It’s time for another Good News Friday post.
My first item is the good news that despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the younger generation are not motivated or patriotic enough, a new report tells us that in fact the kids are alright:
82.9% of Israeli teenagers define themselves as Zionist, while only 15.8% define themselves as non-Zionist, according to a new MarketWatch poll conducted for the Zionist Council of Israel.
An equal number, 82.9%, of respondents knew the words of the national anthem, Hatikva, perfectly. While 9.9% knew large parts of the anthem, and 1.1% said they knew none of the anthem’s words.
“The poll’s findings prove that Zionism is alive and kicking and perhaps more relevant today than ever before,” Yaakov Hagoel, the head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Activities in Israel and Countering anti-Semitism, said. “There is no doubt that Israeli youth are connected to Zionism and the land of Israel, but there is also a need to strengthen and deepen knowledge about the history of Zionism and the State of Israel, particularly in the ultra-Orthodox sector, where there are significant gaps in understanding the foundations of Zionism and the recent history of the State of Israel.”
I find this news extremely heartening, despite the fact that their knowledge of history is lacking, especially when one takes into account all the negative stories one reads about in the news. Kol hakavod to Israeli youth, and may they in turn become wise and able leaders of this nation in the next generation.
Talking about historical knowledge, my next item relates to distant history, and specifically to invaluable archaeological treasures – hundreds of thousands of gold coins, which, beyond their almost incalculable monetary value, are priceless in regards to our Jewish identity and our ancient connection to the Land of Israel (h/t MP):
My next item is from Israel’s biomedical industry once again. An Israeli company has developed a blood test for Alzheimer’s which could diagnose the dreaded disease while it is still early enough to be treated:
“Today one of the main weaknesses in the Alzheimer’s area is that patients don’t find out until it’s too late,” says Ilya Budik, CEO of NeuroQuest, an Israeli company developing a novel blood test for early detection of the most common cause of dementia worldwide.
“There are many new therapies under development, and the most successful trials are showing the earlier a patient is treated, the better likelihood of responding to the treatment,” he says.
Its first human trials in Israel showed NeuroQuest’s test — which is based on 20 years of research by Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science — to be 87 percent accurate with an 85% specificity rate in detecting Alzheimer’s and ALS, two common neurodegenerative diseases. With blood tests, Budik explains, anything over 70% is considered medically significant.
“That gave us proof of concept for Prof. Schwartz’s discovery that certain parts of the immune system are involved in protecting the central nervous system and also in healing it from neurodegenerative diseases or neural injury,” Budik tells ISRAEL21c.
If the trials go as hoped, NeuroQuest could find itself in the right place at the right time. That’s because in late 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Amyvid, a radioactive diagnostic agent for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain to see the density of harmful plaques in adults being evaluated for Alzheimer’s and other causes of cognitive decline. It wasn’t possible until now to evaluate these plaques in a living patient.
However, a PET scan costs up to $6,000 – meaning that Amyvid will not be widely available. Budik says that a relatively inexpensive positive blood test using NeuroQuest’s technology could provide enough cause for a health insurer to authorize the highly accurate PET imaging. So the two breakthroughs may work well together for the greater good.
“We envision that in 10 to 15 years, the Alzheimer’s market will look like the cancer and heart disease market looks today,” says Budik, who is in talks with other potential investors and partners. “One doesn’t want to find out one has heart disease if a heart attack is coming tomorrow. One wants to take medication to lower cholesterol and blood pressure at the first sign of high cholesterol so that the heart attack might not happen at all.”
NeuroQuest’s management hopes to provide the same early-warning capability to people in the first stages of Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and other progressive neurodegenerative diseases.
If this blood test is really as successful as is projected, it would be life-changing for millions of potential sufferers. Together with other Israeli advances like the potential new treatment NasVax, perhaps this awful illness could be, if not eradicated, at least be controllable.
Once again, kol hakavod to Israel’s great scientists and biomedical researchers, always working for the betterment of people worldwide.
This week I bring you an extra bonus piece of good news in celebration of the start of the month of Adar, a traditionally happy month in which the festival of Purim falls.
The excellent news, which I’m sure you will all appreciate, is that this coming week is National Chocolate Week in Israel. I’m afraid the link is all in Hebrew but here’s a link to the Chocolate Week’s Facebook page where you might find some information in English.
I had no idea such a wonderful idea even existed, but you can be sure I will be taking part as fully as I can.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!
משכנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה
When the month of Adar begins, we increase our joy.