On the other hand

January 27, 2019 by Michael Kuttner
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We have just celebrated Tu B’Shevat – the Jewish festival devoted to planting trees and ecological awareness. Right on cue, the first buds are appearing and some trees are already blossoming.

All these signs remind us that although winter still may throw some cold, rainy and stormy weather at us the promise of spring is peeking over the horizon.

Israel’s innovative contributions to humanity have not gone into winter hibernation. They continue to spring forth.

ANOTHER ADVANCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER

 Researchers at Tel Aviv University say that their new study has shown that eosinophils — white blood cells that are responsible for chronic asthma and modern allergies — may be used to eliminate malignant colon cancer cells.

The largest reservoir of eosinophils is situated in the digestive system, so the researchers decided to test their theories initially on colon cancer. In the first stage of their study, the researchers chose samples from tumours of 275 patients, to determine the number of eosinophils in a tumour as compared with the stage and severity of the disease.

The researchers subsequently tested their hypotheses in various mouse models of colorectal cancer. They discovered that eosinophils displayed potent anti-tumour activities and could directly kill tumour cells.

It is hoped that this research will serve as a foundation for drug development in a number of different approaches. 

ISRAEL IN FIFTH PLACE

Israel moved up to fifth place in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, an annual ranking of the world’s 60 most innovative countries.

The index reviews dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.

Israel was ranked 10th in 2018. The United States finished eighth after being 11th last year.

South Korea led the index, followed by Germany, Finland and Switzerland.

HELPING TANZANIAN MEDICAL SPECIALISTS

Tanzanian cancer specialists have completed advanced radiotherapy training at leading Israeli cancer centres this month as part of  United Republic of Tanzania’s upgrade of treatment services for common cancers. This leads the way for further opportunities to train African cancer professionals through a new partnership between the IAEA and Israel.

This training has not only opened a new window of opportunity to offer on-the-job training to cancer professionals in Africa but also came at the right time to further enable the effective implementation of long-standing technical cooperation with the country.

TRAINING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

The disaster-relief nongovernmental organization IsraAID will launch a new, international initiative to train doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and mental-health professionals to respond to disasters.

This will equip skilled individuals in hands-on disaster relief experience and provide enhanced capacity if a local disaster were to strike.

Current IsraAID missions have provided assistance in multiple disasters including the November 2018 wildfires in California; violence in Uganda; cyclones in Vanuatu; and refugee crises in Greece, Kenya and Bangladesh.

HEALTHY FELAFEL

Ecologically friendly and nutritious microalgae that used to be a daily food source for the Aztecs in central Mexico could be making its way to Western tables in the form of a new kind of protein-rich falafel, the delicious Middle Eastern deep-fried chickpea balls.

Graduate students at the Biotechnology and Food Engineering Faculty at Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed what they call the Algalafel, a new kind of falafel that enriches the traditional ingredients with spirulina — a biomass of blue-green algae which in its dried form contains about 60 per cent protein and is seen as a solution for food insecurity and malnutrition.

PLANTING A JEWISH FUTURE

Tu B’Shevat may have finished but the rejuvenation and resettlement of Israel continues unabated:

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