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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

Israel Start-Up’s Anti-Obesity Pill Set to Go Big Time

Monday, March 11th, 2013

The Israeli start-up Gelesis is in advanced talks with a large pharmaceutical company to develop its pill that makes fat people feel their stomachs are full, resulting in less food intake and a loss in weight.

The pharma company was not identified by Israel’s Globes business newspaper, which said that Gelesis soon will publish results of a recent clinical trial of the pill.

Instead of asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider the product as a nutritional supplement or medical device, the Israeli company wants to offer it is a medicine to increase its market appeal.

The value of the deal with the foreign pharmaceutical company could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. The unidentified company will invest millions of dollars for developing the pill and will pay royalties on sales, Globes added.

The slim-down pill is made from indigestible edible fiber taken before a meal. The pills, after coming in contact with water, inflate and  make food more viscous, keeping it in the stomach longer, and creating the sense of being sated.

A study of the pill’s effects several years ago showed a high rate of those who said they felt they had enough to eat, while only 16 percent reported they suffered side effects of discomfort, which Gelesis may be able to reduce by changing the dosage for certain individuals.

Obesity is a leading cause of death, and the leading treatment for obesity is through surgery.

The obesity treatment market currently includes various appetite suppressants, but the leading solution for morbid obesity is stomach bypass or reduction surgery. Although other products for filling the stomach are under development, Gelesis’ edge is that its product works with food.

A small number of diet drugs are on the market or are being studied by the FDA, but their success has been limited.

Besides Gelesis, at least one other company, EntroMedics, has developed a system to limit the expansion of the stomach and control hunger sensations. However, clinical trials last month were disappointing.

Israeli Mother of Terror Victim Cheers Sick People as Medical Clown

Monday, March 4th, 2013

On March 1, 2001, Claude Knapp was murdered by a suicide bomber while taking a shared taxi from Tel Aviv that exploded around the Mei Ami Junction. He was 29 years of age. Nine other people were injured. Claude’s dog survived this terror attack, however, unlike his owner, yet was traumatized for the rest of his life, refusing to bark like other dogs traditionally do. It demonstrates that animals, just like people, can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. As can be expected, life was never the same after that point for Claude’s mother and two other siblings.

Claude Knapp was murdered in a terrorist attack.

Claude Knapp was murdered in a terrorist attack.

Since that time, Daniele Knapp, Claude’s mother, who presently lives in Afula, has been an outspoken advocate against terrorism and against foreign funding reaching terrorists. She went as part of a delegation with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to The Hague, where she was interviewed by Spanish, French, and German reporters. Daniele also spoke at an event organized in Boston by the Israel Project. Unfortunately, the Palestinian who murdered Daniele’s son, Ziad Kilani, was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

Daniele does not comprehend how Palestinian suicide bombers and their families can be so cruel. She claims that she can never understand parents who just lost their children yet hand out sweets and candy after their children are dead or just murdered Jews.  According to Daniele, “Having a child is a gift from Hashem and someone who doesn’t appreciate that is something terrible. To fight is not the most important thing.” She was thus critical of Arab forces, such as those actually in Syria, who preferred weapons over humanitarian aid for needy children.

It has been about twelve years since Daniele lost her son.   She deals with her grief mainly by becoming a volunteer medical clown where she cheers up people who suffer from various illnesses.   According to the Simchat Halev Organization where she studied to be a clown:

Every one needs to laugh—especially children and adults who are hospitalized with serious medical conditions.   Laughter not only raises a patients’ spirits; it’s been proven to reduce anxiety, speed the recovery process and simply make life better.   And that’s what Simchat Halev is all about.   Simchat Halev is a magical organization that creates laughter, humor and happiness in environments where, most often, nothing seems funny—like hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.

Daniele has gone to numerous events to help needy children, where she would hand out balloons, magic, engage in dolls theatre and make people laugh, and to entertain children inside of bomb shelters. This past Purim, she visited a child who had cancer. According to Daniele, usually the children are very happy whenever she comes to them. Indeed, one parent wrote to her stating,

I saw you and Y***** in the pictures and you both have a real and happy smile from the heart. I too get emotional when I see this. And to know that he told everyone about how wonderful it was with you, about him being happy and joyful – this is a true present a person could wish for. Even though I never met you, I know and feel from your letters your love and attention and caring for people. You give them your heart, you care for everyone personally, and they feel it. The wonderful love within you is unique. You are unique.

By making underprivileged children laugh and smile, Daniele is truly doing a mitzvah. Yet it is important to note that Daniele is doing this all in the memory of her beloved son, Claude. She claimed,

I believe joy is one of the things that can cure the sadness. I think that every one can do his own joy. […] Dr. Hunter Patch Adams has a philosophy we should be very creative and to push people to be happy and trust that this happiness will give them strength, and if we keep crying about what has happened to us, then we will never enjoy our life.

Daniele’s clown name is DR Caramel.  When visiting the sick, there is no color or religious difference and this proves that we should bring joy and love to everyone who has suffered.

Originally published at United with Israel.

Guess What? High Cholesterol Helps Elderly Live Longer

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

A new Israeli study suggests that people in their 80s should throw away the low cholesterol diet and go for the French Fries and steak.

Researchers at the Belinson Medical Center in Petach Tikvah, located adjacent to Tel Aviv, tested 500 elderly patients over a period five years and reported that those with higher cholesterol live longer. The average age of the patients was 82.

Dr. Abraham Weiss, deputy director of the Department of Geriatrics, said that cholesterol, long thought to be risk to good health and a contributing cause to heart disease and brain damage, is actually good for people once they reach the Golden Age.

The Maariv newspaper reported the researchers’ conclusions Thursday and pointed out that the patients were not given any drugs to reduce cholesterol during the study.

Every person is different, but Dr. Weiss estimates that the surprising findings indicate that cholesterol has a reverse effect for the elderly and actually helps soften the arteries.

He warned that the study should not be accepted as conclusive but that doctors should think twice before assuming that it is advisable to give the elderly drugs that lower cholesterol.

Those under the age of 80 should continue to keep their cholesterol levels low.

February is American Heart Month in the United States, and the U.S.-based Home Access Health Corporation advised this week, “We all know people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke unexpectedly; that’s why it’s important for people to manage their cholesterol levels as part of an overall approach to good health.”

But once you get to the 80s, you might be able to healthily go back to eating chicken liver, b utter, whipped cream and lots of puddings.

Israeli Medical Smartphone Spreading Freedom, Happiness, Around the World

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Israeli scientific breakthroughs are restoring freedom and ease to the lives of millions of patients throughout the world.

A breakthrough medical smartphone devised by an Israeli company will not only enable patients to consolidate ongoing medical tests and diagnostics in one handy place, but will also provide them the freedom of travel and ease of use lost with conventional medical monitoring.

LifeWatch Technologies , based in Rehovot, has introduced the new LifeWatch V Android-based phone, the first of its kind smartphone device to measure blood glucose levels, oxygen saturation, blood glucose levels, stress levels, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as chart diet, provide reminders to take medications, and even measure daily activity through embedded sensors.  Data and results are provided to the user and to third parties such as healthcare providers or caretakers, via email or text message.  The device wirelessly interacts with a remote cloud-based environment, enabling users to take advantage of related complementary medical and wellness-related services.  And it makes and receives regular phone calls. Medical information will also be sent to one of LifeWatch’s US emergency call centers – one for each time zone – with a center currently in development in Israel.

CEO Dr. Yacov Geva told Israeli science and technology website Israel21c that the device is particularly useful in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, and said he thinks it is particularly appropriate for children, because it will not only enable parents to monitor health data while permitting children to conduct normal lives at school and elsewhere away from home, but will allow parents to keep an eye on the regularity of testing so they can provide reminders if they see a test is being missed during the day.

The stainless steel-framed phones will be manufactured by TechFaith Wireless Communication Technoogy of China according to Israeli specs and industrial design, and will provide interface options in Hebrew, English, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.  The device will cost between $500 and $700 a unit, and will likely be on the market next year, pending approval in the EU and the US.

New technology may be developed to assist the speech of those unable to communicate due to paralysis or disability, thanks to a joint study between scientists at Haifa’s Technion and UCLA who have uncovered how brain cells encode the pronunciation of vowels in speech.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study showed that different parts of the brain are engaged in the pronunciation of different vowel sounds.

The study was conducted by Professor Shy Shoham and Dr. Ariel Tankus of the biomedical engineering faculty at Haifa’s Technion and Professor Itzhak Fried of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, in partnership with the neurosurgery department at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study was based on knowledge about the brain’s predictable responses to bodily movements, and followed 11 American epileptics whose conditions could not be controlled with medication.

Data was gathered when the patients, who suffered from damaged portions of the brain, had electrodes implanted in their brains to measure neuron activity as they spoke.

The team studied how and where the neurons encoded vowel articulation, and learned that the two parts of the brain associated with the saying of vowels respond in different ways and to different vowels.

The scientists lauded the discovery as a potential starting point for developing neuro-prosthetic devices or brain-machine interfaces to decode the brain’s firing pattern for speech.

Providing freedom from severe clinical depression which has not responded to medication or therapy, the doctors at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem are performing a radical experimental procedure involving a “brain pacemaker”, which will provide Deep Brain Stimulation via electrodes implanted in the patients’ brains.  Four Israeli patients are taking part in the trial, and another six are being recruited.

The treatment  is covered in Israel by medical insurance, with patients being eligible only after failing at least three different drug treatments and electro-convulsive therapy.

The new device will deliver electric currents to areas of cranial overactivity to help regulate the mood.

So far, the treatment has achieved a 70 percent success rate.

My Son the Pioneer Jewish Doctor

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

While some religions place ultimate responsibility for healing in divine hands, “Jews don’t see a conflict between faith and medicine,” says Alan M. Kraut, a professor of history at American University who helped put together the exhibition “Trail of the Magic Bullet: The Jewish Encounter With Modern Medicine, 1860-1960,” on view at Yeshiva University Museum in Manhattan.

“The healer is seen as one of God’s instruments, not a competing force,” he said. “The physician is someone held in the highest esteem, doing God’s work — preserving life.”

Of course, the good professor is ignoring statements like “Even the best among the doctor will end up in Hell,” which is our sages’ way of stating the opposite of that God’s work thing.

But the exhibition looks fabulous. The Times review cites an application to medical school from the 1920s, on which the interviewer scribbled: “Probably Jewish, but no unpleasant evidence of it.”

Were it only true for all of us…

Israeli IVF Success Doubles in Decade

Monday, May 14th, 2012

A new Health Ministry reports shows that a whopping 25 percent of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)treatments resulted in pregnancies, with 20% of attempts resulting in live births.  The number represents the doubling of success in the last decade.

According to the report, 4.1% of births in Israel were the result of IVF treatments in 2010, compared to 2.5% in 1997.  In 2010, 8,123 IVF cycles resulted in pregnancy, with 4,217 achieving success in 2000.

The average women gave birth to 1.2 babies, a consistent figure which is accounted for by the common Israeli practice of returning only one or two embryos to a woman’s body, so as to avoid the risk of multiple births.

Healthy ministry officials attribute the surge in success to Israeli advancement in IVF technology and procedure, and extensive scientific and medical research.

Israeli law provides all women with free and unlimited IVF procedures for up to two live babies.  In 2011, 35,000 IVF cycles were completed throughout the country, up from 18,011 in 2000.

Among the reasons for the rising figures in IVF treatment success is the advanced scientific and medical research in the field of medicine.

In May, Jerusalem’s Shaarei Zedek hospital celebrated its 200th successful pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) IVF procedure, in which doctors examine embryos on the molecular level to assist families with pre-dispositions for debilitating genetic disorders to have healthy children.

Dr. Michael Gal, Senior Physician in Shaarei Zedek’s IVF unit, told the Jewish Press’s Yishai Fleisher that Israel has the highest number of IVF units per capita in the world because of government support and because “we love children here”.

Technologically Speaking

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I watch in wonder as four teenagers grab chairs around a table at a local café. They seem to be friends, or at least fond acquaintances, all joining together for a ten-day Birthright tour of Israel. I watch these boys from a balcony above, and I observe that immediately upon sitting down, three of the four boys at the table proceed to reach for their laptops. The fourth boy didn’t seem to have one with him and attached himself to his friend’s laptop. They immediately logged into their Facebook accounts and spent the remainder of their meal connecting to friends in their respective countries. I found out later that this was their first night in Israel, so they must have been telling their friends about their trip since arrival. I would have been okay with this had this activity lasted ten maybe fifteen minutes, but it lasted the entire time these boys sat at the café together.

At the next table sat a couple who appeared to be dating or even possibly engaged. The girl spent her entire time at the table looking at her Blackberry and oblivious to the gentleman sitting across from her. Nothing this poor man could say or do could sway her attention even one iota from her much more enticing technological device. For a while during the dinner, he too took out his Blackberry and did some texting of his own. It would have been nice had they been texting each other. Unfortunately, it is far more likely they were sitting directly across from each other, yet completely absorbed in their own world, texting other people. They finished their meal, paid the bill, left the table, and walked out of the café without her looking up once. I was amazed to see how she did this without tripping down the stairs on the way out.

Two completely different groups of people at a popular Israeli café, yet both demonstrated something in common. People have abandoned the art of face-to-face communication in favor of the presumably more exciting art of communicating over devices. It is sad to consider that if we keep going in this direction, the art of face-to face communication could become completely lost on the next generation. People will simply forget how to carry on a normal and basic conversation – for lack of practice.

Some of the older couples at the café still appeared to be communicating with each other, but for the younger crowd, many of them may not even have noticed if half of their dinner mates got up and left the table. I fear the loss of face-to-face communication skills, as there is almost nothing as healing and cathartic as a face-to-face discussion with a friend. A friend who physically shows you compassion and empathy through his/her facial expressions, eye contact and gestures, and provides important guidance and advice if need be. A friend who hears you out, so you come away feeling heard. This feeling deepens connection between people.

The act of sitting across from someone and sharing thoughts, ideas, and experiences about life is nourishment for the soul – yet it may just be gone in a few decades. In fact, museums in fifty to one hundred years may have a “human communication exhibit” in which they show how human communication has progressed throughout the ages. The centuries up to and including the twentieth century will be called, “The Era of Face-to-Face Communication.” The twenty first century will be dubbed, “The Era of Electronic Communication,” whereby people primarily communicate via computers, cell phones and the like. How sad will it be for future generations who, at the rate we are going, will likely lose the fine art of non-electronic communication. How will people do basic tasks such as interviewing, meeting in-laws for the first time, returning an item to a department store, or sitting at a table of strangers at a wedding? Maybe they won’t. Maybe all of these interactions will be converted to electronic ones and everything will happen through a device. Maybe you won’t need to have that first awkward meeting with your in-laws because you’ll just type a few friendly greetings on your iPad and attach a photo of yourself; Telemedicine, or the practice of having your medical exams done via a computer to a doctor who is many miles away, will replace traditional medicine, and interviewing for a job will be done via a video hook-up without you ever having to leave the confines of your home.

Living in America in 2012, this all still sounds a bit far-fetched. But maybe one day this will be a reality. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not belittling technological advancement. I know we all benefit tremendously from these advances in every area of our lives – from medicine to education to the day-to-day running of our homes. But if social networks are supposed to connect people, why are people feeling more alienated and lonely than ever before? In midst of all the electronic communicating we are engaged in, many of us come away dissatisfied and discontented. We crave the basic eye contact we once enjoyed with our good friends, the upturn of a smile, the warm embrace, the shoulder to cry on when things got tough, and the high-five or tender hug of congratulations when the news was good.

Hollywood to the Holy Land (Part 2)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

We left off the first part of my story with me bleeding my guts out in Hollywood. Shaken by my friend’s question why I didn’t know anything about Judaism, I rushed to a Jewish bookstore in the Fairfax neighborhood and bought a book about the basics of Judaism. Rosh HaShanah was coming, and I read about the custom of Tashlich. So on Rosh HaShanah day, I walked down to the beach and threw my cortisone pills into the Pacific Ocean. “Please God,” I begged. “Accept these pills as my sins and please heal me without any more medicine.”

During my quest to discover what lay at the bottom of my colitis, I had tried everything. Suddenly I realized that my separation from God was the source of my problems. But without the medicine, I became sicker and sicker. I started bleeding profusely. Within a short time, I lost twenty pounds. Finally, I had to be hospitalized. I was given cortisone intravenously for a week. Just to emphasize how far away I was from Judaism, the book that I brought with me to the hospital was a manual about yoga. Though my first readings of the Bible led me to understand that God wanted Jews to be in Israel, I was hoping to find God on a journey to India.

The minute I got out of the hospital, I stopped taking the cortisone once again. I figured that by relying on the medicine, I would never get down to the root of the problem. Once again, I started to bleed. One evening, I became really scared, thinking that if I kept boycotting the medicine, I would either bleed to death, or I would have to have my colon surgically removed. That night I had a dream. I was in a second-hand clothes shop, looking at old clothes when I spotted a door to another room. Curious, I stepped inside. The inner room was filled with books in Hebrew, four walls of bookshelves stacked with holy Jewish texts, like the study hall of a yeshiva. I didn’t understand Hebrew at that time, but I was filled with a profound sense of peace and calm – what the Hindus call “Nirvana.” I just wanted to stand there and soak in the holiness of the books. But the shop owner appeared and said he wanted to close the store. I begged him to let me stay another five minutes, just to stand there and look at the magical tomes. Grudgingly, he agreed. That’s when I saw another door to yet another inner room. Venturing forward, I stepped inside. The room was empty except for a huge black box in the center of the floor. It was a giant tefillin, looking like some gigantic oversized prop in a Woody Allen movie. Gazing at it, my heart swelled with love. Man, how I wanted that tefillin!

Suddenly, I heard a tremendous thunderous Voice From Above, like a Voice out of Sinai, proclaiming, “THIS IS THE ANSWER! YOU HAVE TO ATTACH YOURSELF TO GOD!”

I woke up, startled. My heart was pounding. The Voice still rang in my ears. It was the clearest, truest, most real experience I had ever had in my life.

Several years later, when I finally made it to a yeshiva, I discovered that my dream was amazingly similar to the dream of the king at the beginning of the book, “The Kuzari.” In the king’s dream, an angel appears and tells him that his desire to get close to God is pleasing, but that his actions are not the right actions. That’s the catalyst that sets him on a quest to find the actions pleasing to God, which turn out to be the commandments of the Torah.

But way back then in Hollywood, I had never heard of “The Kuzari,” and I was still a long way off from making a commitment to Torah.

Nevertheless, I was so shaken up by the dream that when morning came, I went to an Orthodox shul and asked the rabbi to show me how to put on tefillin. He happily agreed and told me to say the Shema Yisrael prayer, which I still remembered from Hebrew School. But even though I would return to the synagogue every morning to put on tefillin, I was still bleeding profusely. Finally, I decided that I had to continue taking the cortisone. That very same morning, my uncle phoned, asking if I could drive him to the hospital. He had to have laser surgery on a cataract, so he needed someone to drive him home after the procedure. Since his wife (my aunt) was a doctor, I asked him if she could write me out a prescription for the cortisone, because I wanted to avoid the tortuous medieval examinations I always had to suffer whenever I went to the gastroenterologist. When I met him later that morning, he handed me the prescription. At the hospital, all during his treatment, I stood outside the operating room and prayed the same mantra over and over, “God, please heal my uncle. God, please heal my uncle, God, please heal my uncle.” For forty-five minutes straight. Fortunately, the treatment was a success. When I returned to my apartment, I headed straight to the bathroom, as was my usual custom. But this time, there was no bleeding! The blood had vanished. Disappeared! No more! I felt like God had reached out a finger, touched my belly, and healed my colitis. I was astounded, dumbstruck by the miracle.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/hollywood-to-the-holy-land-part-2/2012/05/04/

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