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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv University’

Israeli Study Finds No Increased Risk With Induced Deliveries

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

A new Tel Aviv University study has found there is no increased risk when labor is induced by rupturing the amniotic sac in a birthing mother.

The findings showed the natural spontaneous deliveries and induced deliveries after rupture of the amniotic sac shared similar neonatal outcomes, according to a report published in the August 8 medical journal, Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

The study was led by Dr. Liran Hiersch and Dr. Eran Ashwal at the Sackler School of Medicine and the Helen Schneider Hospital for Women at Rabin Medical Center.

“Induced labor — the process of jumpstarting delivery using prostaglandin — has gotten a bad rap. We found little justification for this” in the case of women whose water broke prematurely, said Hiersch. “People have an idea that everything natural is better, including childbirth. But induction is not necessarily more dangerous for mother and child than Mother Nature herself.”

The researchers studied the outcomes in the births of 625 mothers who were admitted to Rabin Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Most expectant mothers are warned about artificially induced deliveries. These warnings counsel that induction may cause a low fetal heart rate, an increased risk of infection to mother and baby, and uterine rupture or excessive bleeding after delivery. However, the researchers concluded those warnings might not be accurate. “We have found that induction produces healthy mothers and infants, with risk factors similar to those of spontaneous deliveries,” Hiersch said.

It is important to note that women in the induction group were found to be at an increased risk for Caesarean section (CS), but researchers said they believe this was due mainly to blocked birth canals and not the induction itself.

Artificial induction is a possibility for all expectant mothers who have approached two weeks past their delivery date, who experience high blood pressure or diabetes, who have a uterine infection or who simply haven’t experienced contractions despite their water having broken. These women are often hospitalized for 24 hours. But after 24 hours have passed without natural delivery, most medical professionals will induce labor artificially to reduce subsequent risks to mother and child.

Hana Levi Julian

TAU Researchers Decipher Malignant Melanoma

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

When malignant melanoma metastasizes to the brain, it is a death sentence for most patients. Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers and the mechanisms that govern early metastatic growth and interactions of metastatic cells with the brain microenvironment remain shrouded in mystery.

A new Tel Aviv University study reveals a novel way of detecting brain micrometastases months before they transform into malignant inoperable growths. According to the research, micro-tumor cells hijack astrogliosis, the brain’s natural response to damage or injury, to support metastatic growth. This knowledge may lead to the detection of brain cancer in its first stages and permit early intervention.

The study was led by Dr. Neta Erez of the Department of Pathology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and published in Cancer Research.

Following the path to cancer

Dr. Erez and her team used mouse models to study and follow the spontaneous metastasis of melanoma in the brain. She and her partners recapitulated all the stages of metastasis: the initial discovery of melanoma in the skin, the removal of the primary tumor, the micrometastatic dissemination of cancer cells across the body, the discovery of a tumor and death.

The detection of metastasis depends on imaging techniques that still can’t detect micrometastases. Melanoma patients whose initial melanoma was excised believe that everything is fine for months or years following the initial procedure.

But following the removal of the primary tumor, micrometastatic cells learn to communicate with cells in their new microenvironment in the brain — cells which are, at first, hostile to them. But eventually a tumor appears. These cells travelled across the body to the brain or other organs but were undetectable at the micro level. When they become detectable, it is too late for treatment.

Opening the “black box”

Dr. Erez calls the period of the initial growth of disseminated micrometastatic cells in distant organs the metastasis’ “black box” — the history of melanoma in the brain. “We believe that we have found the tools to characterize this black box,” said Dr. Erez. “And this is key to developing therapeutic approaches that may prevent brain metastatic relapse.

“Every organ in body has a defense system that detects intruders,” said Dr. Erez. “Much of this is regulated by support cells in the brain. When there is tissue damage due to a stroke or viral infection, these cells are activated and induce an inflammatory response.

“At the earliest stages of metastasis, we already see astrogliosis and inflammation. The brain perceives the micrometastatic invasion as tissue damage, activating inflammation — its natural defense mechanism. We found that the inflammation unfortunately gets hijacked by tumor cells that are able to grow faster and penetrate deeper because the blood vessels in the brain are more permeable than in any other part of the body. We found that all of this happens very early on.”

Dr. Erez is currently studying detailed molecular pathways in the brain’s biological response to find a way to block the metastases. “We’re hoping to develop the detection tools for humans that we developed in mice,” said Dr. Erez. “We’re also trying to find molecular targets that will allow us to prevent metastasis rather than trying to treat it.”

This article was originally published by AFTAU.

David Israel

Israelis Placing at the Top at Science Olympics Around the World

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

While Israel’s top athletes are competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, some young Israeli scientists have been winning a remarkable number of medals at the “science olympics” around the globe. An Israeli delegation of high-school students won two medals on Friday at the International Olympiad in Informatics held in Kazan, Russia.

Tomer Adar, a student at the Ruppin School in Emek Hefer, won a silver medal at the Olympiad, and Liran Markin, a student at the WIZO high school in Nahalal, took bronze. The delegation was also comprised of Noam Ta-Shma from Tel Aviv and Ron Solan from Herzliya and was coached by Dr. David Ginat of Tel Aviv University.

“Israeli students repeatedly achieve international success in scientific competitions and bring honor and pride to the State of Israel,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The competition included delegations from 81 countries while Israel ranked at 28th place overall. China was ranked first, followed by Russia and the United States.

The victory at the competition marks the fourteenth by Israelis this summer at science olympiads. An Israeli delegation also won the silver and bronze medals and ranked 20th in the world at the Chemistry Olympiad held in Tbilisi, Georgia earlier in August.

Other achievements include six medals at the Mathematics Olympiad held in Hong Kong and four medals at the Physics Olympiad held in Zurich, Switzerland.

President Reuven Rivlin held a reception in honor of some of the young scientists at his residence in Jerusalem on Sunday where he thanked them for their achievements.

“Good morning to you my champions. I thank you in the name of the entire nation for your achievements,” the president greeted the medalists of the Chemistry Olympiad, Ron Solan and Sevostianov.

Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Survey Finds Israelis Have Few Delusions about Peace, IDF Brass

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Against a background of recent disputes between the IDF senior command and right-leaning groups in the Israeli Jewish public, as well as with senior political leaders on the right, the July Peace Index focused on aspects of the IDF’s relationships with the public and with the political leadership. Or, rather, its Tuesday’s press release said so. As in all things factual, God is in the details; and when it comes to public opinion surveys, the details emanate from the questions.

To illuminate things, the Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. The IDI is mostly made up of hard-left academics, with a smattering of token right-leaning individuals.

Now, rather than copy and paste the executive summary which was emailed to news organizations in a press release, JNI.media examined the actual data, which the Peace Index website also offers.

For whatever reason, it turns out the PI press release completely ignored the second question posed to its July group of 500 Jews and 100 Arabs: “Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to peace between Israel and the Palestinians?”

Among the Jewish respondents, only 4% strongly believe in such a possibility. 16.1% believe it moderately. 35.4% moderately do not believe it. 41.1% do not believe it at all. We feel this should have been the focus of the survey: some 77% of Israeli Jews do not believe peace is a possibility. Incidentally, the Arab group is more optimistic, with 27% strongly believing in a coming peace, 19% moderately.

But maybe the PI has grown tired of getting this same answer to the peace question from Israeli Jews, who have grown thoroughly disillusioned and simply no longer expect their Arab neighbors to accept them as a legitimate political entity.

So, turning to the subject on which the PI press release opted to focus: how close is the apparent value system of the IDF senior command and that of the general public and of the political leadership? The question posed was: “At present, is the framework of values of the IDF’s senior command level close to or distant from the framework of values of the general Israeli public?”

Very few Jews, 7.2%, actually believe the two are very close. The middle was taken up by 41.7% who see them as moderately close and 28.7% as moderately distant. 8% believe they’re very distant. In other words, about 78% of Israeli Jews perceive a gap between the ideology of the IDF leadership and the rest of the nation. That is some gap.

A very similar outcome emerges in response to a comparison between the IDF leadership and the political leadership. A whopping 69% perceive a distance between the two. In a democratic country, such a perception of the military skewing to the left of where the elected officials and the political majority stand is reason for anxiety.

More Israelis disagree than agree with the assertion by Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, head of the Bnei David pre-military academy in Eli, that the IDF has adopted a pluralist worldview, expressed through HR allocations, appointments and budgets, that opposes halakha and pushes out religious-Zionist and ultra-Orthodox soldiers and officers. 33% of the Jews agree with Rabbi Levenstein, 52.3% disagree.

But one must ask how much of the Levenstein lecture that caused the public brouhaha did those 52.3% actually get to hear?

Are they aware of the recent Liba organization report that points out blatantly anti-religious IDF orders, like the prohibition on growing beards. Or do they know that the age limit for career officers enrolling in the IDF battalion commander course was cut down to 32, deliberately in order to disqualify religious officers whose career track, mixing yeshiva study and military service, is longer? Do they know that the Education Corps promotes soldiers’ interaction with Muslim, Christian and Reform and Conservative practices, at the expense of the more established faith, Orthodox Judaism? Is it possible that those responses would have been different had the respondents been aware of the realities Levenstein’s talk represented?

Finally, here’s a stacked question where the phrasing presages the answer. The PI question was: “In your opinion, is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values—for example, regarding acceptance of the other when it comes to the LGBT community?”

What the question does, slyly, is introduce a claim that the values of openness and pluralism are mainly expressed by embracing homosexuals. It doesn’t offer any other choices for pluralism, such as permitting religious soldiers to abstain from concerts with female singers (they must stay and listen); or accepting a call from a brigade commander to go to battle that includes the Shema Israel; or accepting the fact that the vast majority of religious Jews view homosexuality as a repugnant phenomenon, which some are prepared to tolerate, but nothing more.

To produce a reliable response, the question should have been either, “Is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values,” with which the vast majority would have agreed (who doesn’t want to be open and pluralistic?) or “Do you support homosexuals serving in the IDF?” — without endowing the LGBT with the mitigating term of “the other,” which would have produced a truer reflection of the Israeli public’s views on the matter.

This month’s survey was conducted by telephone on July 25-27, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents (500 Jews and 100 Arabs), who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.


Weizman Institute Revealing Secrets of Protective Coating of Wheat and Barley

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Young cultivated wheat has a very particular color. As opposed to wild wheat species, which can be either glossy green or matte and bluish gray, cultivated varieties are always the latter. An international team led by Weizmann Institute scientists has discovered the mechanisms by which plants produce the major component of the bluish-gray, waxy film that coats cultivated wheat. This film is thought to help increase yield and protect the stem, leaves and spikes of the plant against environmental hazards, particularly drought. The findings, reported recently in The Plant Cell, may in the future be used to impart hardiness to other crops.

Scientists have been trying for several decades to decipher how certain wheat varieties, and a number of other plants, manufacture their protective bluish-gray coating. Its presence on the plants’ surface is a dynamic feature, appearing at certain stages in plant growth or only on certain organs, reinforcing the notion that the wax-like substance plays an active role in defending the plant. But figuring out the wheat genome, which contains multiple sets of chromosomes and repeated copies of some of the genes, has presented a notoriously difficult challenge.

Weizmann’s Prof. Asaph Aharoni has picked up the gauntlet: His lab specializes in studying plant surfaces – what they’re made of and how they function. In the new study graduate student Shelly Hen-Avivi and other researchers on Aharoni’s team compared the genomes of two different types of wheat, one glossy green and the other bluish gray. They assessed gene activity in these two wheat types at different stages of their growth using various methods, including next-generation RNA sequencing technology, which makes it possible to simultaneously evaluate the expression of vast numbers of genes. The team also made use of the full readout of the wheat genome, sequenced recently by a consortium that included scientists from Tel-Aviv University, the Weizmann Institute and the Israeli company NRGene.

(l-r) Prof. Asaph Aharoni, Sergey Malitsky, Shelly Hen Avivi, Dr. Elena Kartvelishvily, Dr. Gilgi Friedlander and Efrat Almekias-Siegl. The secrets of wheat's color may help protect other plants. / Courtesy

(l-r) Prof. Asaph Aharoni, Sergey Malitsky, Shelly Hen Avivi, Dr. Elena Kartvelishvily, Dr. Gilgi Friedlander and Efrat Almekias-Siegl. The secrets of wheat’s color may help protect other plants. / Courtesy

Over the course of experiments that lasted several years, Aharoni’s team managed to zero in on a cluster of three genes that were shown to produce beta-diketone, a waxy compound that constitutes the major component of the bluish-gray coating. Such groups of adjacent genes, responsible for a particular feature of the plant’s metabolism and known as metabolic clusters, are increasingly being discovered in plant genomes. When the scientists silenced the newly identified genes in wheat grown from seeds of bluish-gray plants, it grew to be glossy-green, which confirmed their findings. The researchers then deciphered the chain of biochemical reactions that leads to beta-diketone synthesis, including the genes and enzymes involved. Next, the team repeated the same research with barley, which also has a bluish-gray coating – as do certain species of rye and the leaves of eucalyptus trees. They found that the metabolic gene cluster and biochemical reactions that are responsible for the synthesis of beta-diketone in wheat perform the same function in barley.

In the future it may be possible to make use of the study’s findings to breed crops with a higher yield and a greater resistance to drought, by genetically engineering plants to contain the genes for beta-diketone production or by enhancing the activity of existing beta-diketone genes. It might conceivably be possible, for example, to introduce the beta-diketone genes derived from wheat into cucumbers or tomatoes. Whatever these vegetables will lose in brightness, they will gain in sturdiness.

This project was a collaborative effort between the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel-Aviv University, the University of British Columbia, and Rothamsted Research and the John Innes Centre, both in the United Kingdom.

Prof. Asaph Aharoni’s research is supported by the Tom and Sondra Rykoff Family Foundation; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Adelis Foundation; and Yossie and Dana Hollander, Israel. Prof. Aharoni is the incumbent of the Peter J. Cohn Professorial Chair.


Survey: Majority of Israeli Jews Favor Keeping Judea and Samaria, Israeli Arabs Favor Keeping Large Settlement Blocs

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

“Sometime after the Six Day War the settlement enterprise began to develop. In your opinion, from a perspective of 50 years later, has the settlement enterprise contributed to or damaged Israel’s national interest?” was one of the opening questions in a June survey comparing the attitudes of Israeli Jews and Arabs on the liberated territories.

The survey found that 52% of the Jewish public thinks the settlement enterprise has contributed to the national interest.

And so the survey noted that “some claim that over the years Israeli governments have invested many resources and monies in developing the Jewish settlements and infrastructures in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, and previously also in Gaza, at the expense of other areas and populations in Israel that are disadvantaged and would have needed these resources and budgets. Others claim that there is no connection between the two because one does not come at the expense of the other.” Then it inquired, “With which claim do you agree?”

49% of the Jews said there is no connection between the two; 45% say the investment in the territories comes at the expense of budgets for deprived areas and disadvantaged populations.

In the Arab public, a two-thirds majority considers the investments in the territories a detraction from investments in deprived areas and disadvantaged populations inside green line Israel.

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Surveys of the Israel Democracy Institute. The June survey, conducted by phone on June 28-29, 2016, included 600 respondents — 500 Jews, 100 Arabs, who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.1%.

The survey also found that a majority of the Jewish respondents do not know for sure the size of the Jewish or of the Palestinian population in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. Asked how many Jews live in these territories (not counting the neighborhoods of expanded Jerusalem such as Gilo or Pisgat Ze’ev), about 25% underestimated the figure to be 100,000-250,000, 30% answered correctly that the number is 250,000-500,000, 13% gave an overestimate of 500,000-750,000, 3% thought the correct number was 750,000 to a million, and about 25% did not know at all.

As to the Arab population in Judea and Samaria, not counting Jerusalem, the estimates were: 24%—half a million to a million, 36%—one to two million, 10%—two million to three million, and 3%—over three million. 27% did not know.

The fact is that no one really knows how many Arabs live today in the parts of Judea and Samaria governed by the Palestinian Authority, and so, in this instance, there is no wrong answer.

59% of the Jews and 73% of the Arabs favor holding a referendum on Israel leaving the territories. As to how the respondents would vote in such a referendum, 52% of the Jews reported that in the existing situation they would vote against a withdrawal, while 36% answered that they would vote in favor.

Among the Arabs 69% said that if a referendum were to be held today, they would vote in favor of leaving the territories while retaining the large settlement blocs.

Only 51% the Jewish respondents believe all the citizens of the state would be entitled to participate in such a referendum. 44% believe that only the Jewish citizens of the country should be entitled to participate.

David Israel

US, Israel to Sign Super-Speed Cyber Info Sharing Deal

Monday, June 20th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is set to sign an agreement Tuesday on behalf of Washington with Israel to automate the sharing of cyber data between the two nations.

Mayorkas made the announcement Monday at a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University during an appearance with the head of the university’s cyber department, IDF Maj.Gen. (res.) Isaac Ben-Israel.

The new agreement will upgrade the speed of information sharing and help allies avoid hacker attacks with timely data at a time when cyber terror attacks threaten government resources, the two men said.

“The data about the attacks is on our computers,” Ben-Israel told The Jerusalem Post in an interview during the conference, “but sometimes we see it too late.” The problem of hackers rapidly replicating data is one that has programmers working hard to develop new defenses against cyber terror attacks.

Israel is engaged in developing new technologies that he said were, among other things, “using a much larger data set,” which could help to “defend against the next threat.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-israel-to-sign-super-speed-cyber-info-sharing-deal/2016/06/20/

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