In an impressive year for Israeli science, ISRAEL21c reviews some of its most popular stories of the year, from breakthroughs in cancer, to mind-controlled computing and solar windows.
NeuroAD offers drug-free help for Alzheimer’s.
It was a year when Israeli scientists developed countless imaginative ways to try to reduce our carbon footprint, making giant strides in environmental innovations, from solar energy, to desalination, and alternative fuels, and even the world’s first tugboat for airplanes.
It was also the year when a computer beat human contestants at a game show, and Israeli scientist, Danny Shechtman won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – the fourth Israeli to win the chemistry prize, and the 10th to win a Nobel.
With so much happening during 2011, it’s hard to keep track of all the advances. To refresh your memories, we’ve put together a list of the 10 most popular science stories of the year.
Vaxil BioTherapeutics’ ImMucin, a therapeutic vaccine in advanced clinical trials at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, can be tailored to treat not only 90 percent of cancers, but also mega-diseases such as tuberculosis. ImMucin is not a preventative; it activates and enhances the body’s natural immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells already present, such as those lingering after cancer surgery. The treatment causes no side effects, and can be taken indefinitely, like vitamins. CEO Julian Levy tells ISRAEL21c that ImMucin could be ready and marketable within six years.
Israeli startup Bioexplorers has a non-invasive and easy method to detect contraband in purses, luggage and cargo: trained rodents. “Mice have an excellent sense of smell, and they’re relatively easy to train,” explains CEO Eran Lumbroso. When a person goes through a Bioexplorers system passageway, a fan blows air into a sensor receptor and delivers it into a chamber containing several trained mice. If they sniff drugs or bombs, they move into another chamber and set off an alarm. “The mice rarely make an error, and the entire procedure is far less invasive or intimidating than the alternatives, like using dogs or X-ray machines,” says Lumbroso.
NeuroAD, a new electromagnetic stimulation system developed by Yokneam-based Neuronix, appears to change the course of the degenerative Alzheimer’s disease and allow patients to regain faded cognitive skills. It is the first medical device in the world to receive approval for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials, which are continuing in 2012 in Europe and the United States, show that a few weeks of this non-invasive treatment measurable results in cognitive improvement superior to improvements achieved with Alzheimer’s medications.
After Israeli electro-optical engineer Boaz Arnon lost his mother, Ruth, to breast cancer in 2004, he set his sights on inventing a more accurate, cost-effective and hands-off screening alternative to mammography. RUTH, the device he innovated and named after his mom, uses a new trademarked platform based on quantitative computer analysis of 3D and infrared signals emitted from cancerous and benign breast tissue. The brief screening procedure involves no physical contact or radiation, and could be available in doctors’ offices — initially as an adjunct to mammography — in 2012.
Could Alzheimer’s disease be prevented, not just treated? That’s the thinking behind a Tel Aviv University-developed nasal two-in-one vaccine that could protect against both Alzheimer’s and stroke. The spray appears to repair vascular damage in the brain by rounding up “troops” from the body’s own immune system. This breakthrough is of extraordinary interest to American pharmaceutical makers, given that one in eight Americans will develop Alzheimer’s at some point, and because Alzheimer’s is often associated with increased risk of a potentially fatal stroke due to vascular damage in the brain.
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