Israel is a voyage of discovery

Israeli scientists and innovators announce more new exciting breakthroughs in a single week, than in any previous decade. Let me take you on this week’s tour of the organisations and individuals that are changing all our lives for the better.
The journey in search for a cure for cancer is a global quest and Israelis are firmly at the front of the race. Firstly, Israel’s IceCure Ltd.has announced the first use of IceSense3, its cryoablation procedure for the removal of breast cancer tumours. Having previously been used to remove benign tumours, this is the world’s first extreme cold system to remove cancerous tumours. Secondly, a study has shown that the drug Treanda, from Israel’s Teva, worked better than standard therapy to slow the growth of immune system tumours and had fewer side effects. Finally, researchers at Hadassah University Hospital have identified that protein receptor blocker BKT140 kills lung cancer cells and reduces tumour growth by about 50 percent. BKT140 was developed by Biokine Therapeutics of Rehovot, originally to increase bone marrow cell production.
Israeli scientists are always looking for pathways for improving the mobility of disabled people. This article from Aish describes Israel’s greatest medical breakthroughs for the handicapped – Rewalk’s exoskeleton, BrainGate’s robotic arm, artificial fingers and even sound that gives sight to the blind. And the latest Israeli government legislation requires tour companies and car rental firms to provide services and facilities for handicapped people. Tour companies must have accessible buses and rental firms must provide vehicles that can transport disabled passengers. Meanwhile, at the ILSI-Biomed 2012 Conference in Tel Aviv the focus was on medical devices that are tailored to the individual patient.


Israeli scientists constantly make discoveries in the field of genetics. Professor Dani Zamir of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University was a key member of an International team of scientists that has decoded the 35,000 genes that comprise the genome of the tomato. Benefits will include improving the nutrition, taste and yield of this important plant. Israel has already genetically engineered the desert to make it bloom. Now, 60 per cent of all Israel’s agricultural exports are grown in the Arava – originally the totally arid region from Eilat to the Dead Sea. 600 farms produce 150,000 tons of peppers per year, plus tomatoes, dates, melons, mangos, and even fish. Israel’s expertise in water technology certainly has helped achieve this, such as Kibbutz Amiad’s filtration and treatment systems that bring purified water to industries, households and farms in 70 countries.
Flowing from clean water, to cleaner energy, more than 100 alternative energies start-up companies are active in Israel today, in addition to 100 university-based research groups. So isn’t it ironic that yet another giant oil & gas discovery has been made off the Israeli coast 170 km west of Haifa. The Pelagic licenses have an estimated 6.7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas. And you could say that Haifa’s Dor Chemicals has a foot in both camps. It is manufacturing a benzene/methanol mixture M15 to be used in an upcoming six-month pilot program. They anticipate discovering that the methanol mixture will provide a more environmentally friendly, less expensive fuel with no changes to cars or the pumps.
Many young entrepreneurs have discovered that the Jewish State is the ideal place to make their mark. Among them, are four Israeli women who were included in the Girls in Tech list of the 100 most influential women in high tech in Europe. A further 150 budding entrepreneurs participated in the first “Jerusalem Startup Weekend” – a competition to select hi-tech business ideas. Among the 13 final selections were several from the Arab and ultra-orthodox religious communities, plus from the Palestinian Authority.


Future groundbreaking discoveries are assured, as Israel retained its position as the top country for R&D investment, according to the 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook of the International Institute of Management Development. Cambridge Professor Sir Richard Friend is a true friend of Israel. Here, he talks about the discoveries he and his colleagues have made, just by their association with graduates from Israel’s Technion.
But perhaps this latest statistic may give a clue as to the real background to the discoveries that Israelis are making. It is not for nothing that we are called “the People of the Book”. A new book is published every 80 minutes by in the Jewish State, amounting to about 20 titles per day, according to data released by the National Library ahead of Israel Book Week. 6,302 books were published last year.
Finally, please don’t accept it when people slander the Jewish State. Change the conversation and direct them to the positive news articles. Then perhaps they will begin to discover Israel for themselves.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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