Over the last week, national health services in the UK are trying to find solutions for prohibitive and largely ineffective medical treatments. These health services are under such great pressure to become more streamlined and effective that there have been recent demonstrations around the world to demand change in the way we access treatment and undergo medical procedures.
As in many other areas, the answer could come from Israel.
At the beginning of the 21st century, medicine is becoming more predictive, preventative and, above all, personalized. The saying “one size fits all,” was almost a mantra throughout the history of medicine, but is now falling into relative irrelevance and inappropriateness thanks to a burgeoning personalized medicine industry – and one of its epicenters is the State of Israel.
The terms ‘stratified,’ ‘personalized’ and ‘precision’ medicine all refer to the grouping of patients based on risk of disease or response to therapy, using diagnostic tests or techniques.
This approach provides an opportunity for patients and healthcare providers to benefit from more targeted and effective treatments, potentially delivering more healthcare gains and improved efficiency for the healthcare system, while offering industry an expanded market for specialized treatments and the opportunity to benefit from the incremental value delivered by more effective products.
Personalized medicine is essential to the development of methods for early, precise diagnosis of serious diseases and the development of effective and less toxic treatments based on the specific genetic profile of patients, with the understanding that this profile has a significant and specific impact on their response to treatments and medications.
Although the field of Personalized Medicine is still relatively young, it is growing at an unbelievable pace both in research, academia and in the pharmaceutical industry.
It will become the foundation block of disease prevention and cure, healing and wellness in the future, and for some – like The Dangoor Centre for Personalized Medicine at Bar-Ilan University, which I am honored to be connected to – the future is fast becoming the present.
THE THERAPIES, treatments and studies that are currently being undertaken are nothing short of revolutionary and have already shown astonishing results in being able to deal both with some of our worst diseases and most troubling ailments.
One researcher is developing nanoparticles capable of tracking the effects of cell-injection therapies for a number of diseases, including cancer and autism. The project’s goal is to develop a tracking nanoparticle that will be ready for clinical testing on human beings within four years. The nanoparticle will track the injected cells to see where they go in the body and what effects they produce, thereby enabling researchers to determine how successful the therapy is.
They have recently demonstrated a novel non-invasive cell-tracking technique which combines the use of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) as contrast agents and Computed Tomography (CT) as an imaging modality.
GNPs are biocompatible and have unique physical and chemical properties, making them attractive contrast agents for several imaging modalities. Specifically, the high atomic number of gold can induce strong x-ray attenuation, which makes GNPs ideal contrast agents for CT, which is one of the leading radiology technologies applied in the field of biomedical imaging. CT is characterized by high temporal and spatial resolution, and is among the most convenient imaging tools used in hospitals today in terms of availability, efficiency and cost.
Another researcher has invented ‘Nano-Drops’, a revolutionary, cutting-edge technology that potentially will provide a new alternative to eyeglasses, contact lenses and laser correction for refractive errors. The nano drops aim to improve both near-sightedness and far-sightedness.
These discoveries are ensuring that the treatment fits the patient and not the other way around, which far too frequently wastes time and resources, which can be invaluable in the fight against any disease or ailment.
NOT ONLY is Israel at the forefront of these new and many other technologies, but it also has some other advantages in this new and rapidly expanding field.
Because of its makeup, The State of Israel serves as a valuably unique clinic for the testing of disease mutations because of our unique DNA signature.
Being both extremely heterogeneous, by nature of having so many people of different ethnicities and backgrounds in one place, as well as each sub-group being largely homogeneous because of a tendency towards endogamy, means that Israel is highly placed to make important innovations and discoveries in personalized medicine.
This provides Israeli researchers with the ability to create platforms like the Genome Technology Center which provides researchers with technology platforms and protocols which are critical for understanding the structure of individual patients’ genomic profiles; discovering potential biomarkers; and identifying the drugs or therapies that might work for each patient.
This has very practical ramifications for the pharmaceutical industry.
Countries and pharmaceutical companies throughout the world are facing the economic challenge that is inherent in the development of many drugs that would be suitable only for a small number of patients.
As in many other technologies, the State of Israel stands at the cusp of new breakthroughs and innovations every single day, and it is certainly an exciting time to be involved in discoveries which are treating people and extending the life expectancy and quality of life – of people not just in Israel, but around the world.
In Israel, we are proudly developing medical efficacy for a moral mission: saving lives.
The writer is a British businessman and philanthropist who supports many educational and scientific programs in the UK, Israel and elsewhere. In 2017 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Israel’s Bar-Ilan University for his efforts to advance education, culture and science in the UK and Israel.