Children who have steady habits such as regular schedules for eating, bathing
and going to bed are considered by parents to have desirable behavior. However,
when these routines are combined with oral and tactile sensitivities such as
discomfort at the dentist or irritation caused by specific fabrics, these
rituals could be an early warning sign of adult obsessive compulsive disorder
So says Prof. Reuven Dar of Tel Aviv University’s psychology
He first suspected the link while working with OCD patients
who reported sensitivity to touch and taste as children. Now, in the first
comprehensive study of its kind, Dar and his colleagues have established a
direct correlation between sensory processing – the way the nervous system
manages incoming sensory information – and ritualistic and obsessive-compulsive
The study, which appears in the Journal of Behavior Therapy
and Experimental Psychiatry, suggests that when children have heightened levels
of sensitivity, they develop ritualistic behaviors to better cope with their
environment. In the long term, this is one potential pathway to OCD. Two studies
were devised to map the connection between sensory processing, rituals and OCD.
In the first, parents of kindergarten children were asked to complete three
questionnaires on their child’s behavior.
They were asked about their
level of ritualism, such as the need to repeat certain acts or to order objects
in a particular way; level of anxiety and reactions to everyday sensory events
such as being touched or exposed to unusual tastes or smells.
second study, the researchers asked 314 adult participants to answer surveys
online in relation to their OCD tendencies, their anxiety levels and their past
and current sensitivity to oral and tactile stimulation. Results from both
studies indicated a strong connection between compulsive tendencies and
hypersensitivity. In children hypersensitivity was an indicator of ritualism,
while in adults it was related to OCD symptoms. As a whole, these findings
provide preliminary support for the idea that such sensitivities are a precursor
to OCD symptoms.
When children are extremely sensitive to certain types
of touch or smell, they may feel that they are being attacked or that the
environment is threatening them, Dar believes. Ritualism could develop as a
defense mechanism, helping these children to regain a sense of control, which is
also true of adults with OCD. Dar now intends to conduct a longitudinal study to
better understand the connection between hypersensitivity in children and
All children have particular habits and preferences, and they
don’t all mean a future of OCD, concludes Dar. So what should parents watch for
to correctly characterize normal versus potentially pathological behavior? “If
you see that a child is very rigid with rituals, becoming anxious if unable to
engage in this behavior, it is more alarming,” he explains. Age is also a
factor; a habit exhibited by a child of five or six is not necessarily a
predictor of OCD. If the same behavior continues to the ages of eight and above,
it could be a warning sign, especially if accompanied by anxiety or distress, he
suggests.TARGETED CANCER STRATEGY
A strategy for inhibiting a protein
associated with the spread of cancer has won a Hebrew University doctoral
student in chemistry one of this year’s Kaye Innovation Awards at the
university. The innovation, developed by Yftah Tal-Gan, a student of
Chaim Gilon and Prof. Alexander Levitzki at the chemistry
institute, focuses on the inhibition of protein kinase B (PKB). Since the
activation of PKB is associated with cancer, selective inhibition of this
protein is a promising strategy for targeted cancer therapy.
method is based on mimicking the interaction of PKB with other proteins it comes
into contact with. He accomplished this through the use of peptides, which can
be used as protein “mimics” because they are built from the same amino acid
building blocks as proteins.
However, peptides lack some important
pharmacological properties, such as stability.
engineering, Tal-Gan managed to convert an active peptide inhibitor of PKB,
named PTR6154, into a stable “mimic” that combines biological activity with
favorable pharmacological properties.
Selectively inhibiting PKB would
prevent it from inducing cancer cell survival and division. As a result, the
cancer cells would become susceptible to “death signals.” This could also
potentially be combined with specific anti-cancer drugs, thus further enhancing
the efficacy of the treatment method.
The Kaye Awards were established in
1994 by England’s Isaac Kaye, an industrialist in pharmaceuticals, to encourage
HU faculty, staff and students to develop innovative methods and inventions with
good commercial potential that will benefit the university and
society.DISPOSING OF OLD PILLS
New Health Ministry regulations will
require all the health funds to dispose safely of people’s medications that have
passed their expiration date so they are not abused by addicts or used by
children and do not leech into the ground and pollute water sources. Until now,
only Maccabi Health Services and Clalit Health Services have voluntarily
installed locked bins in their pharmacies and elsewhere so members may dispose
of outdated or unneeded medications.
Meanwhile, forced to balance
protecting public health against the inability of poor people to buy expensive,
lifesaving drugs that are not in the subsidized basket of medical technologies,
the ministry has issued new regulations allowing soon-to-expire medications to
be donated to special pharmacies run by voluntary organizations that will supply
them free to the needy.
Friends for Health (Haverim Lerefuah in Hebrew),
a non-profit religious organization that matches up needy patients with the
families of patients who have unused expensive drugs at home, has been
authorized to set up its first pharmacy that can receive medications from drug
importers and manufacturers that are close to expiry but still
This allows the organization ([email protected]
) to supply for
free medications such as expensive chemotherapy drugs not used up by patients
who have recovered and no longer need them or those who have died. Until now,
the organization has collected unneeded or unused drugs from such families then
supplied them directly to patients. With the new arrangement involving an
official Haverim pharmacy, the drugs will be kept in proper conditions (for
example, under refrigeration if necessary) and set aside for those who need them
but cannot afford them.
They will arrive at hospitals or clinics so they
do not have to be stored by the families themselves.
director-general Dr. Yoel Lipschitz said that he cannot intervene in the work of
religious charities (known in Hebrew as gemachim) around the country that have
for years given out cheap medications such as antibiotics to people on Shabbat
and holidays when the families will not go out and purchase them. Those
medicines requiring a doctor’s prescription are given the when a prescription is
shown, and for those and for over-the-counter drugs, the recipient later brings
the medication that he obtained from a pharmacy. The ministry worries about this
practice because the drugs may not have been stored in proper conditions, but it
is impossible to halt such private initiatives, Lipschitz said.