at 5- to 9-year-olds, who are semi-active and can push themselves, he said. Alyn’s occupational therapy seating specialists provided the much needed insights for the design of the wheelchair.

Wheelchairs of Hope

To read the full article, click here.

Photos and video: Courtesy

Gut Microbes Contribute to Recurrent ‘Yo-Yo’ Obesity, Study Shows Sun, 18 Dec 2016 09:57:40 +0000 Following a successful diet, many people are dismayed to find their weight rebounding – an all-too-common phenomenon termed “recurrent” or “yo-yo” obesity. Worse still, the vast majority of recurrently obese individuals not only rebound to their pre-dieting weight, but also gain more weight with each dieting cycle. During each round of dieting-and-weight-regain, their proportion of body fat increases, and so does the risk of developing complications, such as fatty liver and other obesity-related diseases.

Now, researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have shown in mice that intestinal microbes – collectively termed the gut microbiome – play an unexpectedly important role in exacerbated post-dieting weight gain, and that this common phenomenon may in the future be prevented or treated by altering the composition or function of the microbiome.

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


The study, recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, was led by Dr. Eran Elinav and Prof. Eran Segal. They found that after a cycle of gaining and losing weight, all the mice’s body systems fully reverted to normal – except the microbiome. For about six months after losing weight, post-obese mice retained an abnormal “obese” microbiome.

“We’ve shown in obese mice that following successful dieting and weight loss, the microbiome retains a ‘memory’ of previous obesity,” Elinav said in a statement. “This persistent microbiome accelerated the regaining of weight when the mice were put back on a high-calorie diet or ate regular food in excessive amounts.”

According to Segal, “by conducting a detailed functional analysis of the microbiome, we’ve developed potential therapeutic approaches to alleviating its impact on weight regain.”

In a series of experiments, the scientists demonstrated that the makeup of the “obese” microbiome was a major driver of accelerated post-dieting weight gain. For example, when they depleted the intestinal microbes in mice by giving them broad-spectrum antibiotics, the exaggerated post-diet weight gain was eliminated.

SEE ALSO: Diet Startup ‘DayTwo’ Creates Unique Personalized Diets By Checking Your… Gut Bacteria

In another experiment, when intestinal microbes from mice with a history of obesity were introduced into germ-free mice (which, by definition, carry no microbiome of their own), their weight gain was accelerated upon feeding with a high-calorie diet, compared to germ-free mice that had received an implant of intestinal microbes from mice with no history of weight gain.

Next, the scientists developed a machine-learning algorithm, based on hundreds of individualized microbiome parameters, which accurately predicted the rate of weight regain in each mouse, based on the characteristics of its microbiome after weight gain and successful dieting.

Furthermore, they identified two molecules driving the impact of the microbiome on regaining weight. These molecules – belonging to the class of organic chemicals called flavonoids that are obtained through eating certain vegetables – are rapidly degraded by the “post-dieting” microbiome, so that the levels of these molecules in post-dieting mice are significantly lower than those in mice with no history of obesity.

The researchers found that under normal circumstances, these flavonoids promote energy expenditure during fat metabolism. Low levels of these flavonoids in weight cycling prevented this fat-derived energy release, causing the post-dieting mice to accumulate extra fat when they were returned to a high-calorie diet.

Transplanting fecal microbes to prevent recurring obesity

Finally, the researchers used these insights to develop new treatments for recurrent obesity. They implanted formerly obese mice with gut microbes from mice that had never been obese. This fecal microbiome transplantation erased the “memory” of obesity in these mice when they were re-exposed to a high-calorie diet, preventing excessive recurrent obesity.

Social Awareness: 'Big Brother' Study Sheds Light On Mice's Social Structure


Next, the scientists used an approach that is likely to be more unobjectionable to humans: They supplemented post-dieting mice with flavonoids added to their drinking water. This brought their flavonoid levels, and thus their energy expenditure, back to normal levels. As a result, even upon return to a high-calorie diet, the mice did not experience accelerated weight gain.

“We call this approach ‘post-biotic’ intervention,” Segal said in a statement. “In contrast to probiotics, which introduce helpful microbes into the intestines, we are not introducing the microbes themselves but substances affected by the microbiome, which might prove to be more safe and effective.”

Recurrent obesity is an epidemic of massive proportions, affecting nearly half of the world’s adult population, Elinav says. It predisposes people to common life-risking complications, such as adult-onset diabetes and heart disease. “If the results of our mouse studies are found to be applicable to humans, they may help diagnose and treat recurrent obesity, and this, in turn, may help alleviate the obesity epidemic.”


The study was conducted by Christoph Thaiss, a Ph.D. student in Elinav’s lab. Thaiss collaborated with master’s student Shlomik Itav of the Elinav lab, Daphna Rothschild, a Ph.D. student in Segal’s lab, as well as with other scientists from the Weizmann Institute and elsewhere.

Photos: Courtesy

Karate Kids Kick Cancer By Channeling Stress, Fear And Pain With Martial Arts Thu, 15 Dec 2016 08:44:10 +0000 Having lost his own two year-old daughter, Sara Basya, to leukemia in 1981, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg has a strong bond with children with cancer. A first degree black belt in the Korean art of Choi Kwon Do, Goldberg’s life took an unexpected turn when he began teaching breathing techniques to kids at an oncology camp he directed.

It all started when Rabbi Goldberg (or ‘Rabbi G’, as the young patients affectionately call him), a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Department of Pediatrics at the Wayne State School of Medicine and a 2014 “Top 10” CNN Hero , walked into a room where a five year old child was undergoing treatment and was being held down while screaming. Goldberg stepped in and asked the nurses to give him a few minutes alone with the boy. In an effort to calm him, Goldberg decided to demonstrate some breathing techniques that are used in martial arts. “In martial arts, you learn that pain is a message that you don’t have to listen to,” Goldberg explains.

Within five minutes, the boy had learned a simple breathing technique and twenty minutes later he looked up at the nurse and asked her when she would do the procedure. However, she had already finished and the child had hardly noticed.

SEE ALSO: Program Promotes Arab/Israeli Peace Through Martial Arts

Not just for cancer patients

Goldberg’s commitment to ease the pain of very sick children, and his dream of bringing healing through the empowering focus of the martial arts, resulted in the creation of Kids Kicking Cancer (KKC) in June of 1999. A non-profit organization, Kids Kicking Cancer provides weekly classes for both inpatient and outpatient children in the mind-body techniques found in the martial arts. Despite the word ‘cancer’ in the organization’s name, the program offers help and services, not just to cancer patients and their families, but to any child dealing with the challenges of serious or chronic illness.

Free of charge

Through an innovative program, also known as the Heroes Circle, which merges modern integrative medicine with traditional martial arts, Kids Kicking Cancer addresses the overwhelming needs of children with illness. Specially trained black belt martial artists, some of whom were once in the Kids Kicking Cancer program when they were children, go through an intensive 10-hour training course. They then go on to teach breathing, visualization, and relaxation techniques, in addition to traditional martial arts moves to help empower the children and provide them with a sense of Power, Peace and Purpose, which is KKC’s mantra. Martial arts classes, support during hospital and clinic procedures, uniforms, and transportation to and from classes are all provided to families at no cost. Children three and older, and their siblings, are eligible for the program.

From Detroit to Israel

Founded in Goldberg’s home city of Detroit, Michigan, Kids Kicking Cancer launched in Israel in 2013. The program has now expanded to 28 hospitals in the US & Canada, 15 in Italy, and six in Israel. The participating Israeli hospitals are: Shaarei Tsedek, Hadassah Ein Karem, and Alyn Hospitals in Jerusalem, the Sheba Hospital at Tel Hoshomer, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) and Schneider’s Children Medical Center in Petah Tikvah. In total, Kids Kicking Cancer is working with 3,000 children worldwide and 80 children in the six Israeli hospitals.

SEE ALSO: Israeli App Belong Helps Cancer Patients, Families Through Healing Process

The chairman of Kids Kicking Cancer Israel is Danny Hakim, a seventh degree Karate black belt with over 30 years teaching experience. Hakim has represented Australia, Japan and Israel in numerous international karate tournaments. His ability to see martial arts as a tool to empower children to create inner peace and universal focus led to his founding Budo for Peace in 2004. When he learned about Kids Kicking Cancer, he decided to bring it under the umbrella of Budo for Peace, which is funded by Israel’s Bank Hapoalim and a number of private foundations. KKC Israel’s instructors come from all sectors of the public, both Jewish and Arab. Hakim views the program as a model of coexistence.

Kids, Cancer, Kids Kicking Cancer, Danny,

Danny Hakim, Chairman of Kids Kicking Cancer Israel

A CNN Hero

Kids Kicking Cancer has been widely lauded in the press. In March 2012, Goldberg was featured in People Magazine in their “Heroes Among Us” feature. In August 2013, Kids Kicking Cancer was featured on Good Morning America and this year was the subject of an article in USA Today. In 2014, Rabbi Goldberg was recongnized as a “Top 10” CNN hero, a global program which honors individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities.

Study: 85% feel less pain with KKC’s method

A new study from the Wayne State University School of Medicine found that Kids Kicking Cancer was effective for the vast majority of patients they studied.

“The martial arts have often been known to be invested in Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee types of activities,” Dr. Martin Bluth of the Wayne State University School of Medicine said in a statement. “So what we did is assess whether or not martial arts intervention using the meditative capacities and empowerment capacities … can have an effect on moderating or reducing childhood cancer pain.”

The research team worked with 64 children of varying ages to test their pain levels before, during and after their martial arts training. The study found that 85 percent of the students reported feeling less pain, thanks to Rabbi G’s method.

Sold-out charity benefit

A week ago, Kids Kicking Cancer Israel hosted a special benefit evening in Ra’anana, a central city in Israel, with all proceed going directly to KKC. Hundreds packed the municipal hall to watch Hollywood comedian Elon Gold perform his hilarious stand-up act, but not before two inspirational Israeli KKC kids, sisters Kayla and Gefen Feiler, stole the show when they demonstrated what they had learned from Kids Kicking Cancer. At one point the entire crowd stood up and following the girls’ lead, practiced the Breathe Break, a stress-relieving breathing technique trademarked by Kids Kicking Cancer. When they finished, the girls’ instructor told the crowd that Gefen, the younger sister who had cancer, is now in full remission.

Kids Kicking Cancer, Girls cancer, karate, cancer

Kayla (left) and Gefen (right), from Kids Kicking Cancer Israel

Not about learning, but teaching

Kids Kicking Cancer has already helped thousands of children around the globe deal with their pain in a more managable way and regain a sense of control over the chaos of their lives. The potential to reach millions of young patients is vast, but Goldberg insists that it’s not about teaching the children, but about “empowering kids to be partners in their own healing”. Goldberg’s aim is for the kids to see themselves as victors, not victims and for those same kids to provide ispiration and light to others facing life-challenges.

“It’s all about the children becoming teachers,” Rabbi Goldberg told the Detroit Free Press. “When children know they have a purpose — it changes everything.”

Photos and Video:, CNN

Turning High-Tech Into ‘High’ Tech: Behind Israel’s Blooming Medical Cannabis Industry Sun, 11 Dec 2016 11:45:38 +0000 Some of the recent studies coming out of Israel show that marijuana can heal bone fractures; is able to relieve the pain associated with Parkinson’s disease; and that small quantities of cannabis can prevent brain damage, and even halt the spread of cancer.

But cannabis is not only the subject of research and clinical trials in Israel, it’s also the focus of a host of startup entrepreneurs working to apply the benefits of marijuana to the commercial world. Large companies are also jumping on the green bandwagon: Israeli pharma giant Teva recently said it would market Syqe, a medical marijuana inhaler developed in Israel. Two other Israeli companies have already developed marijuana tablets.

Health News - Study: Cannabis May Relieve Parkinson's Related Pain

Israel is one of the first modern nations to investigate the medical benefits of marijuana. The local founding father of cannabis research, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University, has been studying the plant since the 1960s. Over the past decades, other researchers have joined him to explore the possible positive impact of cannabis on bones, our digestive system, and even our brain.

SEE ALSO: Professor Raphael Mechoulam, The Father Of Marijuana Research, Talks To NoCamels About His Studies And Breaking The Law In The Name Of Science

Sensing the commercial value of marijuana, a host of Israeli startups and companies – backed by one incubator and a couple of venture capital firms – have started to commercialize some of the researchers’ findings on the benefits of hemp, and now there are some 70 companies in the field, industry veteran Dr. Tamir Gedo, CEO of Israel’s BOL Pharma, tells NoCamels. In recent years, his company has conducted clinical trials with cannabis, showing positive results on leukemia, brain cancer (Glioblastoma, or GBM), psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and even autism, Gedo says.

Israeli cannabis startups – albeit growing and testing crops locally – are looking to the US for mass marketing, and not only to Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana first became legal. With California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts joining suit (Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota passed medical pot measures on Nov. 8), Israeli startups could soon tap into a huge market.

Greater access to cannabis treatments

The newest invention – a marijuana tablet – is being developed by two local companies. Earlier this month, Israeli pharma company Therapix Biosciences, which develops cannabinoid-based drugs, completed the development phase of a unique formulation of a tablet for sublingual administration. The tablet is expected to be used in clinical trials for the treatment of impairments in cognitive functioning, including Alzheimer’s disease. Another Israeli company, OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp., announced a similar tablet back in October.

According to Ziv Turner, CEO of OWC, “there’s a substantial number of eligible patients who are uncomfortable smoking cannabis for medical purposes, leaving a large segment of the patient population without real access to treatment. We believe our tablet is a preferable administrative method for those, and many other patients, and will make a real difference in the way cannabis is administered.”

SEE ALSO: World’s First Precision Medical Marijuana Inhaler Hopes To Remove Stigma Of Smoking The Green Stuff

Another way to administer cannabis is through an inhaler. Israeli startup Syqe Medical has created an innovative, 3D-printed hand-held cannabis inhaler, which vaporizes tiny granules of cannabis in small doses. Those provide the relieving effects of marijuana, without having the mind-altering side effects that usually come with it. Earlier this year, giant cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris invested $20 million in Syqe Medical.

Weeding out the bad taste 

Another Israeli cannabis startup is Eybna, which has developed natural, terpene-based cannabis flavors with aromatic fragrances.

For those who would like to grow their weed themseves, Israeli startup Leaf provides a do-it-yourself kit for patients who use medical marijuana, so they can grow and crop their weed themselves – without soil!


Budding Israeli startups in the field of medical marijuana can get guidance and funding from local startup incubator iCAN- Israel Cannabis, which focuses on cannabis-related technologies with commercialization potential. According to Saul Kaye, founder and CEO of iCAN, the incubator enables “the most promising startups and innovators in Israel and abroad to create world-class products for the global cannabis economy.”

Different strains treat different conditions  

Israel pioneered marijuana research in 1964, when Mechoulam discovered Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, one of 70 cannabinoids (the active molecules in cannabis). THC is responsible for the ‘high’ feeling, while CBD is marijuana’s non-psychoactive component, which has been proven to have several health benefits. Cannabinoids are generally used to reduce pain, stress, as well as to increase appetite, among other uses.

Today, Israeli researchers lead the scientific world in cannabinoid research, inventing new methods of mapping the cannabis genome, while discovering new medical uses for the plant.

As experts increasingly consider marijuana to be a genetically modified organism (GMO) – produced in greenhouse-laboratories to treat specific conditions – Israeli scientists are using genetic markers to control molecule counts, and modify the plant, so it can better treat certain symptoms, thus helping millions of patients worldwide.

Israeli startup BreedIT, for example, is combining the power of science and technology with the medical power of cannabis, helping growers breed biogenetically engineered marijuana. Collaborating with doctors and researchers from the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, BreedIT manufactures agrobreeding systems for growers.

Agrobreeding is a computer-controlled breeding method that genetically modifies plants, and creates marijuana strains. This selective breeding method uses big-data computers and analysis techniques that provide growers and researchers with insightful plant information, including the amounts of active THC and CBD in marijuana.

One of the Israeli strains of marijuana is Avidekel, a non-psychoactive CBD strain for treatment of epilepsy grown by Tikun Olam, which means “heal the world” in Hebrew.

SEE ALSO: Cannabis Cure: Marijuana May One Day Be A Cure For Cancer, Israeli Study Shows

So far, eight farms in Israel are licensed to grow marijuana for medical uses, and certain doctors are allowed to prescribe medical marijuana, which will soon be sold in pharmacies across Israel.

And, if the Israeli government approves exporting medical marijuana grown in Israel (only medical devices can be exported as of now), Israeli farmers are looking at $250-$300 million in revenues a year, according to Israel’s Ministry of Finance.

Gedo believes the potential is much bigger. “By federal law, American companies and hospitals cannot perform clinical trials involving cannabis on human beings, but they can and do come to Israel generating dozens of groundbreaking studies based on cannabinoids,” he says, stating that BOL Pharma already works with half a dozen such companies. “This research will generate new cannabinoid based platforms which will form the basis of new drugs that will be used by US pharmaceutical companies in the future.”

According to Gedo, “Israel’s medical cannabis future lies in research and technology. That’s our strength. Bringing more international companies to Israel can generate more revenues than was previously estimated.”

A $6.7 billion industry

The legal cannabis market tops $6.7 billion in the US; medical marijuana is prescribed in the US for cancer, AIDS, asthma and glaucoma, as well as an antidepressant and an appetite stimulant. Cannabis is also used as an anti-convulsing agent, with many clinical studies still ongoing.

In the US, Israel and elsewhere in the world, the use of medical marijuana is expected to expand in the next decade, thanks to new growing methods and increasing government support. And, since there are so many cannabinoids to study, researchers hope to reveal additional uses for marijuana in years to come.


Photos and videos: Get Budding, Syqe Medical, BreedIT

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Jaw Dropping: Lab-Grown Bones Successfully Transplanted In 11 Jaws Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:54:39 +0000 Israeli biotech company Bonus BioGroup is growing live bones from patients’ own fat cells. And today the company reported that it successfully injected its lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft into the jaws of 11 people in an early stage clinical trial evaluating bone loss repair.

The material, grown in a lab from each patient’s own fat cells, was injected into and filled the voids of the problematic bones. Over a few months it hardened and merged with the existing bone to complete the jaw, the company said.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Grows New Bones From Patients’ Fat

The transplant “was 100% successful in all 11 patients,” Ora Burger, the VP of regulation affairs, told Reuters. “Now we are going to conduct a clinical study in the extremities, long bones.”

The announcement was made in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and Bonus Biogroup presented its results at the International Conference on Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Spain yesterday.

Bonus BioGroup’s CEO Shai Meretski, who previously founded Pluristem Therapeutics, an advanced Israeli biomedical company that works with stem cells, told Reuters, “For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection.”

bones, Bonus biogroup, bones

Meretzki, with a bone sample

While the company’s announcement is encouraging, the technology is currently undergoing development and has yet to undergo more extensive clinical trials and approval by medical authorities regarding its effectiveness and safety. It is not yet generally available.

Photos and video: Courtesy

Teva To Market Syqe, The Revolutionary Medical Marijuana Inhaler Developed In Israel Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:24:22 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

In a world first, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Tel Aviv-based Syqe Medical signed a distribution and cooperation agreement to market medical cannabis in an inhaler.

Under the agreement, Teva will be the exclusive marketer and distributor in Israel of an inhaler developed by Syqe Medical for the delivery of medical cannabis. The accord marks the first time that a major global pharma company has agreed to market a medical cannabis product, according to Syqe.

The Syqe inhaler has been used for more than a year at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital with the approval of Israel’s Health Ministry. This makes it the first hospital in the world to prescribe cannabis as a standard medical treatment.

As part of the agreement with Teva Israel, the Syqe inhaler is expected to receive Health Ministry approval for home use by next year.

SEE ALSO: Meet The ‘Designer’ Strains Of Marijuana Bred In Israel To Treat A Wide Range Of Illnesses

Israel’s reputation as a high-tech hub and a lax regulatory environment has allowed the startup nation to become a leader in cannabis technology, with dozens of local firms focusing on the medical field. The international medical cannabis market is forecast to be worth approximately $20 billion within a decade. About 1 percent of the global population are potential medical cannabis users at some point during their lifetime.

“A deep commitment to patients coping with pain” 

“Teva Israel is entering the field of medical cannabis out of a deep commitment to patients coping with pain, which is one of the company’s core therapeutic areas,” said Teva Israel CEO Avinoam Sapir, who also serves as Teva’s director for Africa and the Middle East, and as director of Innovation in Emerging Markets. “State-of-the-art technology and groundbreaking medical devices — such as those developed by Syqe Medical, and which generate tremendous therapeutic value for patients and medical staff alike — integrate perfectly into the strategy of Teva Israel.”

Health News - Study: Cannabis May Relieve Parkinson's Related Pain

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

Meet The Coolest Israeli Companies On Wall Street Sun, 04 Dec 2016 11:53:35 +0000 Israel is the largest foreign presence on Wall Street following China and Canada. Some 70 Israeli companies are currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with many technology firms listed on NASDAQ.

“The level of Israeli equities listed on Wall Street is yet another example of Israeli innovation and the strong US-Israel relationship,” Daniella Rilov, executive director of the America-Israel Friendship League, said during a New York Stock Exchange event dedicated to Israel last month.

trading floor equities stocks 1200px-Sao_Paulo_Stock_Exchange

Until recently, Israeli companies were often criticized for their eagerness to “sell out” quickly in pursuit of an early “exit,” instead of offering their shares to the public. But in recent years, Israel has seen dozens of its companies going public in Tel Aviv, London, New York and elsewhere in the world.

From web design to driverless cars, here are five of the coolest Israeli companies on Wall Street:


Making driving safer and potentially saving lives, Israeli company Mobileye (NYSE: MBLY) develops driver assistance technology to prevent accidents, but is also one of the major developers of autonomous car technologies. Its systems use video cameras and advanced algorithms to identify and respond to other vehicles, bends in the road, pedestrians and traffic signs, providing advanced warning for drivers and thereby preventing car accidents.

SEE ALSO: Mobileye Teams Up With BMW, Intel To Manufacture A Driverless Car By 2021

Most recently, Mobileye announced it will collaborate with car maker BMW and technology giant Intel to manufacture a driverless car by 2021.

Founded in 1999 by Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua, the Hebrew University professor who developed the technology, Mobileye raised nearly $1 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, the largest-ever Israeli IPO. With a market cap of $8.5 billion, shares of Mobileye now trade for $39.


The brainchild of Dr. Amit Goffer, revolutionary exoskeleton ReWalk (NASDAQ: RWLK) enables paraplegics to walk and climb stairs.

For individuals with spinal cord injuries, standing and walking around freely remains a dream. But using the exoskeleton walking device ReWalk, wheelchair-bound individuals are now able to move freely.

At the forefront of medical technology, ReWalk’s exoskeleton is powered by a computer and motion sensors that work together to mimic natural gait. The innovative system corrects itself to pick up slight changes in the user’s center of gravity; it can be adjusted to a functional walking speed; and even enables users to climb and descend staircases.

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.

Founded by Goffer in 2001, ReWalk could soon make wheelchairs obsolete.


Founded in 1987 by Israel’s Kibbutz Sdot Yam, Caesarstone (NASDAQ: CSTE) designs, engineers and manufactures stone surfaces. In recent years, it has become successful in the US luxury residential market, making Sdot Yam one of the richest kibbutzim in Israel.

In 2014, this kibbutz (a collective community traditionally based on agriculture) sold the majority stake of its Caesarstone’s shares to the public for $260 million, a hefty amount for its 400 members, who are now wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

With a market cap of over $1 billion, Caesarstone’s shares now trade for $29. The company has several manufacturing facilities in Israel and in the US.

SEE ALSO: A New Kibbutz? WeWork’s Urban Community WeLive Could Revolutionize City Living

Caesarstone pioneered the quartz surfaces, which consist of up to 93 percent quartz (a mineral found in nature). According to the company, this type of surface retains “the cool tactile qualities of nature’s strong stones, while offering freedom of design with enormous application possibilities, including kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, flooring, wall paneling, furniture and more.”

While Caesarstone’s products are highly functional, their stunning designs have become widely popular among upscale interior designers around the world.



Until recently, creating a website was a skillful task reserved for professional designers and web masters. But since Israeli company Wix launched its do-it-yourself platform a couple of years ago, anybody can create and publish their own websites, with easy-to-use, drag-and-drop tools and stunning templates.

Since the basic design (and domain name) package is free, 94 million small businesses (including hotels and restaurants) and individuals around the world are using Wix (NASDAQ: WIX) to build and maintain their web and mobile sites. With a market cap of $2.2 billion, Wix’s shares trade for $51 on NASDAQ.

The company was founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami and Giora Kaplan on the belief that the internet should be accessible to everyone to develop, create and contribute. The company is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, with additional offices across Israel, Europe and the US.

Mazor Robotics

Mazor Robotics’ guidance systems enable surgeons to conduct spine and brain procedures in a precise manner.

Founded in 2001, the company’s intuitive interface helps surgeons plan operations in a virtual 3D environment, creating a surgical blueprint for better accuracy.

The story of Mazor Robotics (NASDAQ: MZOR) began at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The company was officially founded by Prof. Moshe Shoham and Eli Zehavi, but the work had begun years earlier with Shoham, the head of the Robotics Laboratory at the Technion, conducting research to develop a new and innovative platform for surgery.

Photos and videos: Rafael Matsunaga, Wix, ReWalk, Mobileye, Caesarstone

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World AIDS Day: Israel’s PrePex Device Will Circumcize Millions To Cut HIV Risk By 60% Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:00:58 +0000 More than two-thirds of all people living with HIV, some 24.7 million in total, live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the benefits of circumcision, the removal of the foreskin of the penis, is a lower risk of HIV transmission. “There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent,” the WHO states.

Last week, Israeli-American entrepreneur Tzameret Fuerst, the former CEO of Circ MedTech, the developer of PrePex, a non-surgical circumcision device, addressed the ninth annual Geektime Tech Conference in Tel Aviv. PrePex, the first medical device in Israel’s history to be approved by the WHO, allows for the performing of circumcisions on a mass scale, with no incisions, bleeding, or injected anesthesia.

PrePex has already been used in more than 250,000 procedures in 13 countries in Africa and Asia. In total, the company has delivered more than 1 million devices which, according to mathematical models, would prevent approximately 150,000 new HIV cases.  In addition, there are currently over 1,000 PrePex trained healthcare providers, 16 PrePex training centers and the company is collaborating with more than 45 NGOs on the ground.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Doctors Teach Male Circumcision To African Doctors To Combat Aids

The circumcision procedure, which usually happens when a boy is a baby (although some brave men opt for it in adulthood) is also practiced in Judaism and Islam as a religious ritual. Circumcision is widespread in the U.S., and according to a recent review by the Mayo Clinic, 77 percent of male babies born in hospitals are later circumcised.

However, until very recently, circumcision has not been widely practiced in sub-Saharan Africa due to the relatively high cost of the procedure, the need for a sterile environment and medical expertise – and the understandable reluctance of patients to undergo such a delicate procedure.

Enter PrePex, an ideal cost-effective circmucision device staring at just $12 per unit. A non-reusable device, with PrePex circumcisions can be carried out by lower-level medical professionals and nurses (a fact that is crucial in countries like Rwanda, which has just over 300 doctors treating a population of over 11 million) and does not require the sterile environment of an operating room.

A simple device

The PrePex device is made up of two rings and a special rubber strap. The rubber strap’s purpose is to cut circulation to the foreskin. The foreskin decays and falls off within a week, then the device is removed and the procedure ends.


PrePex device

At the conference, Fuerst explained how the company developed the product in 2009, after the WHO reported that circumcizing adult males can reduce the spread of HIV by 60 percent. A later study further explained that adult circumcision reduces bacteria on the penis, and thus the spread of the disease.

PrePex has been acknowledged by African governments as an effective means of scaling-up male circumcision programs and generating demand among men.  Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care recently included the PrePex device as an integral part of its national VMMC Action Plan with a target of circumcising 1.3 million men by 2018. South Africa and Uganda are in advanced stages of PrePex implementation, and have each set a goal of reaching more than four million men with male circumcision services. Other countries – such as Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Lesotho and Swaziland – are in varying phases of PrePex implementation.

Circumcising Rwanda

Rwanda is a country of over 11 million people of which three percent is HIV positive. In Rwanda, the Ministry of Health aims to circumcise 800,000 men by 2016, through a massive PrePex rollout. Fuerst traveled to Rwanda to oversee the procedure herself and held a joint press conference with the Rwandan Health Minister as well.

SEE ALSO: Breakthrough Israeli Device Will Circumcise 700,000 Rwandans To Prevent HIV/AIDS

“Circumcision is the most efficient tool to fight HIV/AIDS,” Rwanda Health Minister Doctor Agnes Binagwaho told the BBC.

tzameret fuerst

Tzameret Fuerst (speaking and pictured with Rwanda’s Health Minister)

“We are proud to demonstrate our commitment towards an AIDS-free generation together with our partners in the HIV/AIDS prevention field,” Circ MedTech’s CEO Eddy Horowitz said in a statement. “Through this initiative we can prevent transmission of diseases, reduce costs to public health systems and save countless lives.”

Currently available for ages 13 and up

The company says that the PrePex device is currently available for adult males and also for adolescent boys age 13 and above.

As for males under the age of 13, Circ MedTech Ltd. has received the CE Mark for the use of its PrePex Infant and PrePex Child devices, which will extend the range of safe male circumcision services to all ages worldwide. Clinical studies on the newly-developed PrePex sizes have resulted in positive outcomes and the devices for males under the age of 13 will be available in the near future.

“PrePex provides an easier, more convenient and cost-effective way of conducting male circumcision, both for patients and for healthcare providers,” Horowitz said in a statement. “With our introduction of the non-surgical device for infants and children, PrePex will improve the male circumcision experience for men, boys and infants worldwide.”

Health News: Israeli Device Used To Circumcise 700,000 Africans In The Fight Against HIV

The PrePex

International recognition

PrePex has been acknowledged by African Ministers of Health, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, US government officials and many others. The company has also won several awards as well. PrePex received the Gold Innovation Lions Award at the 2016 Cannes International Festival of Creativity; Laureate of the 2015 Tech Awards; and the GBH Health 2012 Business Action on Health Award. Also, it was just announced that Frost & Sullivan has recognized Circ MedTech Ltd. with the 2016 Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation.

One of the many impressive endorsements came from none other than Microsoft Founder Bill Gates. In his 2012 Annual Letter, published on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website, he wrote: “Even in the ancient practice of circumcision, innovation has the potential to make a big difference. The new PrePex devices simplify the procedure and make surgery unnecessary. The first studies suggest that these devices are both safe and effective.”

Photos and Video: PrePex, Hoff Reshef

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Israeli Startups Take Major Medical Competition By Storm, Win Top Three Awards Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:23:59 +0000 Three Israeli medical startups – UpRight, Biop Medical and TytoCare – have won the top awards at the fifth annual MEDICA App Competition for Best Medical Mobile Solution. Held in Dusseldorf, Germany, earlier this month, the competition was part of one of the world’s largest medical trade fairs, which attracted over 5,000 exhibitors from 70 countries.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups Revolutionizing Everyday Healthcare

Of the 15 startups that made it to the final round of the competition, nine were from Israel. Each team had three minutes to pitch their mobile solution, followed by one minute for questions from the judges. Finally, after all the presentations were completed, the judges deliberated and chose the top three winners.

UpRight's team receiving the award

UpRight’s team receiving the award

UpRight: No more slouching

The first place, along with a €2,000 prize, went to UpRight, an app and a wearable device that help correct your posture. Founded in 2012 by Oded Cohen and Ori Fruhauf, UpRight’s discrete wearable device attaches to your lower back (under your shirt) and trains you to stand and sit upright. Every time you slouch, it gently vibrates, reminding you to correct your posture.

“We have a new Android app, improved features, and you can now finally find UpRight in retail stores in San Francisco and New York City,” Fruhauf tells NoCamels.

The company has so far raised $3 million from investors.

Biop Medical: Detecting cervical cancer

Biop Medical was awarded the second place, along with a €1,000 prize, for its innovative point-of-care testing device for the early diagnosis of cervical cancer, one of the most frequently occurring malignant tumors in women worldwide. The test is based on the notion that the characteristics of healthy and diseased tissue can be distinguished from each other optically, by using an automated system.

Biop’s optical device, which is pending an FDA approval, is used to view the cervix. The data are then analyzed on the IBM cloud using a special algorithm. The result is produced within minutes.

Founded in 2013 by CEO Ilan Landesman, BiopMedical is based in Netanya and has already raised $2.3 million from investors.

SEE ALSO: Israeli App Belong Helps Cancer Patients, Families Through Healing Process

TytoCare: Medical exams any time, anywhere

Third place, and a €500 prize, went to TytoCare, an Israeli startup that offers a telemedicine solution that enables virtual doctor’s visits and fairly comprehensive medical examinations to be carried out anywhere at any time.

Imagine you could skip the waiting time for a doctor’s appointment. TytoCare has developed an innovative hand-held instrument, called Tyto, which is able to detect and classify common diseases such as flu or ear infections. The kit includes a stethoscope, an otoscope and a computer-vision camera that helps the user diagnose the problem. In case a doctor is needed, the device can also be used to connect with a specialist for a remote consultation. The Tyto Stethoscope has already received FDA approval, and the other devices are FDA compliant.

Founded by Israelis Dedi Gilad and Ofer Tzadik in 2012, the company has so far raised $18.5 million from investors. Among the startup’s investors is US drugstore chain Walgreens.TytoCare, throat, doctor

The other six Israeli companies among the 15 finalists were: Vision-care app 6over6; bed-wetting solution TheraPeeElfi-Tech  for personal health monitoring, patient monitoring and diagnostics; MyndYou analytics for improving cognitive care; Somatix data-analytics software platform for digital health; and the Medivizor personalized health information app.

Photos and video: UpRight, BiopMedical, TytoCare

Edwards Lifesciences Buys Israel’s Valtech Cardio For Up To $1 Billion Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:42:32 +0000

Edwards Lifesciences Corporation, a California-based medical equipment firm specializing in heart disease, announced Monday it is acquiring Valtech Cardio Ltd., an Israeli company behind the Cardioband System, for up to $1 billion.

SEE ALSO: A Heart Of Gold: Researchers Use Gold Particles To Heal Heart Tissue

Valtech‘s system treats the most prevalent heart valve diseases, including mitral valve regurgitation (MR) and tricuspid valve regurgitation. The uniqueness of the Cardioband System is that it is done through the skin, allowing doctors to perform the necessary reconstruction with a direct annuloplasty (a surgical technique for the repair of leaking mitral valves) delivered through arteries, negating the need for open-heart surgery. Although such devices are complex and expensive, they cut down on many of the risks and costs associated with serious surgeries, making them more attractive to national insurances as well as patients.

Pricetag: $690 million, could be as much as $1 billion

Edwards will pay Valtech $340 million in stock and cash up front, plus up to $350 million more in performance-based milestone payments over the next 10 years, for a sum total of $690 million. Before the sale’s completion, slated for early 2017, Valtech intends to spin off its early-stage transseptal mitral valve replacement technology program. Edwards has an option to buy it, which could add another $300 million to the deal, bringing the total to nearly $1 billion.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Amir Gross, Yossi Gross, and Peregrine Ventures and headed by Eyal Lifshitz and Boaz Lifshitz, Valtech is based in Or Yehuda, near Tel Aviv. The company has raised $70 million to date. Last year HeartWare signed an agreement to buy the company for $840 million but backed out of the deal in January.

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

“A toolbox of options” for medical treatment

According to the Mayo Clinic, Mitral valve regurgitation — also called mitral regurgitation, mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence — is a condition in which your heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in your heart. As a result, blood can’t move through your heart or to the rest of your body as efficiently, making you feel tired or out of breath.

“As we continue to pursue multiple therapies to address the diverse needs of patients affected by heart valve disease, we saw an important opportunity to incorporate Valtech’s technologies into our comprehensive heart valve repair and replacement portfolio,” Michael A. Mussallem, Edwards’ chairman and CEO said in a statement. “We recognize that physicians will likely need a toolbox of options to treat their patients most effectively.  We are very pleased with the progress and future prospects of the multiple internal programs we have underway, and we believe the addition of Valtech’s talented team and mitral and tricuspid [valve] technologies will present even more opportunities to help patients.”

Valtech, Amir Gross, valtech cardio

Amir Gross (center) and the Valtech Cardio team

Photos and video: Valtech PR

Diet Startup ‘DayTwo’ Creates Unique Personalized Diets By Checking Your… Gut Bacteria Sun, 27 Nov 2016 10:52:23 +0000 High blood sugar level is a risk factor for many complications, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. That’s why doctors recommend we control our blood sugar levels by keeping a healthy, low-sugar diet.

But DayTwo, an Israeli startup spun off the Weizmann Institute, suggests that people have different responses to food. As it turns out, ice cream is less harmful to some people than others, and so are many other foods.

It all depends on the different microbes we have in our guts. By studying and analyzing your individual gut microbiome – the vast collection of bacteria that you host – DayTwo claims it can translate your unique gut bacteria into a personalized diet, potentially preventing diabetes and heart disease. The startup provides a cutting-edge test and app for a one-time fee of $500.

SEE ALSO: Could Personalized Diets Prevent Diabetes And Heart Disease?

DayTwo‘s product is based on research (published in the sceintific journal Cell) conducted by Prof. Eran Segal and Dr. Eran Elinav of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science; the research technology was licensed to DayTwo.

According to the researchers, some people respond to so-called healthy diets, while others don’t. They claim that bacteria in our intestinal tract vary among individuals, and therefore people digest food differently.

Your gut microbiome is the collection of all microbes that exist in your digestive tract and help you digest food. In our gut alone, we have about 100 trillion microbes, similar to the number of cells that we have in our entire body. Your microbiome is unique to you, and influences the way your body reacts to different foods.


“The huge differences that we found in the rise of blood sugar levels among different people who consumed identical meals highlights why personalized eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy than universal dietary advice,” Segal said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: It’s Official: One Glass Of Wine A Day Improves Cardiovascular Health, Diabetes

Founded in 2015 by CEO Lihi Segal and Yuval Ofek, DayTwo is the brainchild of Segal and Elinav. The startup has already received funding from billionaire Marius Nacht, the co-founder of successful Israeli cyber-security firm Check Point. His investment is estimated at a couple of million dollars.

“Foods that are perceived as healthy for everyone are not recommended for some people”

How does DayTwo work? First, you provide a stool sample, through a kit sent by DayTwo, along with your most up-to-date blood test results. DayTwo sequences the DNA of your gut microbes, the micro-organisms that help us digest.

Then, DayTwo’s technology predicts which foods are good for you. Analyzed by a patent-pending algorithm, the technology provides a unique nutritional profile designed just for you. The startup’s scoring system rates thousands of different foods and food combinations based on your gut microbiome analysis and lifestyle factors.


Then, you receive a nutritional report through a personalized nutrition app. The report provides you with specific food recommendations for normalizing blood sugar levels throughout the day and night. It generates food recommendations specific to your gut makeup, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The app also analyzes your daily eating routines and recommends healthy snacks.

According to CEO Lihi Segal, “our food recommendations are based on matching thousands of foods to the individual’s profile. The findings are very surprising: Foods that are perceived as healthy for everyone, such as rice, are not recommended for some people. In some cases, it turns out that foods like ice cream are not harmful.”


Photos and video: Courtesy

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Novel Treatment Reverses Effects Of Alzheimer’s Disease Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:29:41 +0000 Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that damages brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in brain functions. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.4 million Americans live with the disease.

For years, researchers have been trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, but despite some success in slowing the progression of the disease, it remains incurable.

Now, Israeli scientists are focusing on the genes that could be responsible for the neurodegenerative disease, rather than on the plaque that clogs affected brains (one of the distinctive features of Alzheimer’s). After treating mice that had the “bad” Alzheimer’s gene, the rodents were able to identify Coke bottles and perform other cognitively sophisticated tasks!

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Offers Hope For Alzheimer’s Disease With Unique Treatment

Social Awareness: 'Big Brother' Study Sheds Light On Mice's Social Structure

Potentially changing the paradigm of Alzheimer’s research, Tel Aviv University researchers have found that the APOE gene (which tells the body how to make a certain protein) has, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, two faces: a healthy form, called APOE3, and a disease-related pathological form, called APOE4. They have developed a novel mechanism with which to convert the “bad” APOE4 to the “good” APOE3. Using certain enzymes, the researchers reversed the effect of the “bad” APOE gene.

TAU’s Prof. Daniel Michaelson, who led the study, explains that the normal APOE gene provides the interface that moves lipids — naturally occurring molecules that include fats, cholesterol, vitamins and other components essential to the health of cells — in and out of cells. “Whereas the healthy APOE3 does so effectively, the bad form — APOE4 — is impaired,” he said in a statement.

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

The researchers devised an experimental approach to measure the “bad” features of APOE4, utilizing genetically manipulated mice expressing either good or bad forms of APOE. Mice with APOE4 exhibited impaired learning and memory, as well as damaged brain synapses, two pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

The TAU team then showed how mice, which prior to the “conversion” treatment exhibited disoriented behavior and seemed “lost,” were able following treatment to locate a submerged island in the middle of an artificial pond. Mice that had forgotten familiar objects — like Coca Cola bottles — suddenly exhibited sharp object recognition.

“APOE4 is a very important and understudied target,” Michaelson says. “It is expressed in more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients. Anti-APOE4 treatments are thus expected to have a major impact on the patient population.”

Elderly couple

The study, recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, was led by TAU’s Prof. Daniel M. Michaelson and doctoral fellow Anat Boehm-Cagan, in collaboration with biotechnology company Artery Therapeutics.

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