Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have
discovered a way to reverse the aging process by removing old B lymphocytes – a
kind of white blood cell in vertebrate immune systems – from old mice and
forcing the production of young, potent cells to replace them. The findings were
reported in the January 2011 issue of the scientific journal Blood.
with every aging process in the body, it is generally thought that immune system
aging, including that of the B cell population, is a progressive process that
cannot be stopped or reversed,” says lead researcher Prof. Doron Melamed of the
Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.
“But we have succeeded in
showing that it is possible to turn back the aging process.”
system gets weaker with age – a fact reflected by a significant increase in
illness among the elderly, and a dramatic decrease in their ability to respond
to vaccination. The B lymphocytes are major cellular components in the function
of the immune system, and responsible for antibody production.
to Melamed, many studies have shown the B cell population undergoes dramatic
reductions with age as a result of a decline in the body’s ability to produce
new B cells, and a selection process that leads to an accumulation of old B
cells with a limited response capability.
Using old mice, the Technion
researchers showed that active removal of the B cells changes the body’s
cellular homeostasis and generates conditions of chronic deficiency in these
cells. To overcome this, the body reactivates the bone marrow, forcing it to
produce B cells again at a rate not different than that which exists in young
mice. The researchers found that the newly generated B cells replaced the old
cells that were removed and led to up to 400% improvement in the ability of the
treated mice to respond to vaccinations.
“This paper shows – for the
first time – that physiological aging is a regulated process that can be
reversed,” Melamed concludes. “It also presents a novel approach for
rejuvenating the immune system and for enhancing the efficacy of vaccination
among the elderly population.”
BOOST TO WOMEN IN PERIPHERY
Galilee Government Hospital in Nahariya rarely makes news, largely because it is
smaller than major medical centers and located in the periphery. But its
development is important news for the half-million people living in its
catchment area in the Western Galilee. Headed by Dr. Masad Barhoum, the first
Arab Israeli to direct a government general hospital, the facility has laid the
cornerstone for a new women’s health division, and will set up an in-vitro
fertilization unit – the last general hospital to get one.
women’s health division will reduce healthcare gaps among women, said Barhoum,
who attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony along with Social Affairs and
Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman,
and Raya Strauss – the philanthropist who is honorary president of the
hospital’s friends’ organization.
“We are racing forward for half a
million residents to provide the most advanced medical care,” said the hospital
The new women’s health division will be established on
14,000 square meters including a sheltered underground facility and four floors
above ground,” Barhoum said at the ceremony, allowing for widespread advancement
in the medical staff's ability to coordinate all medical services for women in a
single facility. The projected cost of the new structure stands at NIS 160
million, which is being funded through various channels, including Jewish and
Christian organizations worldwide.
The hospital houses the busiest
delivery rooms north of Tel Aviv, with over 6,000 births yearly. “The new
division will provide a level of service and care that were once only available
to women of the center... We will be providing the most advanced care required
by women today in a professional and modern setting,” said Prof. Jacob
Bornstein, director of women’s health.
Current facilities are outdated,
since their construction was in the 1960s and they no longer meet the needs of
modern medicine. As a result, women’s health care services are scattered
throughout the hospital and create the need to transfer patients during
treatment from one building to another. It is uncomfortable for patients and
very difficult for the medical staff, he said.
HOW LONG TO WAIT?
an overweight woman due to have bariatric surgery to lose kilos wait to get
pregnant for a year or more? This question was looked into by Prof. Eyal
Scheiner, a senior obstetrician at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba
who recently published his study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and
Gynecology. Scheiner, who conducted the research with Dr. Amos Edri at
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, examined over 100 women who got pregnant
less than a year after bariometric surgery. Their conditions were compared with
385 women who became pregnant more than a year afterwards.
that the results were similar in both groups, with no more complications
resulting either from the stomach-shortening surgery or the delivery. Scheiner
noted that bariatric surgery has become more and more popular. The American
Obstetrics and Gynecology Society advise postponing pregnancy for 12 to 18
months after bariatric surgery. But in fact, he said, the recommendation has
never been studied.
Scheiner said the guidelines on postponing pregnancy
for at least a year are “problematic,” as many obese women wanted to get
pregnant but did not succeed because of their weight. Thus intentionally waiting
is difficult. Edri and Scheiner concluded that there was no reason to wait a
long period after bariatric surgery, but rather to suit each woman’s individual
condition and needs.