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n Israel Rushed Aid to Haiti Following January Quake

n Israeli Researcher Closing in on Cancer NOVEMBER, 2009— An Israeli research scientist has accidentally discovered a chemical compound that eradicates cancer cells without harming normal cells in the process. The substance may prove to be the long sought-after “holy grail” in the wider field of cancer treatment. For now, it shows promise as a specific weapon against breast cancer.


Prof. Malka Cohen-Armon, a biochemist at Tel Aviv University, tells IS-

RAEL21C that the compound is a component of a family of drugs developed 10 years ago to preserve nerve cells stressed by a stroke or inflammation. But further study showed the drugs were inappropriate for their intended use, and they were released only for research purposes. “We found that those drugs somehow turn on a mechanism in cancer

cells that causes them to die within 48 to 72 hours without harming normal tissue,” explains Cohen-Armon, a professor in the Neufeld Cardiac Research Institute of TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine. “In fact, the normal cells con- tinue to proliferate even in the presence of the drug.” In experiments with female mice, the compound was injected with

several types of cancerous tissue, particularly breast-cancer cells. Cohen- Armon was amazed to discover that the substance suspends cell division in both cancerous and normal body cells, but while cancer cells never recover, normal cells are back in business within 12 hours. A breakthrough that needs support At present Cohen-Armon and her team are restricted to exploring the

effects of this drug on breast cancer alone as the drug is patented to a US pharmaceutical corporation until 2017. The university’s technology transfer company, Ramot, has secured a usage patent enabling it to develop the drug to treat only breast cancer, and is reliant on the US company’s continuing goodwill. “These experiments, if undertaken by a pharmaceutical company, can

be completed in a shorter time because they have more resources. So we must find a company interested collaborating with us in developing this drug.”

Cohen-Armon has worked at the university for 26 years. “I am inter- ested in basic research, but now and then we have a breakthrough when I

notice something that could be applicable,” she says. SOURCE: ABIGAIL KLEIN LEICHMAN FOR ISRAEL 21C

n Israeli Tech for Better Airport Security JANUARY 6, 2010—New biometric airport technology from Israel unveiled yester- day could reduce airport security checks and make flights safer. Machines that recognize passengers using a biometric triple identifica-

tion system have been installed at Israel’s international airport. The biometric scanners are similar in size and appearance to cash ma-

chines. They first scan the passport, then the fingerprint and finally the Uni- pass card that contains personal details and allows airport security guards to access information about the traveler. The machines are fitted with cameras that snap a picture of the traveler

and compare it to the card. Travelers then answer basic security questions. Two hundred and fifty travelers have already signed up for the system,

which is currently only available to Israel’s flagship airline El Al’s business class passengers. The homegrown technology developed by the Airport Authority is the

first of its kind. While the Unipass system will not replace human checkers, it will make their job faster and more efficient. It is currently being tested and if successful will be installed at all Israeli ports and borders next year. Israel has long been a world leader in airport security, as a result of hi- jackings and other attacks in past decades.

SOURCE: Israel 21C

n New Wound Dressing Mimics Skin, Dissolves When Finished

JANUARY 15, 2010 A revolutionary, dissolvable wound dressing developed at Tel Aviv University could help reduce deaths caused by burn-related infec- tions. reports that currently, 70 percent of those with severe burns die from related infec- tions. Prof. Meital Zilberman of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Bio- medical Engineering has developed a new wound dressing that is filled with antibiotics and other healing agents, and that dissolves when the wound is healed. The dressing is based on fibers that Prof. Zilberman engineered. A

study published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research shows that the new dressing can eradicate infection-causing bacteria after only two days. “We’ve developed the first wound dressing that both releases antibi- otic drugs and biodegrades in a controlled manner,” Prof. Zilberman said. “It solves current mechanical and physical limitations in wound-dressing tech- niques, and gives physicians a new and more effective platform for treating burns and bedsores.” The ScienceDaily report explains that Prof. Zilberman designed the

dressing to mimic skin and the way it protects the body. “Wound dressings must maintain a certain level of moisture while acting as a shield,” she ex- plained. “Like skin, they must also enable fluids from the wound to leave the infected tissue at a certain rate. It can’t be too fast or too slow. If too fast, the wound will dry out and it won’t heal properly. If too slow, there’s a real risk of increased contamination.” The dressing thus combines positive mechanical and physical proper-

ties with what medical researchers call “a desired release profile of antibiot- ics.”

Prof. Zilberman is now starting the early stages of clinical trials on ani-

mal models. So far, her wound dressing has passed physical and mechanical tests in vitro and in bacterial inhibition tests in the laboratory. She is also seeking a strategic partner to co-develop the research and take it to the commercial stage.


JANUARY 14, 2010—With more than 100,000 people feared dead in Haiti, Israeli relief teams of over 200 people headed to earthquake ravaged Haiti in Foreign Ministry-leased air- planes. Among the Israeli teams on their way to provide humanitarian aid in Haiti is a medical team of 12 from IsraAID, an early response relief group that springs into action after natural disasters, as well as some 200 others called on by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

issued this announcement: “Israel is doing all in its power to help the people of Haiti cope with the disas- ter in their country. A 220-person delegation, headed by Ministry of

Foreign Affairs officials, will leave this evening for Port-Au- Prince on two Boeing 747 jets leased from El Al by the IDF. “The relief package includes a Home Front Command

field hospital and rescue unit, as well as teams from Magen David Adom and Israel Police.” Only the day before, Israel’s prime minister ordered the country’s Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Public Security Ministry officials to gather a team to help the Caribbean nation deal with its humanitarian crisis. Though the phone lines were down in Haiti, the Is-

raelis were able to establish contact with Amos Radian, the nearby Israel ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He has since been instructed to proceed to Haiti to report on the situation there, according to government reports. Meanwhile, the Israeli Embassy in the US has been

called on to coordinate Israeli efforts with American aid offices, so the Israelis will be ready to provide medical aid where it is most needed. A history of helping Mooli Dor, a businessman and board member of

IsraAID, and chairman of NISPED, an organization based in southern Israel that promotes peace and development, was pleased to see the quick and orchestrated response by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Usually, it is IsraAID that steps in at the Ministry’s behest, providing invaluable medical as- sistance wherever tragedy strikes. “This afternoon we are sending a delegation of 12

people,” said Dor. The medical and support staff will be flown to Port au Prince in the same aircraft as Israel’s For- eign Ministry. We’ve been trying to contact the local orga- nizations that are part of our network so we can see how to manage our volunteers. Yet, because of downed phone lines, we haven’t been able to make contact,” he continued. “We hope to make contact with them.” Reports on the ground say that dozens of UN staff

stationed in Haiti have been killed. As the dust settles, reporters at the scene are saying that the devastation is unimaginable. Strange twists of fate While Israel is just one of many countries rushing to

proffer aid, like the US, and many more, the teams from Israel also plan to provide emergency medical care over the next two or three weeks where they can “concentrate on medical assistance,” said Dor.

SOURCE: Karin Kloosterman for Israel 21C MARCH/APRIL 2010 Jewish Voice Today | 21

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