An experimental back brace developed by Hadasit, the technology transfer company of Hadassah University Medical Centers, has shown positive results in treating scoliosis in a clinical trial. Scoliosis, a complex 3-D deformation of the trunk, spine and rib cage, can cause pain, difficulty in movement and esthetic problems. The brace, said Dr. Naum Simanovsky of the pediatric orthopedic unit at Hadassah (who invented the device) is "the only dynamic treatment for scoliosis in development today." Three groups of patients aged 12 to 15 were enrolled in the trial, which began in December 2005. Five had mild curves (20-25 degrees); 10 patients had moderate curves (25-39 degrees); and five had severe (more than 39 degrees) curves. The last group opted not to have surgery. Of the 20 patients in the study, 14 experienced curve improvement or remained stable, meaning there was no further deterioration in the curvature of their spines. One mild patient, one moderate patient and two severe patients progressed to a more acute condition. Two severe patients opted out of the study. "All of the currently used conservative non-invasive treatments are static. The Derotation Brace uses a dynamic derotation mechanism to create neutral rotational forces that reverse the rotation of the spine and help correct the scoliosis," said Simanovsky. The brace consists of two parts that allow for progressive derotation and the improvement of spinal balance in a three-dimensional direction. An estimated six million Americans live with scoliosis, which can be caused by congenital, developmental or degenerative problems. However, most cases of this condition, which actually have no known cause, are classified as idiopathic scoliosis or adolescent scoliosis. This type afflicts around one percent of the population worldwide and accounts for between 80-90% of all scoliosis instances. Idiopathic scoliosis is known to cause both social and physical effects including an inability to breathe normally. Hadasit (www.hadasit.co.il) was established as a subsidiary of Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) to promote and commercialize its intellectual property in the field of medicine. Hadasit guides technologies from innovation to commercial application. BLOOD CLOTS NOT SO RISKY FOR TRAVELERS Good news for air travelers: The World Health Organization says the risk of vein thromboembolism (VTE) during flights is relatively low, and even lower if the flight is less than four hours. The WHO recently released results from Phase 1 research into global hazards of travel. They found the risk of developing VTE doubles after travel lasting four hours or more, but even with this increased risk, the absolute risk of developing VTE, if seated and immobile for more than four hours, remains at about 1 in 6,000. The two most common manifestations of VTE are deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. In DVT, a blood clot (thrombus) develops in a deep vein, usually in the lower leg. Symptoms of DVT include pain, tenderness and swelling of the affected part, but it can be detected and treated. Thromboembolism occurs when a blood clot (from a DVT) in a leg vein breaks off and travels through the body to the lung, where it becomes lodged and blocks blood flow, becoming a pulmonary embolism. Symptoms include chest pain and breathing difficulties. If not treated, it can be fatal. The WHO study showed that plane, train, bus or car passengers are at a higher risk of VTE when they remain seated and immobile on journeys of more than four hours. This is due to a stagnation of blood in the veins caused by prolonged immobility, which can promote blood-clot formation in veins. The report shows that a number of other factors increase the risk of VTE during travel, including obesity, being very tall or very short, use of oral contraceptives and inherited blood disorders. "The study does indicate an increased risk of venous thromboembolism during travel where the passenger is seated and immobile for over four hours. However, it is important to remember that the risk of developing VTE when travelling remains relatively low," said Dr. Catherine Le GalÃ¨s-Camus, WHO assistant director-general for non-communicable disease and mental health. Experts say blood circulation can be promoted by exercising the calf muscles with up-and-down movements of the feet at the ankles. Moving feet in this manner encourages blood flow in the calf muscles, thus reducing blood stagnation. People should also avoid wearing tight clothing during travel, as such garments may promote blood stagnation. CANDY CIGARETTES ARE NOT SWEET Children who suck on candy "cigarettes" may become smokers, according to a new studying published in Preventive Medicine. The study, led by Dr. Jonathan Klein of the University of Rochester, showed that in a sample of 25,887 American adults, 22 percent of smokers said they had regularly eaten candy cigarettes as children, compared with 14% of nonsmokers. Twelve percent of smokers said they had never tried the candy, compared with 22% of non-smokers. Candy cigarettes are made of candy or gum, shaped into cylindrical sticks and sold in rectangular boxes roughly the size of cigarette packs. In the US, candy cigarettes are typically displayed next to the bubble gum and trading cards commonly sold in supermarkets and convenience stores, Klein told UPI. Meanwhile, it is possible to turn Israel into a smoke-free country, according to Prof. Manuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the National Council for Economics, who recently spoke to an international conference at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. The Israel Defense Forces, through which most young people pass, can carry out this revolution. Efforts must be invested in fighting dangerous social habits, he said. Eradicating smoking doesn't have to take a lot of money, but it needs education, determination and organization, said Trachtenberg, whose council is an economic adviser to the prime minister.