A new and faster method for treating orthopedic injuries and conditions such as osteoporosis and disc disorders has been developed by a doctoral student at the Hebrew University's faculty of dental medicine. For his work, Nadav Kimelman, under the supervision of Prof. Dan Gazit, received a Kaye Innovation Award during an HU's board of governors meeting. The method increases oxygen availability in scaffolds to accelerate bone formation. The lack of such oxygen supply seriously impairs successful tissue engineering, which is the development of biological replacements for damaged tissues or organs. Such replacements could solve donor organ shortage and serve as efficient substitutes for synthetic implants. For successful engineering of an organ or tissue, the appropriate cells, biological cues and a three-dimensional scaffold are combined. This is also the case for bone tissue engineering. One of the major hurdles in successful tissue engineering, however, is the lack of oxygen supply to the newly forming tissue. Kimelman decided to overcome this hurdle by using synthetic oxygen carriers in scaffolds. To validate their approach, they combined adult stem cells programmed to generate bone tissue with injectible scaffolds (hydrogels) containing synthetic oxygen carriers. They then tested the survival of the cells and the amount of bone generated. The result was significantly elevated bone formation and cell survival in the hydrogels compared to the control groups. They even found that the addition of oxygen carriers led to more rapid bone formation. Kimelman's results show that synthetic oxygen carrier supplementation enhances and accelerates engineered bone formation. He believes that the results could pave the way for novel therapeutic strategies not only in orthopedics, but also in applications such as cardiology and neurosurgery. CHICKEN POX SHOTS The Health Ministry will soon offer chicken pox (varicella) vaccine to children born after January 1, 2007. Until now, parents who wanted to vaccinate their children had to pay a few hundred shekels. Although the decision to add it to the vaccination basket was made weeks ago, the batches have still not arrived because of problems with importation. Thus the ministry cannot yet say exactly when parents can bring their children - 18 months and younger - to family health (tipat halav) centers for their shots. Chicken pox is highly infectious and sometimes dangerous. A minority of adults exposed to the actual virus contract shingles, a painful nerve condition. Those who were vaccinated are less likely to get shingles, experts say.