Now you see us and now you don't

Often when I discover a news story about another Israeli innovation, the fact that the company has developed the product in the tiny Jewish State is not at all obvious. Buried down in the “Company info” web page you suddenly notice that the Management Team all have Israeli names and studied at most of the top Israeli Universities. Here are some recent success stories about the quiet work that Israelis are doing and I hope that it may help you see Israel in a different light.
Israeli biotechs often work quietly for years before releasing a treatment for tackling silent killers and de-habilitating diseases. Israel’s Can-Fite BioPharma has just reported success in the Phase I/II clinical trial of its CF102 drug for the treatment of liver cancer. It was also successful in Phase I/II trials for treating Hepatitis C. In comparison, Teva’s Copaxone multiple sclerosis treatment has been around for some time, but only now has an independent 12-month MRI study revealed that Copaxone causes significant regeneration of brain tissue in sufferers and proves the drug’s ability to repair the brain lesions responsible for MS. 
Meanwhile, you may not have seen that Israel’s Pocared Diagnostics Ltd has been given the green light when it obtained EU CE Mark certification to market its automated urine test product, which uses light refraction to detect bacteria in samples in real time. And if you''ve been listening carefully, you will have heard that, in initial trials, Tirat Carmel-based Insightec’s focused ultrasound treatment ExAblate 4000 significantly improved patients suffering from essential tremor with no side effects. The MRI-guided system offers the potential to treat a variety of brain disorders without opening the skull.  


You will also have to keep your ears open for the new Ambu-Cyclists of the non-profit organisation Hatzalah (Hebrew for “Rescue”). Their goal is to provide a response within two to four minutes from the onset of an incident. So volunteers use scooters to speed through busy Israeli streets to get to emergency scenes before ambulances can. 
As usual, we don’t hear or see anything in the International media about the hundreds of Gazans that regularly receive hospital treatment in Israel. In August 2011 alone, 1522 permits were granted for medical treatment to residents of Gaza (762 patients and 760 for accompanying individuals). And in another unheralded example of co-operation, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have joined forces to rehabilitate the Kishon River by establishing a first-of-its-kind eco-park. 
You’d be hard-pressed to find mention of the work of the IDF Military Intensive Care Unit that operates in Judea and Samaria. Its job is to take care of everyone - civilians or soldiers, Israelis or Palestinians Arabs; giving whatever care is needed, from birthing to CPR and saving lives on an everyday basis. And as we start 2012, how many know about the IDF’s 26 years of sending emergency missions to disaster areas around the world. They have saved hundreds from certain death and given medical treatment to thousands.
So please give a fanfare to all the Israelis who have recently been busy improving the lives of others. One such is Amir Asor who has just won the title of “Entrepreneur of the Year” from Britain''s non-profit organization Youth Business International. Using Lego models, he teaches children advanced engineering, physics and mathematical skills through guided play. 


And let’s hear it for orthodox Jewish rap star Shyne and the other Israeli musicians who have been inspiring the world’s underprivileged youth through music. Together with the King David Foundation and Israel’s Oleh records, their first initiative is to build a music education and resource centre for children in Belize City.


And finally, an Israeli company has solved the problem of how to examine materials microscopically in their natural environment. B-nano is developing the airSEM, a revolutionary scanning electron microscope enabling 10-nanometer resolution in open air without a vacuum. As the company puts it – “It’s like nothing you’ve been able to see before”.
Israel – it’s just totally “Out of sight!”
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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