Health Scan: Israeli cancer research 'spectacular'

Efforts to speed the translation of basic research to the bedside expected to bring successful treatment of the 200 types of tumors closer.

health scan 88 (photo credit: )
health scan 88
(photo credit: )
Some of the world's leading cancer researchers say cancer research here is "spectacular," and that efforts to speed the translation of basic research to the bedside will bring successful treatment of the 200 types of tumors closer. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) - founded in 1907 by 11 physicians and scientists interested in the then-rarely encountered disorder - now has 30,000 members around the world. A total of 380 researchers (half foreign and the rest Israeli) attended a four-day conference in Jerusalem. The AACR's mission is to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication, the rapid dissemination of new findings, expanding the understanding of cancer etiology, diagnosis and treatment. It also helps produce a critical mass of young cancer researchers for the future workforce. The association ( publishes six peer-reviewed journals related to oncology, and holds conferences such as that held at the capital's Inbal Hotel with help from the Israel Cancer Association. Chief executive officer Margaret Foti says "great science was presented at the meeting, and interactions and collaborations resulted. We plan to meet here again in the fall of 2011." Two organizers of the Jerusalem event were Prof. Gideon Rehavi from Sheba Medical Center and the Weizmann Institute's Prof. Moshe Oren, an Israel Prize laureate. She noted that the AACR - which raises funds from US government grants, foundations, advocacy groups, industry and membership fees - does not accept money from the tobacco industry and always checks beforehand if the hotels where it holds meetings have a financial interest in tobacco. The Jerusalem meeting included an Arab scientist from Amman, Muslims from Turkey, Palestinians and Arabs who work in the US. "There was a very good atmosphere; we proved that medicine is totally apolitical," Foti said. SURGICAL 'MIRACLE' AT HAND A 23-year-old woman who had three fingers on one hand crushed and burnt over a month ago will be able to use them again after they were temporarily "implanted" in the fat layer of her abdomen at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. The attractive young woman, who lives in Kiryat Malachi, accidentally pressed a pedal with her foot at her workplace, which puts fashion logos on hangers. As she pressed the pedal, her right hand was lying on the spot where the hangers are imprinted. Three of her fingers were severely "branded" by the pressure and heat. She was rushed to Kaplan, where specialists from the hand surgery department headed by Dr. Avraham Hess treated her. One of them, Dr. Ali Yanai - who had treated crush and burn injuries of soldiers during the Yom Kippur War - said the damage to the bones of her fingers was worse than any he had seen. After consulting with other Kaplan specialists, Yanai decided to perform a 12-hour operation in which the chances for restoring functionality and esthetics of the fingers was low. The fingers were partially implanted in the abdominal fat under her skin so the fat would fill them out. "When we took them out," Yanai said with emotion, "we were very impressed by the results. The skin on the fingers was well established; there was a good supply of blood from the abdomen, and the thickness of the fat in the fingers was very satisfactory." "To have one's fingers attached to the abdomen for a month is not at all easy," Yanai said, "but she well understood that this was the real chance to save her hand and improve her ability to move her fingers." She was discharged and sent home a month after the accident, but will have to return for physiotherapy. "I am indebted to Dr. Hess, Dr. Yanai, the wonderful nurses and the rest of the medical staff," she said. "Only thanks to their attitude and kindness was I able to leave the hospital in a much better condition than when I arrived." LIFESAVING IN A HEADLIGHT'S GLARE Diagnosing the cause of choking in a baby girl in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim quarter recently by illuminating her throat with car headlights, two medics from Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah saved her life. Aaron Goetz and Yosef Zelikovitch were traveling in Goetz's private car when a message came through on their beeper of a 17-month-old girl choking. As the address was only a few buildings away, the haredi medics raced to the site and and saw a large group of worried bystanders. The hassidic family members were outside holding a limp baby and screaming for help. The child was beginning to turn blue due to oxygen deprivation. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the object with backslaps, Goetz brought the baby closer to his car and examined her in the bright glare of his headlights. He noticed a slight reflection from a shiny object in the back of the throat. With his gloved hand, he was able to hook a small toy magnet. The baby emitted a healthy cry. The hassidim slapped the lifesavers' backs warmly, and the medics returned to the car feeling grateful for having the opportunity to be part of a "miraculous rebirth" of a child.