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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

Hebrew U’s Dr. Yosef Buganim Honored for Stem Cell Research Breakthroughs

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Dr. Yosef Buganim, a research scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the prestigious journals Science and Science Translational Medicine, and the Boyalife industrial research consortium, for his work in stem cells and regenerative medicine (see Dr. Buganim’s essay Back to basics).

Dr. Buganim is a young researcher who recently joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC). Part of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, IMRIC is one of the most innovative and multidisciplinary biomedical research organizations in the world.

Awarded for the first time this year, the Boyalife Science & Science Translational Medicine Award in Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine honors researchers for outstanding contributions in stem cell research and regenerative medicine around the globe.

AAAS, Science, and Science Translational Medicine joined efforts with Boyalife, an industrial-research consortium formed in Wuxi, China, in 2009, to sponsor the award. Composed of prominent researchers, the judging panel was co-chaired by a Science and a Science Translational Medicine editor.

At his Hebrew University laboratory, Buganim uses somatic cell conversion models to identify and investigate the elements that facilitate safe and complete nuclear reprogramming.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, he used single-cell technologies and bioinformatic approaches to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the reprogramming of somatic cells to iPSCs.

Regenerative medicine is a developing field aimed at regenerating, replacing or engineering human cells, tissues or organs, to establish or restore normal function.

Embryonic stem cells have enormous potential in this area because they can differentiate into all cell types in the human body. However, two significant obstacles prevent their immediate use in medicine: ethical issues related to terminating human embryos, and rejection of foreign cells by a patient’s immune system.

In 2006, Japanese researchers discovered that it is possible to reprogram adult cells and return them to their embryonic stage, creating functional embryonic stem-like cells. These cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and constitute a solution to these two obstacles.

In addition, these cells provide a good basis for modeling diseases and finding medical solutions, because they can be reproduced from different patients and different diseases.

Despite these cells’ enormous potential, their quality is still not sufficient to be used in clinical practice, and there is a need to find the best protocol that will enable production of high-quality iPSCs that will not endanger patients.

Dr. Buganim’s laboratory has made two major breakthroughs in this area, representing a major step forward in the field of regenerative medicine and transplantation.

Project A: To improve the quality of embryonic stem cells, Dr. Buganim and colleagues conducted bioinformatics analyses which pointed to four new key genes capable of creating iPSCs from skin cells, of superior quality to stem cells in current use. These cells produced in his laboratory (in this case mouse cells) are able to clone a whole mouse at a much higher percentage (80%) than other iPSCs (30%). This test is the most important one determine the quality of the cells.

Project B: Many women suffer recurrent miscarriages and abnormal development of the placenta, which causes fetal growth restriction and in some cases produces children with mental retardation. Dr. Buganim’s lab found the key genes of the placenta stem cells and by expressing them in surplus in skin cells, created placental iPSCs. These cells looked and behaved like natural placental stem cells.

Various tests showed that these cells have cell-generating capability in a Petri dish and inside a placenta that develops following a transplant. These cells have potential for use in regenerative medicine in cases of problematic placental functioning.


Two Jewish Boys Help Blind Arab Man #OnlyInIsrael [video]

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Yesterday, two 15-year-old Jewish, kipa-wearing, boys were walking in Jerusalem when they heard a blind Arab man say he didn’t have enough money to buy his medicine.

The two took the blind man and sat him down on a bench with them and they began to play their guitars.

When they collected the 70 shekels the Arab man needed, one of the Jewish boys went to the pharmacy and bought the medicine for the man.

Afterwards, the man asked the boys if they could continue to play some more songs for him, which they did.

Source: The Two Shollies – Shtuyot

Video of the Day

New Training Program Prepares Israeli Doctors to Prescribe Medical Cannabis

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

It will probably be a long time before Israelis see medical cannabis on the shelves of their pharmacies — if ever — but many of their doctors are likely to be trained and certified in prescribing the drug as a new medication within the next several weeks.

Two main objectives set by Health Minister Yaacov Litzman towards the goal of making the product more available to Israeli patients were reached on Thursday.

The sale of medical cannabis to pharmacies is going to become easier, and certification and permits for doctors to prescribe the product for their patients will also be eased.

In fact, the accreditation of doctors for prescribing the plant as a treatment is only weeks away, according to a report posted Thursday by Galei Tzahal Army Radio.

The Israel Medical Association is providing a two-day training program in cooperation with the Health Ministry to prepare doctors across a range of specialties for accreditation in the use of the drug as a treatment.

“Physicians who want to learn how to treat with cannabis will learn when to prescribe it and when not to,” Dr. Leonid Eidelman told the radio station.

The training will be led by teams from the Israel Medical Association and the medical cannabis unit at the Ministry of Health, headed by Dr. Michael Dor.

Hana Levi Julian

Ben Gurion U. Students’ Cancer Therapy Wins Boston Competition

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

The student team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has won the Best Health and Medicine Project category in the prestigious 12th annual iGEM 2015 Giant Jamboree competition with their cutting-edge biological cancer therapy called “Boomerang.”

IGEM is considered one of the most important ventures in the global sphere of science. Nearly 4,600 students competed in this year’s event in Boston.

The BGU project Boomerang is based on advanced methods of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. It has many applications that rely on the special characteristics of cancer cells to identify and alter cells as well as treat the disease at the molecular level.

The name “Boomerang” mirrors the actions in which the synthetic system uses cancer cells’ own genetic alterations against them.

As a cancer therapy, Boomerang works as a modular system. It can cause disruption of genes essential for cancer survival or activate suicide genes so that the cancer or tumor kills itself. Boomerang can also produce color proteins for cancer cell detection so that the edges of a tumor are visible to ensure complete surgical removal.

In addition to winning the grand prize in the Best Health and Medicine Project in the “Overgraduate” category (graduate level), the BGU team was a first runner-up in the overall competition, the first Israeli team to reach this level in iGEM.

The BGU team also won the Best New Basic Part Award for developing and submitting the best new functional DNA sequence to this year’s competition.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Israeli Researchers Develop Method to Profile Potential ‘School Shooters’

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Ben-Gurion University (BGU) researchers have developed a personality profiling technique that automates the identification of potential school shooters by analyzing personality traits that appear in their writings.

“School shooters present a challenge to both forensic psychiatry and law enforcement agencies,” explains Prof. Yair Neuman, a member of the BGU Homeland Security Institute.

He said in an article published in Frontiers in Forensic Psychiatry:

There is currently no clear consensus or clinical diagnosis that can be used for screening shooters. Finding a single shooter in a large population, as well as a lack of clinical diagnosis before an occurrence adds to the complexity.

The study details the text-based computational personality-profiling tool, which uses “vector semantics.” This involves constructing a number of vectors representing personality dimensions and disorders, which are analyzed automatically by computer to measure the similarity with texts written by the human subject.

“For example, an investigator may want to measure the extent in which narcissism is manifested in a text,” Neuman explains. “First, we define a vector of words representing this personality such as ‘arrogant,’ ‘manipulative,’ ‘egocentric,’ and ‘insensitive.’ The computer measures the distance between the vector of words comprising our target text and those representing narcissism in a high-dimensional semantic space. The closer the vectors appear, the higher the writer’s narcissistic ranking.”

In this study, BGU researchers selected writings by six shooters involved in a number of high-profile scenarios worldwide, including the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007. Then they analyzed and compared these with writings by 6,000 bloggers and tasked the computer to identify the shooters.

Although pinpointing a single person wasn’t the goal, the tool was able to significantly reduce the pool of suspects to only three percent of the original sample, which included the writings of all six shooters. This shows that using intelligent technology can significantly reduce the effort needed to identify shooters or even solo terrorists.

The methodology is automatic, which also enables screening a massive number of texts in a short time, which could aid in detection.

“While ethical considerations are inevitable, we can definitely imagine a situation in which parents give the school permission to scan their teenagers’ social media pages under certain limitations. In this context, using our automatic screening procedure, a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist who is trained may automatically get red flag warnings for students whose texts express a high level of potential danger,” explains Neuman.

He added:

The proposed methodology does not pretend to solve the enormous difficulties in profiling and identifying school shooters, but modestly adds another tool to the tool kit of forensic psychiatry and law enforcement agencies.
We believe our methodology can gain more validity with the ranking/prioritization process of suspects, similar to the automatic identification of sexual predators created to prioritize an investigation.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Research: Holocaust Trauma is Genetically Transmitted

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

A new medical study has just proved the trauma of the Holocaust is transmitted genetically through the generations.

This is a known fact to mental health experts and anyone else who works in the field. It is an unstated reality to anyone who is a descendant of a Holocaust survivor. In fact, anyone who has been touched in any way by the trauma of the Holocaust is forever traumatized by that nightmare in a real, visceral manner. Ask them. Or just look at their eyes.

But now medical research has caught up with this reality. Scientists at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center have tracked down the genetic changes in which the trauma is forever inscribed.

The findings will have deep implications for the Jewish world which cannot be addressed in this article.

The study examined “epigenetic inheritance” – the theory that says environmental influences such as smoking, stress and weight loss can create genetic changes in one’s children and grandchildren.

The Mount Sinai study focused on a gene associated with the regulation of stress hormones which is known to be affected by trauma.

The study, which included 32 test subjects and 22 of their adult offspring, focused on Jewish men and women who survived the Nazi concentration camps, witnessed or experienced tortured, or were forced to hide from the Nazis during World War II. The control subjects were Jewish families who did not live in Europe during the rule of the Nazis.

Scientists found epigenetic markers on the same part of the gene in both the survivors and their children. That correlation was not found among Jewish families who did not live in Europe during World War II.

The researchers also found that children of Holocaust survivors were three times more likely to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if they were exposed to a traumatic event, than demographically similar Jews whose parents did not experience the Holocaust.

The findings were published in the most recent edition of the journal Biological Psychiatry. Dr. Rachel Yehuda, who led the study, said, “The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents.”

Children of Holocaust survivors were found to have the same neuroendocrine and hormonal abnormalities as Holocaust survivors and other people suffering from PTSD. The researchers thus concluded that the risk for conditions such as PTSD was associated with having a parent who had PTSD.

The transmission of trauma from one generation to the next is a known phenomenon to social workers and other therapists in the field of psychotherapy. Dr. Yehuda, however, was able to quantify it in physical, neurochemical terms.

What sparked the research, however, was the desire to document that which she and others were seeing over and over at a clinic for survivors at Mount Sinai.

“Offspring were reporting that they had been affected by the Holocaust in many different kinds of ways, but in a very coherent and cohesive pattern,” she said.

“They talked about feeling traumatized by witnessing the symptoms of their parents. And they talked about being traumatized by some of the expectations that the Holocaust had placed on them, such as that they are the reason their parents survived and therefore there was a whole set of things that they would now have to accomplish so that all the people that died… they could give their lives meaning.”

Hana Levi Julian

Administrative Detention Temporarily Cancelled for Hunger-Striking PIJ Terrorist

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The High Court of Justice temporarily cancelled the state’s order of administrative detention late Wednesday night following a deterioration in the medical condition of Mohammed Alla’an.

It is unclear, however, how long that situation will last, and under what conditions it might be reinstated, if at all.

Mohammed Alla’an was resedated Wednesday eveneing upon the recommendation of physicians at Barzilai Medical Center following a worsening in his medical condition.

“Alla’an is in stable condition and is receiving the treatment that is necessary to address the medical problems that became apparent during this evening,” a hospital spokesperson said in a statement.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist hunger striker who became unconscious last week after starving himself for more than 60 days, may have caused himself permanent brain damage.

Doctors at Barzilai Medical Center said in a statement Wednesday that Alla’an has been diagnosed via an MRI imaging study with brain damage due to nutrient deficiency.

It is not yet clear whether the damage is reversible, however. Alla’an remains hospitalized in serious condition at present.

Alla’an awakened from his “coma” on Tuesday after receiving IV fluids and “essential medications,” and spending several days on a respirator, which has since been withdrawn. He is conscious and breathing independently.

Attorneys for the State of Israel told the High Court of Justice the government would release the detainee if his brain damage is irreversible. The offer is contingent upon his proven inability to return to the activity for which he was held on administrative detention.

The government offered to release Alla’an last week in exchange for his agreement to remain abroad for a period of four years, but he rejected the offer just before he became unconscious.

The hospital has told media that Alla’an is showing difficulty “communicating with his surroundings.”

Although he allegedly received an offer from the court – via his attorneys – to release him on November 3, when the administrative order expires, Alla’an had “not yet responded,” according to Sawsan Zaher of the Adalah legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/palestinian-islamic-jihad-detainee-may-have-brain-damage/2015/08/19/

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