Another week has flown by and it’s time for my next Good News Friday installment.
My first item for this week comes from Israel’s much-vaunted bio-medical sector. Tel Aviv University researchers have found a new way to fight ovarian cancer:
… Prof. Dan Peer of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Cell Research and Immunology has proposed a new strategy to tackle an aggressive subtype of ovarian cancer using a new nanoscale drug-delivery system designed to target specific cancer cells. He and his team have devised a cluster of nanoparticles called gagomers, made of fats and coated with a kind of polysugar. When filled with chemotherapy drugs, these clusters accumulate in tumors, producing dramatically therapeutic benefits.
The objective of Peer’s research is two-fold: to provide a specific target for anti-cancer drugs to increase their therapeutic benefits, and to reduce the toxic side effects of anti-cancer therapies. The study was published in February in the journal “ACS Nano”.
According to Peer, traditional courses of chemotherapy are not an effective line of attack. Chemotherapy’s failing lies in the inability of the medicine to be absorbed and maintained within the tumor cell long enough to destroy it. In most cases, the chemotherapy drug is almost immediately ejected by the cancer cell, severely damaging the healthy organs that surround it, leaving the tumor cell intact.
But with their new therapy, Peer and his colleagues saw a 25-fold increase in tumor-accumulated medication and a dramatic dip in toxic accumulation in healthy organs. Tested on laboratory mice, the gagomer mechanism effects a change in drug-resistant tumor cells. Receptors on tumor cells recognize the sugar that encases the gagomer, allowing the binding gagomer to slowly release tiny particles of chemotherapy into the cancerous cell. As more and more drugs accumulate within the tumor cell, the cancer cells begin to die off within 24-48 hours.
“Tumors become resistant very quickly. Following the first, second, and third courses of chemotherapy, the tumors start pumping drugs out of the cells as a survival mechanism,” said Peer. “Most patients with tumor cells beyond the ovaries relapse and ultimately die due to the development of drug resistance. We wanted to create a safe drug-delivery system, which wouldn’t harm the body’s immune system or organs.”
Peer chose to tackle ovarian cancer in his research because his mother-in-law passed away at the age of 54 from the disease. “She received all the courses of chemotherapy and survived only a year and a half,” he said. “She died from the drug-resistant aggressive tumors.
“At the end of the day, you want to do something natural, simple, and smart. We are committed to try to combine both laboratory and therapeutic arms to create a less toxic, focused drug that combats aggressive drug-resistant cancerous cells,” said Peer. “We hope the concept will be harnessed in the next few years in clinical trials on aggressive tumors,” said Peer.
What a fantastic discovery! Halevai (if only) this discovery will really work as Prof. Peer and his team hope. Imagine the thousands of lives that could be saved. Kol hakavod to Prof. Peer and his team, and may they see continued success in their research and its application on real patients.
My next item is a local Israeli matter which will delight all Israelis: Communications Minister Gilad Erdan has declared a reform in the Israel Broadcasting Authority, an old socialist dinosaur which has become irrelevant in the age of internet TV, 24-hour news cycles and cable and satellite TV, and has pledged to abolish the TV licence:
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan announced Thursday that he plans to replace the Israeli Broadcasting Authority with a new government body to oversee public broadcast and that he plans to annul the annual TV fee Israelis pay the IBA — Israel’s state broadcasting network, which most notably includes Channel 1 and Israel Radio.
“The bottom line is that one year from now the TV fee will be canceled,” Erdan announced in a press conference held in Jerusalem, in which the findings by the committee on public broadcast were presented to the media. The committee, set up by Erdan in 2013, is headed by veteran Israeli journalist and producer Ram Landes.
Erdan said he would follow the committee’s recommendations to gradually dismantled the IBA and outsource its productions, while simultaneously forming a new administrative body to oversee three public broadcast channels — a Hebrew channel, an Arabic channel and a children’s channel.
The IBA’s annual budget, including the funds allocated to the Israeli Educational Television, currently amounts to over 1 billion shekels ($298 million). The new public broadcaster, which will include the Educational Channel, will have an annual budget of NIS 700 million ($202 million), of which no more than 35 percent would be allocated for wages.
“It is not for nothing that I’ve decided to begin with the cancellation of the TV fee,” Erdan told reporters. “This fee has become a symbol. The public sees it as a fine, as something that they are being made to pay without getting anything in return.”
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who also participated in the press conference, urged MKs to back the process saying the new public broadcaster would be apolitical: “This new body will be detached from politics. We are taking the politicians out of this game. Politicians have no business dealing with the media,” he said.
The Jerusalem Journalists’ Association issued a statement following the press conference saying that “Following the release of the Landes committee’s recommendations we are saying ‘yes’ to exploring new ways to change and evolve, but an unequivocal ‘no’ to the wholesale infringement on the journalists’ rights.”
Knesset’s Finance Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) said Thursday that “from inquires made by the committee it seems that some of the IBA’s conduct was verging on criminal. We have to investigate that further and prosecute any guilty parties to the full extent of the law.”
All I can say to this is: about time too! Kol hakavod, Amen and chazak ve’ematz to MK Gilad Erdan.
I conclude this week’s installment with Happy Birthday wishes and mazal tovs all round to my father on his 85th birthday, my sister on her mumbleteenth birthday, and my granddaughter (one of the many) on her 3rd birthday. Wishing all of you many happy returns until 120. עד מאה ועשרים!
The cake in the picture was created by my very talented daughter-in-law – guaranteed to contain at least a million calories but worth every one!
Shabbat shalom to everyone!