As we turn the pages of our calendars to begin a new secular year, what are the latest groundbreaking, life-changing discoveries, treatments and innovations to emerge from the Jewish State?
Israeli medical researchers continually uncover vital new information about our complex biological makeup. Technion Professor Itai Yanai has been studying the on-off status of each of the 20,000 genes in a cell for nearly 3 years and his discovery of embryonic development sequences could help understand how cancer develops. Meanwhile, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have demonstrated that brains of mammals (including humans) contain a 3D compass. It explains conditions such as vertigo and disorientation.
Moving into the medical treatment development pipeline, positive results of trials of ND0612H from Israel’s NeuroDerm, may mean that severe Parkinson’s disease patients could avoid surgery - the only current alternative. Almost simultaneously, Israeli biotech BioLineRX has announced successful Phase I/II trials of its BL-7010 co-polymer for the treatment of celiac disease, for which there is currently no cure or formal treatment.
Other recent Israeli developments include a new MRI technique from Israel’s Ben Gurion University that can detect damage to the brain much earlier than previously, when it is still treatable. Also, Israeli biotech Efranat Ltd. is developing a novel immunotherapy treatment for cancer. Meanwhile at Tel Aviv University, scientists have developed a new technique for detecting hazardous particles in the lungs. The test can be used in emergencies such as fire rescues or as a warning of high pollution levels. Finally, on Dec 3rd (International Disabilities Day) Beit Issie Shapiro launched its Technology Consulting Center, to share its expertise in the field of disabilities and technology.
Israel continues to be a world leader in the development of medical devices. Israel’s Novocurehas announced that its NovoTTF-100A portable scalp device extends the life of brain tumor patients. The day when the blind can see comes even closer thanks to scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University. They have developed a wireless, light-sensitive, flexible implantable film that mimics the function of the photosensitive cells in the retina and could potentially form part of a device to replace a damaged retina. The Israeli 3D printing company Stratasys is accelerating its expertise in building medical devices using 3D printed injection molding. With 3D printing, device prototypes can be produced in 95% less time and at 70% less cost compared with traditional aluminum molds.
So many of Israel’s latest hi-tech innovations could make a huge positive impact on society. In fact, Israel even has an organization called “Tech for Good,” that promotes technology development to solve social problems. So it was unsurprising that the Israeli winners of the inaugural Untold News Awards in New York included Professor Dan Peer, who developed the "Cancer Bullet" (an inject-able form of chemotherapy) and Professor Idan Tobis, who invented a metal ligament prosthesis that reduces recovery time dramatically. Then when Ben-Gurion University held a 28-hour “wearable technology” development marathon, the three winners were a student feedback system, a wearable locator device and a real-time translator.
Israel’s LifeBEAM has announced two more wearable innovations. The first is its new “smart” baseball cap that measures vitals such as heart-rate, calorie usage and walking posture. It complements Lifebeam’s cycling helmet, which has been available since 2013. LifeBEAM’s technology is also providing the technology to power Samsung’s answer to the Apple Watch. LifeBEAM’s sensor algorithms are embedded in Samsung’s Simband, measuring pulse, temperature, blood flow, skin conductivity and more.
Here are three recent Israeli innovations that can assist those involved in saving lives on a massive scale. Firstly, Israeli startup Kalisaya, which has developed the KaliPAK – a portable renewable power solution. It generates solar energy that can be used as an emergency backup generator in case of natural disasters. Staying with the disaster theme, Tomer Simon, a Ph.D. student at Ben Gurion University’s Department of Emergency Medicine, has developed TwitterMate - a tool for filtering Twitter for only those tweets connected with a particular incident or subject. And the development of the pocket printer by Israel’s ZUtA Labs moves forward with its latest prototype – enabling computer printing in challenging conditions.
Finally, to those readers who traditionally at this time of year make a resolution to lose weight. Israeli technology has arrived to help you succeed. Israel’s BitBite literally will whisper a word in your ear about your diet and provide you with real-time data to help you change your eating habits. BitBite is an app and an earpiece containing a microphone, Bluetooth chip and other sensors that track what you eat, how much and how quickly you eat.
Stay healthy in 2015 – with Israeli technology.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.[email protected]