Good News Friday

Thank goodness it’s Friday, nearly Shabbat, and time for another Good News Friday installment.

Chiliadenus iphionoides (sharp varthemia), a Middle Eastern shrub found to be effective in treating diabetes. (CC BY-SA Eitan F., Wikimedia Commons)

Since BDS was all the talk of the town last week, my first item for this week will hopefully be a large kick in the teeth for those bigots. Israeli researchers have discovered a shrub that can treat diabetes – and the researchers are from Judea (i.e. over that “holy” green line that the boycotters won’t cross).

Dr. Jonathan Gorelick of the Judea Research and Development Center will present the results of his study of Chiliadenus iphionoides (sharp varthemia), an aromatic shrub that grows in Israel and throughout the Middle East, at the 25th Judea and Samaria Research Studies Conference in Ariel University on Thursday.

Dr. Gorelick and his team, who published the results of their study of sharp varthemia in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in October 2011, found that consumption of the yellow-flowering plant increased sugar absorption in skeletal muscle and fat cells and reduced blood sugar levels in animals.

According to Dr. Gorelick, while many plants have traditionally been used to treat diabetes, only few have been successful as marketable medications. His research team is working on isolating the active ingredient in sharp varthemia so that it may be made into an accessible treatment for diabetes patients.

The Judea Research and Development Center, which is located on Moshav Carmel in the Hebron Hills regional council in the West Bank, focuses on stimulating industrial research and development of products, technologies, patents and inventions for commercial applications. It is sponsored academically by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

This is wonderful news for diabetics everywhere and I sincerely hope that Dr. Gorelick and his team are successful in their efforts. I also hope that the BDS bigots make sure to boycott this new treatment since it emanates from an area they would wish to see Judenrein.

Staying with the biomedical field, an Israeli researcher has made a breakthrough in combatting antibiotic resistance:

At its annual assembly in Geneva last week, the World Health Organization approved a radical and far-reaching plan to slow the rapid, extensive spread of antibiotic resistance around the world. The plan hopes to curb the rise caused by an unchecked use of antibiotics and lack of new antibiotics on the market.

Now Tel Aviv University research published in PNAS introduces a promising new tool: a two-pronged system to combat this dangerous situation. The system wipes out antibiotic resistance in selected bacteria, and renders other bacteria more sensitive to antibiotics. The research, led by Prof. Udi Qimron is based on bacterial viruses called “phages”, which transfer “edited” DNA into resistant bacteria to kill off resistant strains and make others more sensitive to antibiotics.

According to the researchers, the system, if ultimately applied to pathogens on hospital surfaces or medical personnel’s hands, could turn the tide on untreatable, often lethal bacterial infections.

“Since there are only a few pathogens in hospitals that cause most of the antibiotic-resistance infections, we wish to specifically design appropriate sensitization treatments for each one of them,” Prof. Qimron says. “We will have to choose suitable combinations of DNA-delivering phages that would deliver the DNA into pathogens, and the suitable combination of ‘killing’ phages that could select the re-sensitized pathogens.”

Kol hakavod to Prof. Udi Qimron and his research team on this great discovery. Let us hope that it will indeed prove successful, and save many thousands of lives which would otherwise succumb to drug-resistant antibiotics.

Map of Tel Aviv’s future subway/light rail system (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Moving now from the biomedical to the industrial field, Israel and China are giving each other a mutual helping hand in train technology:

Israel and China are helping each other out on moving railway passengers. In China, Israeli tech firm Radware is supplying China Railway with e-ticketing equipment, while that same company will be working with Israel’s Solel Boneh to build Tel Aviv’s Red Line train.

In recent months, China Railway began selling tickets online, a service that has become so popular that it overwhelmed the network. With close to a billion passengers a year, the railway sells millions of tickets a day – and to keep the network robust, the company chose a hardware and software solution from Radware.

Radware’s application delivery controller (ADC) provides virtualization, integrated application acceleration and on-demand scalability that allows the railway to quickly determine prices, capacity, and statistics on how many passengers are using the railway.

Meanwhile, China Railway’s Tunnel Group, along with Shikun Binui Solel Boneh Infrastructure group has won a a $750 million tender by Israel’s NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System to build the Red Line, the first in the planned subway network that will eventually crisscross the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

The Red Line will originate in Petah Tikvah [YAY!! – Ed.] and continue along Jabotinsky Street in Bnei Brak, and through Ramat Gan. The line will continue to the Arlozorov train station, run along Begin Street and near the Azrieli Center, from where it will continue on to the south of the Kirya, Manshiyya, Jerusalem Blvd. in Jaffa, and end in southern Bat Yam. In the future the line may be extended to Moshe Dayan interchange in Rishon Lezion.

It should be noted that the Red Line – along with seven other routes – have been in the planning stage for many years, with bureaucratic snafus and budget shortfalls delaying progress since at least 2000, when the current mass transit plan for Tel Aviv was first approved. The total cost for the Red Line is estimated at $3 billion.

I still insist the train will only arrive when the Messiah does, probably riding into town on that very train. 🙂  But I’m very happy that the train will originate in my hometown.

Once again, let the boycotters seethe and boycott to their hearts’ content. Meanwhile, an industrial giant like China has no compunction in doing business with us – and vice versa.

To conclude this week’s installment I’d like to bring some really fantastic good news. Do you remember Ayala Shapira, the 11 year old girl who was so critically injured in a firebombing attack in the Shomron? Well, this week she celebrated her Batmitzvah in a party which combined thanksgiving to G-d for his miracles, together with a party of celebration:

I’m happy to say that my granddaughter, who had originally planned to make a joint batmitzvah together with Ayala, was there at the party.

To mark this very important occasion, Ayala ascended to the Temple Mount with her family.

Ayala’s grandfather spoke about his granddaughter’s terrible experiences, and her strength of character in overcoming her injuries and coping with the treatment:

“I admire her courage from the first moment,” said the proud grandfather. “When they were hit she had the presence of mind to roll on the ground to put the fire out, and she was courageous enough to walk like 400, 500 yards to get help.”

He noted that burns inflicted by burning gasoline are the most severe, and that she is currently still undergoing a very long process of recovery. The attack left her suffering from severe burns to 40% of her face and upper body.

Ahead of the bat mitzvah ceremony, Ayala on Sunday ascended the Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism – to give thanks to G-d for her miraculous recovery.

Ayala’s parents Avner and Ruth spoke with reporters ahead of the ceremony on Thursday, with Ruth acknowledging, “I have to say that half a year ago we weren’t sure we’d reach this day.”

The joyful parents reported that their daughter’s situation improves from to day, and Avner explained, “there’s no drama now, there are no milestones like ‘the next surgery.’ Now it’s from day to day, one millimeter after the next.”

During the week Ayala undergoes rehabilitation at the hospital and only comes home for Shabbat, they said, but the week before the bat mitzvah she got a “vacation” and was able to stay home the entire week.

“She’s simply a heroic girl, she decided she wouldn’t close up but would rather go out and be in the world, and so she is out in the world,” said Ruth.

Avner noted on the support felt from the Jewish people throughout their daughter’s struggle, saying, “we were very aware that the entire people of Israel, both in Israel and abroad, prayed for Ayala…and took a real interest in her, sent her gifts.”

“So it’s a kind of celebration for everyone,” Ruth concluded.

The public is asked to continue praying for the full recovery of Ayala bat Rut.

Mazal tov Ayala! Mazal tov and harbeh nachat to the parents, Avner and Ruth, and to the entire Shapira family. May Ayala have a speedy and complete recovery and be able to return home, to school, and to the simple joys of childhood. I also wish continued strength to her family in these trying circumstances.

And now I also wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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8 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Brian Goldfarb says:

    “I also hope that the BDS bigots make sure to boycott this new treatment since it emanates from an area they would wish to see Judenrein.”

    Of course they won’t actually not take it themselves, that would put their health (or that of their loved ones) at risk. It’s everyone else who must refuse to use Israeli-originated life-saving medical breakthroughs.

    After all, how else could they continue to tell to tell the world how awful Israel is?

  2. Reality says:

    Mazal Tov Ayala.That is really wonderful news.Kol hakavod to her for ascending the Temple Mount.I cannot think of a more appropriate way to give thanks.
    As for the diabetes research,let those BDS bigots suffer from their own stupidity. What great news for diabetes sufferers.
    A train? Here in our home town? Wow At least it’s made in China ,not in Hong Kong!
    Shavuot tov

    • anneinpt says:

      I’ll still refuse to believe it until I see it. We’ve waited so long I can’t believe the train will actually start running in my lifetime.

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    The White City is going to have a subway system? Bring it on while we’ve still got the koach (that’s meant to be “strength” – english alliterative welcome!) to travel there. Actually, we find that TA is highly walkable, mainly because it’s essentially flat and, for the tourist, nothing is very far from anywhere else and the taxis are relatively efficient. Now all we need is that the railway line from Haifa to Karmiel gets completed, and our cup will overflow!

    BTW, are you able to provide an English language version of that intended subway map, Anne? Then we would know how easy it will be in a decade’s(?) time to travel around TA…and where to.

    • anneinpt says:

      The map shows the suburban stops, from Petach Tikva to Givatayim to Ramat Gan to TA on the red line; The green line from Holon/Rishon to TA; the pink line from Kfar Saba to Herzliya; the yellow line from Ramat Hasharon to Holon via Ramat Gan; the purple line from Yehud to TA; the blue line from Bilu Junction to Holon; and there’s a brown line that’s fallen off the map! (a metaphor for the whole thing).

      Some of the lines are working already. We have a suburban railway from PT to TA, though I don’t know if it’s the light rail of which they’re talking or another one. Also there’s a train from PT to Kfar Saba, and they all go to the Arlozorov train station in TA. From there one can change to the mainline intercity trains.

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