Another installment in my Good News Friday series.
About 285 million people are living with diabetes worldwide. Several kinds of treatment options exist, but all of them have drawbacks. For example, insulin therapy can trigger everything from weight gain to hypoglycemia, and its administration must be constantly controlled and monitored by the patient.
But what if a diabetic patient’s own cells—extracted from mature tissue—could be turned into insulin-producing machines, secreting insulin automatically when needed? According to a biotech company named Orgenesis, this kind of cell therapy, known as autologous cell replacement, holds very real potential.
Orgenesis’s efforts have been inspired by the pioneering research of Sarah Ferber, Ph.D., who is Director of Molecular Endocrinology at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, and Chief Scientific Officer at Orgenesis.
In the treatment being developed by Dr. Ferber and Orgenesis, a standard liver biopsy is taken from the patient in a clinical center and sent to a laboratory. In the lab, the liver cells are treated with a special technique.
At the clinical center, the newly formed cells are then transplanted back to the patient’s liver where they secrete insulin. Since the initial liver cells were taken from the patient himself or herself, the chance of rejection is very limited. Orgenesis has successfully tested its technology in preclinical studies, and is working toward initiating clinical trials in humans.
Orgenesis CEO Jacob BenArie explains, “We plan to enter into a formal review from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and The European Medical Association, which is a key step in the development process for the company.”
Let’s hope the FDA give the go-ahead and that funding is found quickly to benefit all those millions of diabetes sufferers.
Another bio-medical discovery by Israeli scientists is a device which destroys breast tumours by ice.
For the past year, a novel Israeli medical device has been changing the way American doctors remove fibro-adenoma tumors – benign breast lumps. Now an internationally renowned Japanese surgeon is testing IceSense3, made in Israel by IceCure Medical, to destroy small malignant tumors as well.
“This is the future,” CEO Hezi Himelfarb tells ISRAEL21c.
During an ultrasound-guided procedure, the IceSense3 probe penetrates the tumor and destroys it by engulfing it with ice. Needing only local anesthetic, the cryoablation process takes five or 10 minutes in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center, and the patient can get up and leave afterward. No recovery period or post-care is necessary.
Before the Israeli device got US Food and Drug Administration approval in December 2010, many women preferred to simply monitor harmless growths instead of having a surgical procedure that is expensive, time-consuming and painful. The new solution, which is quick and virtually painless with no scarring, offers a more attractive option.
“I don’t know any woman who wants to get up every morning and feel a lump in her breast even if she knows it was diagnosed as benign,” Himelfarb says. “It creates anxiety because it might potentially hide other tumors, and it is preferable to get rid of it.”
Of course, if a tumor is cancerous there is no option to wait and see. A surgical lumpectomy or mastectomy must be done.
Dr. Eisuke Fukuma, chairman of the Breast Center at Kameda Medical Center in Kamogawa City, Japan, was so intrigued by IceSense3’s potential in this area that he flew all the way to IceCure’s Caesarea headquarters just for a four-hour meeting to lay the groundwork for clinical trials at his center.
On June 1, the first four patients in the trial had small tumors successfully destroyed with the device, and another 26 patients are scheduled.
“This procedure is an exciting step towards moving treatment of small, early-stage breast cancer tumors from open surgery to a minimally invasive cryoablation procedure,” Fukuma stated. “Cryoablation offers a much more comfortable and cosmetically appealing treatment option for small breast cancers.”
This invention could potentially save thousands if not millions of lives, and save many more from painful medical procedures. Kol hakavod to Israel’s excellent scientists and technologists.
My third item might not necessarily classify as good news. It might well come under the category of “what’s the point” for some people. The reason is that Israeli researchers have managed to grow marijuana that does not give a “high”.
Good news for medicinal marijuana consumers: Israeliscientists have successfully developed the first strain of cannabis that doesn’t cause intoxication.
The unique strain was grown in the greenhouse of the medical cannabis company Tikun Olam, and tested by Professor Ruth Galili of the Hebrew University’s department of Immunology. The company has recently begun to offer the drug to patients eligible for medicinal marijuana treatment.
Noam, 30, of Tel Aviv, survived a car crash at the age of 13, and has been suffering from severe pain since. She discovered medical marijuana nine years ago, after experiencing withdrawal from painkillers.
“Cannabis brought me back to life, but it also made me sluggish and dizzy,” Noam said. “Two months ago I tried the new strain and it was love at first sight.” Noam testifies that the new cannabis has the same effect on her pain, but without blurring her mind.
Unfortunately it’s not 100% good news:
Nevertheless, it is not expected to be rendered legal, since marijana use is unlawful in Israel regardless of its specific components.
Let’s hope the authorities come to their senses regarding this important development.
And just in case anyone has forgotten, the most important good news of the week was our daughter’s engagement and hinna party.
Shabbat shalom everyone!