It has been another week where the really important news from the Jewish State has been dominated by the work that Israelis have been doing in order to make a “better” society for all to live in.
Hardly a week goes by without some positive news regarding Israel’s cancer drug developments. Israel’s Biocancell Therapeutics has just announced that phase 1/II(a) trials have proved BC-819 to be safe and effective in treating ovarian cancer. Simultaneously, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has raised hopes for those suffering from advanced prostate cancer. The world’s leading producer of generic drugs is expanding its trials of its Custirsen drug, combined with chemotherapy drug Jevtana. Teva have emphasised that this is a top priority within the Teva Oncology product-line.
Two heads are nearly always better than one. Over the coming months, Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee and University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine will explore the joint development of a cancer centre which will integrate scientific research. And along the coast, IBM Haifa has been developing its Clinical Genomics platform to analyse cancer patients for several years. It has now announced that it can now deliver personal treatment recommendations based on an interpretation of pathology results, as well as actual case documentation from hospital records. IBM says it will revolutionise the Healthcare industry.
In other medical news, a discovery by Tel Aviv University Professor Beka Solomon has led to not one, not two but three separate brain disease treatment products. In the latest announcement, US biotech NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals has raised finance to develop treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases caused by the misfolding of proteins in brain cells. Prof Solomon's discovery is already being used by Elan Corporation (USA) and Israel's NasVax. Meanwhile, SuperDimension - the top Israeli medical device company for diagnosing lung disease - has just been bought out by the global giant Covidian for $350 million. SuperDimension develops minimally invasive pulmonology devices.
Israel also has some unique alternative medical facilities. Visitors to Kibbutz Kishorit will appreciate that it is a very special kibbutz. All members have been diagnosed with a mental or emotional challenge; some have a physical challenge as well. But the 150 members live much as those on any other kibbutz. They go to work, eat communal meals, and enjoy activities such as yoga and acting in plays. Each has an assigned social worker. And 21 year-old Morad Azva’s life has been transformed after having been mute since an attack in 2007. After years of medical treatments made no progress, he was sent to the Dolphin Reef in Eilat for "dolphin therapy". There he, like autistic children previously, began to communicate through the interaction with dolphins.
In the global arena, Nigeria’s efforts to curb terrorist activities in some parts of the country will soon be boosted as a collaborative endeavour with Israel comes alive. And Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, reminded Americans that Israel is the only place in Middle East where Christians aren't endangered. He compared the expulsion of 800,000 Jews in the 20th Century with the Arab countries' current treatment of their Christian minorities.
I hope you have heard that schools in the South of Israel have been closed due to terrorist rockets from Gaza. To help alleviate the trauma felt by young kids under fire, the Israeli credit card company Isracard treated many of them to a day at the Jerusalem Ice Festival. And our Christian friends have again been providing help. Readers of Israel Today have teamed up with local charities to provide after school activities for children of single-parent or dysfunctional families that cannot provide for all their needs. They even provided a place to sleep, for the most needy kids in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo.
Just one relevant innovation to share with you this time- Israel’s Macademia Apps has developed “GroupShot to capture the best image of all members of a group. If Dad yawned at the wrong time, you can replace his face with another image of him just before he opened his mouth.
Finally, residents and visitors to Israel alike cannot fail to notice the abundance of feral cats. The British brought them in during the Mandate period, both as pets and to get rid of a rat problem. Now a new charity with the lovely name “Meow Mitzvah Mission of Israel” is working to reduce the number of cats on the streets – in the best possible way, of course.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.