Diabetics must be regularly examined by their ophthalmologist to look for
leakage of blood inside the retinas of their eyes, which could result in
Now the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s technology transfer
arm, Yissum Research Development Company, has patented a method for detecting
retinal microaneurysms that pose a high risk for leakage. The novel method will
enable early diagnosis and treatment of the condition, potentially minimizing
damage and saving vision.
Dr. Yaakov Nahmias and his team from HU’s
Center for Bioengineering developed a computational method to identify
microvascular regions with high risk of leakage based on fluid dynamics. The
scientists found that high risk is correlated with increased level of a protein
called Von Willebrand factor (vWF), which has been associated with early
development of diabetic retinopathy. Retinal microaneurysms reduce vision
because they eventually cause fluid leakage from blood vessels and retinal
Localized leakage can be detected and treated using laser
ablation, slowing the progression of diabetic blindness.
could lead to targeted therapy or clinical detection using vWF. By enabling
early detection of high-risk areas, treatment of diabetic retinopathy can shift
from a reactive treatment to a preventive one, not only preventing blindness but
also saving millions of dollars in medical costs.
Diabetic retinopathy is
one of the leading causes of blindness in the Western world, affecting over 4
million people in the US alone, and treating the condition there costs $1
billion a year. With the growing prevalence of diabetes, these numbers are
expected to double within the next few years.
HOPE FOR PRESSURE SORES
Bedsores in elderly patients with weak immune systems can, if not properly
treated, spread sepsis to other organs and lead to surgery and even death.
Fortunately, a new technique called the VAC Therapy System has been shown to be
successful in treating many cases since it was included in the basket of health
services two years ago. However, it is still not widely known among patients and
even some doctors.
Called negative pressure therapy, the technique was
developed by the US company Kinetic Concepts, Inc., which was the first in the
world to offer it. The company has a local branch, Chemitec, in Hod Hasharon but
offers care to the bedridden around the country who are members of any of the
four public health funds.
A box about the size of an A4 page of paper
creates a vacuum to remove the liquid in the wound. A sponge and tube are
attached to remove the liquid and heal the wound, says KCI chief medical officer
Dr. Ron Silverman, who studied plastic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital
of Harvard Medical School and went on to practice plastic and reconstructive
surgery (which includes wound care) full-time for 10 years at the University of
Maryland Medical Center. He visited Israel recently and told The Jerusalem
Postthere is also a liquid rinse that can promote healing even
Silverman noted that the technology can be used for incision
management after open heart surgery. If the sutures open, the device can hold
the sides of the cut together, especially in obese people. The success rate of
the treatment is about 85 percent, he said.
KCI is dedicated to helping
others harness the power of the body to heal and regenerate. We provide
therapies and technologies in the areas of advanced wound healing, regenerative
medicine and pressure ulcer prevention that provide significant clinical and
economic benefit. Our vision is to be recognized globally as a premier provider
of innovative, high technology medical therapies and products that improve
patients’ lives and deliver significant clinical and economic
benefit.”ANTI-SHINGLES VACCINE AVAILABLE
The long-awaited vaccine
against varicella zoster virus (VZV) called Zostavax and made by the Sanofi
Pasteur MSD company has finally been approved by the Health Ministry for use in
adults aged 60 and above. VZV is one of eight herpes viruses known to infect
humans and vertebrates. It commonly causes chickenpox in children, teens and
young adults, but can hibernate for decades in the nerves, resulting in the
painful condition of herpes zoster (shingles) in adults (and in rare cases, in
Nearly 30,000 Israelis are estimated to suffer from shingles
each year. There is no specific treatment, only painkillers that do not
eliminate the serious discomfort – patients just have to wait until it goes
away. The condition is annually responsible for 16,000 health fund clinic visits
and 3,000 hospitalization days.
The vaccine, which has been used for
years in the US and elsewhere, is not included in the basket of health
The cost is NIS 400 per person and can be obtained as part of
supplementary health insurance or at private pharmacies.RESTLESS LEGS
Men who suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) may have a higher risk of
dying earlier, according to research that appeared recently in the journal
Neurology. The disorder is characterized by an irresistible urge to move the
legs and often causes leg sensations of burning, creeping and tugging, which are
usually worse at night. “RLS affects 5 to 10% of adults,” said study author Dr.
Xiang Gao of the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical
“Our study highlights the importance of recognizing this common
but underdiagnosed disease.”
For the study, 18,425 men with an average
age of 67 who did not have diabetes, arthritis or kidney failure were evaluated
for RLS. (Although RLS can occur in children, the study did not assess whether
there was a long-term risk in this population.) A total of 690 of the men, or
3.7%, met the criteria for RLS at the beginning of the study. During the eight
years of study follow-up, 2,765 of the participants died. Of the people with
RLS, 171 or 25%, died during the study, compared to 2,594 or 15% of those who
did not have it.
The study found that men with RLS had a nearly 40%
increased risk of death compared to men without it. The association dropped only
slightly after adjusting for factors such as body mass index, lifestyle, chronic
conditions, lack of sleep and other sleep disorders. When the researchers
excluded people with major chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and
high blood pressure from the analysis, the association between RLS and an
increased risk of death rose to 92% higher than those without RLS.
found that the increased risk was not associated with the usual known risk
factors, such as older age, being overweight, lack of sleep, smoking, being
physically inactive and having an unhealthy diet,” Gao said. “The increased
mortality in RLS was more frequently associated with respiratory disease,
endocrine disease, nutritional/metabolic disease and immunological disorders.
Through research, we need to pinpoint why and how RLS leads to this possible
higher risk of dying early.”