Two more Jews, both from the United States, and a German non-Jew won the Nobel Prize in medicine in Monday, while two Israel contenders lost out.
The newest Jewish Nobel Prize winners are James Rothman of Yale University and Randy Schekman of the University of California. The Israeli hopefuls were Hebrew University professors Howard Cedar and Aharon Razin.
More than 20 percent of the 800 Nobel Prize winners so far have been Jewish although Jews represent only 0.2 of the world’s population.
The third winner Monday was Dr. Thomas Sudhof of Stanford University. All three scientists shared the $1.2 million for their research on how tiny bubbles are carriers inside cells, making sure that the right elements arrive at the right place and at the right time.
This year’s Nobel Prizes in other fields are to be announced within the next two weeks.
Israeli officials have joined international efforts to save an 8-year-old boy who was mauled by a wild hyena in Ethiopia.
Bedouin-Israeli diplomat Ismail Khaldi and Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Belaynesh Zevadia, are spearheading a campaign for contributions for bringing Abdul Razek to the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya.
Five months ago, the hyena attacked Abdul’s village, killing five and injuring 15. Abdul suffered severe head, scalp and eye injuries, and lost one of his ears. The estimated cost of the operation is $40,000.
With most of the money raised, it is expected the boy could come to Israel by the end of the week.
Dr. Rick Hodes of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is on a mission in Ethiopia and interceded with the hospital on behalf of the child.
Common interactive video games may be an affordable and effective alternative to traditional therapy for stroke victims, says Tel Aviv University’s Medical School Dr. Debbie Rand.
patients undergo hours of rehabilitation after a stroke to restore movement, speech, and overall functionality, but many still return home without the ability to perform daily tasks, such as dressing, cooking or driving.
Dr. Rand’s recent study, in collaboration with a team from Sheba Medical Center, found that people recovering from stroke who use video games as a therapeutic method are more physically active during rehabilitation sessions, making more movements overall than those who experience traditional motor therapy.
Interactive game consoles require players to move continuously to interact with the virtual games, Dr. Rand explains. In her study, not only did the players perform double the number of arm movements during each session compared to patients in traditional therapy, but all of their movements also were purposeful or “goal-directed” and not just repetitive exercises.
When individuals plan their movements and move deliberately in order to accomplish a specific goal, it is likely to have a positive impact on brain plasticity — changes in the brain that are crucial for recovery from brain damage caused by stroke, Dr. Rand notes.
Players’ movements require precision and balance, and there is a cognitive benefit in that video games require strategy and planning. The individuals are motivated and enjoy the activity, making it more likely that they will continue the treatment regime long-term, she believes.
She tested the effectiveness of interactive video games compared to traditional therapy comparing individuals who had experienced a stroke one to seven years before the study began. They were randomly assigned to one of two groups of 20 participants each — a traditional therapy group, who completed traditional rehabilitation exercises, and a video games group which played video games using Xbox Kinect, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles. Each group received two sessions a week with occupational therapists for a period of three months.
Although both groups showed improvement in functions such as grip strength of their weaker and stronger hands and gait speed, participants in the video games group continued to improve their grip strength for three months following the intervention, while the traditional group did not.
Beyond the physical advantages, Dr. Rand believes that video games could be an excellent alternative to traditional therapy simply because they’re more fun. In the video game group, 92 percent of participants reported enjoying the experience “extremely” or “very much,” opposed to 72 percent of the traditional group.
If patients are enjoying the therapy experience, it’s more likely that they will adhere to the therapy regime long-term, noting that game consoles are now widely available and fairly inexpensive. Participants who were in the video game playing group reported: “It was lots of fun,” “it stimulated all of my senses,” and “I finished the sessions wet from sweat, which proves that I really worked hard.”
The group environment also contributed to the success of the therapy, Dr. Rand says. Often, individuals with stroke are isolated and don’t have a very active social life. This program allowed them to connect with people like themselves, and encourage and support one another’s efforts.
In future studies, she intends to investigate whether these interactive video games will be as effective if they are used independently by patients at home to keep up activity levels — a crucial element of rehabilitation following a stroke.
With a few weeks until summer, numerous new diets are popping up to offer a quick fix. But there’s a reason most diets fail – it’s just too easy to fall back into old habits. Even if you want to lose weight because of a health scare or for an upcoming family celebration, that inspiration often fades as your grandiose dieting plans lose steam. You can only rely on your own motivation for so long. Even if you do lose weight, maintaining that success is unlikely. Today’s nutritionists and psychologists teach us that we need to change our habits, not just our diet, but this strategy is actually rooted in traditional Jewish wisdom.
Maimonides, the 12th century Jewish sage and medical doctor, wrote extensively on nutrition and wellness, and his writings are now being incorporated into contemporary medical studies on healthy living habits. After years of studying his writings, I see that Maimonides believed that long-term weight loss success is dependent on more than just motivation; working your mind along with your body is essential. Weight loss and optimum health are more than simply issues of food and diet; changing our habits – our learned behaviors – is possible and effective when they are done at the right pace.
Motivation simply relies on inspiration and will power. Even if you are highly motivated, you still have to contend with old, stubborn habits. In order to achieve long-term success, changing those habits is essential. Habitual change causes a subconscious inner change. The outer action may be exactly the same every time you repeat it, but the subconscious accumulation of every minor experience and feeling associated with that act gains momentum each time it is repeated. Eventually, your new habits will replace your negative habits.
Maimonides distinguishes between ‘habit’ and ‘motivation’. He writes:
“Positive behavior characteristics are not acquired by doing great (positive) acts but rather by repeating positive acts. For example, giving $1,000 to one charity will not accustom a person to being generous, whereas giving $1 to 1000 different charities rehearses the trait of generosity in that individual. That repeated action of giving regulates that person to continue giving. By repeating an act many times, an established behavior or emotional pattern is formed. In contrast, one great act does do some level of good, but the motivation may disappear shortly thereafter.” (See Commentary to Avos 3:18)
Specifically with regards to health and wellness, Maimonides writes, “One’s usual custom and habit is a fundamental principle in the maintenance of health and the cure of illnesses. One should not change ones habits all at once.” (Regimen of Health 4, 15)
Here, Maimonides teaches us about human nature: to change a bad habit, the key is to take simple steps.
The success that many people had losing weight based on my book, “The Life Transforming Diet” was the result of adhering to the wisdom of Maimonides and his principles of behavior modification. As I continued my research, honing in more specifically on habits, I designed a five-week plan that comes just in time to prepare for the summer.
This plan for establishing habits for healthy living will set you in motion, as Maimonides discusses, to change those old, stubborn eating habits:
Habit 1 – Week 1: Swap out one meal each day with a Light Meal that’s 250 calories or less, like fruit, salad, eggs and toast or cereal with milk.
Habit 2 – Week 2: Make one meal each day a Concentrated Food or “CF Meal” of protein + veggies only. A glass of red wine is also allowed!
Habit 3 – Week 3: Make one meal each day a “V-Plus” Meal – the V is for veggies! Eat as you normally would (including healthy grains), but for seconds, it’s veggies only.
Habit 4 – Week 4: Add in Exercise with just 10 minutes of cardio, 3 days/week to start
Habit 5 – Week 5: Between meals, start Snack Substitution: try water, veggies, low-fat dairy, or fruit instead.
It’s crucial not to jump stages in this program. The goal is to introduce one positive habit each week. In the first week, you will make only one change. In the second week, you will continue with your first change, and then add one more – and so on. It is important to make only the one change every week, and keep the rest of your routine exactly the same. These are the steps to changing your habits forever. You can read more about the 5 habits and 5-week program, including diet diaries, motivation, sample meal plans and daily schedules at www.5skinnyhabits.com.
The kidney of a 3-year-old Israeli boy was successfully transplanted to a 10-year-old Palestinian Authority boy.
The parents of Noam Naor decided to donate his kidneys after their son was declared brain dead nearly two weeks ago after falling from a window in his parents’ apartment.
One kidney went to an Israeli child, and the parents were asked by the National Transplant Center for their permission to give the second kidney to a boy from the Palestinian Authority, according to reports.
The operation on Sunday was successful, according to the Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah.
The Palestinian child had been undergoing dialysis for seven years at the Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem while waiting for a match.
“Noam’s parents are noble and an inspiration to us all,” Israeli Health Minister Yael German said. “Their donation is a source of pride and an example of humanity and kindness.”
Extremely low doses of marijuana’s psychoactive component can protect the brain before and after injury, according to Tel Aviv University Prof. Yosef Sarne.
Medical cannabis is often used by sufferers of chronic ailments, including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, to combat pain, insomnia, lack of appetite, and other symptoms but has not been identified as being able to prevent damage to the body.
Prof. Sarne of the Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases says that the drug has neuroprotective qualities and that extremely low doses of THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana – protects the brain from long-term cognitive damage in the wake of injury from lack of oxygen, seizures, or toxic drugs. Brain damage can have consequences ranging from mild cognitive deficits to severe neurological damage.
Previous studies focused on injecting high doses of THC within a very short time frame of approximately 30 minutes before or after injury. Prof. Sarne’s current research, published in the journals Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research, demonstrates that even extremely low doses of THC around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette and administered over a wide window of up to seven days before or one to three days after injury can jumpstart biochemical processes which protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.
This treatment, especially in light of the long time frame for administration and the low dosage, could be applicable to many cases of brain injury and be safer over time, Prof. Sarne says.
In the lab, the researchers injected mice with a single low dose of THC either before or after exposing them to brain trauma. A control group of mice sustained brain injury but did not receive the THC treatment. When the mice were examined three to seven weeks after initial injury, recipients of the THC treatment performed better in behavioral tests measuring learning and memory. Additionally, biochemical studies showed heightened amounts of neuroprotective chemicals in the treatment group compared to the control group.
The use of THC can prevent long-term cognitive damage that results from brain injury, the researchers conclude. One explanation for this effect is pre- and post-conditioning, whereby the drug causes minute damage to the brain to build resistance and trigger protective measures in the face of much more severe injury, explains Prof. Sarne. The low dosage of THC is crucial to initiating this process without causing too much initial damage.
According to Prof. Sarne, there are several practical benefits to this treatment plan.
Due to the long therapeutic time window, this treatment can be used not only to treat injury after the fact, but also to prevent injury that might occur in the future.
For example, cardiopulmonary heart-lung machines used in open heart surgery carry the risk of interrupting the blood supply to the brain, and the drug can be delivered beforehand as a preventive measure. In addition, the low dosage makes it safe for regular use in patients at constant risk of brain injury, such as epileptics or people at a high risk of heart attack.
Prof. Sarne is now working in collaboration with Prof. Edith Hochhauser of the Rabin Medical Center to test the ability of low doses of THC to prevent damage to the heart.
Preliminary results indicate that they will find the same protective phenomenon in relation to cardiac ischemia, in which the heart muscle receives insufficient blood flow.
Columnist David Suissa, the founder of OLAM magazine, has challenged theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to visit a three-year old Gaza paraplegic who is being cared for by Israel.
Hawking shocked the entire Israel political spectrum, from left to right, by his boycotting President Shimon Peres annual “Presidential Conference’ because of the “occupation.”
Hawking who is severely handicapped by a deteriorating disease and is confined to a wheelchair, is able to communicate through a device that is run by a computer chip designed and developed in Israel.
“Instead of getting upset at Hawking, I would rather we invite him to visit the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, part of the Tel HaShomer complex in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, Suissa wrote in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.
There, he would meet a three-year-old Arab toddler with no arms and no legs, named Mohammed al-Farra.
“Mohammed was born in Gaza with a rare genetic disease. His parents abandoned him, and the Palestinian government refused to pay for his care.
“As soon as he was born, he was rushed to Israel for emergency treatment. As reported in Huffpost, his genetic disorder left him with a weakened immune system and crippled his bowels, and an infection destroyed his hands and feet, requiring them to be amputated.
“Since then, he has spent his days and nights in an Israeli hospital undergoing treatment and learning how to use prosthetic limbs. His grandfather lives with him. Mohammed has been warmly embraced and cared for by his Israeli doctors, who have arranged for him and his grandfather to live in the sunny pediatric ward.”
Suissa asked, “I wonder what kind of boycott Hawking would have in mind after meeting little Mohammed, and after learning about the thousands of other Arab children from the West Bank and Gaza who are routinely cared for in Israeli hospitals?
“Well, I can think of at least one: It would be a boycott of every country in the world that neglects to care for disabled children like Steven Hawking and Mohammed al-Farra.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week will show President Barack Obama a series of technological products by Israel’s high-tech industries in the framework of a special exhibit that will be set up in President Obama’s honor.
The products that were chosen are in the fields of renewable energy, the war on traffic accidents, medicine, search and rescue, and robotics.
After touring the “Israeli Technology – For a Better World” exhibit at the Israel Museum, President Obama will meet with the next generation of Israeli scientists – young people from Haifa, who won an international robotics competition that was held in the United States last year.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will present to President Obama seven products that were chosen by a professional committee from among proposals presented by Israel’s universities.
National Information Directorate head Liran Dan said, “There are two principal messages that we would like to emphasize during the visit. First and foremost is the deep connection between Israel and the US. Alongside this, we would also like to present to the world the products of the future that originate in Israel and which will be used in many places around the world.”
The chosen products are, in the field of energy alternatives – Phinergy;
In the field of the struggle against traffic accidents – Mobileye;
In the field of medicine – BNA technology by ElMindA , MiniDesktop and Rewalk; and
In the field of search and rescue – robot snake
The seventh product is a “robot waiter” that was designed by Haifa junior high school pupils and which was developed with guidance from Technion researchers.
The device was the winner in an international robotics competition that was held in the United States last year. It shows how a robot might serve a handicapped person in his home. The robot is 35 centimeters tall and uses sensors to orient itself in its surroundings and perform tasks that it has been programmed to do.
Phinergy has developed an aluminum-air battery designed for electric vehicles, and which allows a significant increase in travel range – three times that of a regular electric vehicle. The technology will allow for a reduction in
Mobileye, a global pioneer in developing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), is to develop and market vision-based systems that will help drivers keep passengers safe on the roads and decrease traffic accidents by warning about dangerous situations and even braking the vehicle when necessary. To date, Mobileye’s technology has been implemented and launched by BMW, Volvo, GM and Ford in over one million vehicles.
ElMindA’s Brain Network Activation technology platform provides a non-invasive tool for the visualization and quantification of BNAs of specific brain functionalities, disease development and rehabilitation from injuries, reactions to treatment, psychiatric and neurological problems, and pain.
The robot snake is designed to enter spaces in collapsed structures with minimal disturbance. The robot assists in location and rescue operations and is unique in its manner of crawling and is very flexible thanks to its great number of segments.
Each joint is motorized and has a computer, sensors, wireless communications and batteries. Its head carries a camera. Thanks to its flexible structure, the snake is able to crawl through wreckage without causing additional structural collapses and provide vital information about inaccessible areas.
The Rewalk approach aims to give persons with lower limb disabilities, such as paraplegia, an experience that is as close to natural walking as possible. The ReWalk exoskeleton suit uses a patented technology with motorized legs that power knee and hip movement. Battery-powered for all-day use, ReWalk is controlled by on-board computers and motion sensors.
The MiniDesktop is a headset that enables computers to be controlled by brainwaves or facial movements. The computer is controlled without a mouse or keyboard by means of a headset that images the user’s brainwaves from 14 separate points. The system, which was developed by three software engineering graduates from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is designed to serve the physically handicapped who could not otherwise operate a computer or other devices.