Israeli medical science will not bring back to life the 5 Israelis murdered in the Burgas airport terrorist attack in Bulgaria last week but hopefully it can rebuild the shattered lives of those injured and traumatised. An insane global death culture is trying to poison our planet, but Israel combats them with medical treatments and devices that will save millions of lives across the planet.
The forces of light have been hard at work at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. Scientists there have developed a method to refocus scattered light. It can lead to medical lasers performing operations on organs deep inside the body, without cutting intervening skin or tissue. In laboratories at the Hebrew University and at Weizmann, scientists have made the “life and death” discovery of peptide tBID that is one of the keys to cell death. They have also been able to mimic tBID’s behaviour with another peptide MTCH2, which “could lead to new approaches to treating cancer.”
The weapons in the war against cancer sometimes act like guided missiles. Immune Pharmaceuticals, who have also been working with the Weizmann Institute, is building an Israel-based Centre of Excellence for Monoclonal Antibody Drug Development. It will support the Israeli biotechs and science institutes that lead the way in developing medicines that contain toxic molecules but only target cancerous tissue. To fight cancer, just as in the fight against global terror, international co-operation is vital. Israeli Biotech BioView is integrating its cancer scanning systems with French company ScreenCell’s technology to isolate rare tumour cells. The combined solution will improve diagnosis and speed up medical decisions about the best treatment options.
One of Israel’s best-known innovative medical devices – Given Imaging’s PillCam internal camera – has just been given insurance clearance by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in order for it to be used as a first line tool to diagnose intestinal disorders. We now navigate into the arteries to hear about a joint American-Israeli project. US biotech ValCare is to open a centre in Israel to develop a heart valve repair device that can be implanted using a catheter, thus avoiding open-heart surgery. The device prevents mitral valve regurgitation (blood flowing backwards into the heart) something that affects 4 million US citizens. And for the first time in Israel, Shaare Zedek Medical Center cardiologists have used a tiny balloon filled with helium to destroy diseased cardiac tissue that caused three patients’ heartbeats to go haywire and endanger their lives.
Often a new Israeli medical discovery or innovation is totally stunning. Well here is one of each. The discovery is by scientists at the Hebrew University who have just identified the processes that turn human embryonic stem cells into any type of body cell. It could eventually lead to implanting healthy new cells into humans suffering from degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The innovation is that of Israeli biotech Medgenics’ Biopump which manipulates a patient’s own tissue to produce proteins to fight diseases. It eliminates the need for hundreds of vaccines and has the potential to “start a whole new pharmaceutical industry”. Medgenics is shortly to begin human trials in Israel on dialysis patients and sufferers of hepatitis C and D.
To conclude, some of the Burgas victims may have lost limbs but they will hopefully be able to benefit from the same technology as some of Israel’s wounded IDF ex-soldiers. Eight disabled IDF veterans are to receive new, top of the line Genium bionic knees, enabling them, for the first time in years, to run, jog and ride a bicycle. And finally, until a crippling motorcycle accident in 1999, Israeli high-tech exec Nati Gruberg was a paunchy couch potato. He jokes that he barely lifted a finger. In August, though, he’ll be one of three Israeli handcyclists battling for medals at the London Paralympic Games.
With the help of Israeli medicine, we will all be winners.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.