Good News Friday

It’s the shortest Friday in the year but there’s still time for a  Good News Friday post.  🙂

Starting with reason #237,689 for why I love my crazy little country. Two years ago an Israeli businessman who previously headed the Israeli plastics company Keter Plastics initiated a the pilot project for specially adapted wheelchairs for disabled children. Now his brilliant innovation “Wheelchairs of Hope“, providing freedom of movement to disabled children for an affordable price has reached fruition:

Millions of disabled people lack minimal mobility as the third world has a shortfall of 20 million chairs to serve them. Children aged five and older sometimes need to crawl to get around, or can’t attend school because of lack of accessibility.

$100 children's wheelchair from Wheelchairs of Hope

$100 children’s wheelchair from Wheelchairs of Hope

So Pablo Kaplan, who served for almost 30 years as the vice president of Marketing at Keter Plastic, an Israeli manufacturer of plastic household and garden products, decided to come to their aid and set up the Wheelchairs of Hope project. The aim was to produce wheelchairs for disabled children in Third World countries.

After he spent three years working on the project, the first shipment of 250 wheelchairs for children in institutions in Israel and the Palestinian Authority is to be sent this month, with a batch for residents of the refugee camps in Syria soon to follow. Distribution of the wheelchairs is being done through institutions including the Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem and Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana.

To develop the optimal chair that can withstand harsh conditions but at the same time be comfortable for children, Kaplan contacted his friend and colleague back from his days at Keter, Dr. Amir Ziv Av, now the owner of engineering company Ziv Av Engineering Group. Together they developed a lightweight chair — it weighs 10 kilograms (22 pounds) as opposed to the standard 15 kilograms — that can handle off-road conditions, requires zero maintenance and is robust and simple to assemble. More importantly, the chair costs just $100.

“We also took the child’s self esteem into our design,” said Kaplan. “It is a chair designed for children that looks more like a high chair and not like a medical device. It is not a wheelchair for adults adapted to children.”

In addition to the chairs distributed in Israel and the PA, over 600 wheelchairs are being delivered to disabled children in Peru and Tajikistan, funded by a philanthropic foundation and the World Health Organization. Other organizations globally are in advanced stages of negotiations for chairs.

The World Health Organization in Switzerland, the Red Cross and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) all joined hands in the project, including Nobel laureate Aaron Ciechanover, a personal friend of Kaplan, who promoted the chair worldwide.

Kaplan, who was joined in the venture by his life partner Chava Rotshtein, said their vision is to distribute one million chairs over the next decade and they aim to turn the project into a social business venture.

“Mobility empowers access to education and future independence,” he said. “That is our motto.”

A huge kol hakavod to Pablo Kaplan for conceiving the idea, and to Dr. Ziv Av and all the others involved in the design and distribution of these invaluable wheelchairs to children who are so desperate for anything to make their life easier. Tizku Lemitzvot!

Still in the biotech field, but at the other end of the age scale, a novel treatment developed by Israeli researchers appears to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease:

Now, Israeli scientists are focusing on the genes that could be responsible for the neurodegenerative disease, rather than on the plaque that clogs affected brains (one of the distinctive features of Alzheimer’s). After treating mice that had the “bad” Alzheimer’s gene, the rodents were able to identify Coke bottles and perform other cognitively sophisticated tasks!

Lab mice at work

Lab mice at work

The researchers devised an experimental approach to measure the “bad” features of APOE4, utilizing genetically manipulated mice expressing either good or bad forms of APOE. Mice with APOE4 exhibited impaired learning and memory, as well as damaged brain synapses, two pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

The TAU team then showed how mice, which prior to the “conversion” treatment exhibited disoriented behavior and seemed “lost,” were able following treatment to locate a submerged island in the middle of an artificial pond. Mice that had forgotten familiar objects — like Coca Cola bottles — suddenly exhibited sharp object recognition.

“APOE4 is a very important and understudied target,” Michaelson says. “It is expressed in more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients. Anti-APOE4 treatments are thus expected to have a major impact on the patient population.”

If only this treatment could be developed and marketed in double quick time! Having a close relative with Alzheimer’s, I can attest to the dreadful effects, not only on the patient, but on the family and carers. This new treatment gives us all hope for the future, if not for those already suffering. Kol hakavod to Prof. Daniel Michaelson and all the research team at Tel Aviv University.

Another jaw-dropping development in the field of biotech was the transplant of lab-grown bones into 11 jaws!

Israeli biotech company Bonus BioGroup is growing live bones from patients’ own fat cells. And today the company reported that it successfully injected its lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft into the jaws of 11 people in an early stage clinical trial evaluating bone loss repair.

The material, grown in a lab from each patient’s own fat cells, was injected into and filled the voids of the problematic bones. Over a few months it hardened and merged with the existing bone to complete the jaw, the company said.

The transplant “was 100% successful in all 11 patients,” Ora Burger, the VP of regulation affairs, told Reuters. “Now we are going to conduct a clinical study in the extremities, long bones.”

Watch this video on YouTube:

There is no need to explain the importance of this incredible development! Kol hakavod to Bonus BioGroup and all their researchers and developers. Israeli science is literally transforming the face of medicine!

From medicine let us move to the “Israel is not isolated” section.

According to reports, Israel and India have signed a huge $1.4 billion deal for India’s acquisition of Israeli radar systems and drones:

India signed a $1.4 billion contract with Israel Aerospace Industries earlier this month for the acquisition of two airborne early warning and control radar systems and ten unmanned aerial vehicles, Air&Cosmos International reported this week.

An Indian Air Force plane equipped with an IAI EL/W-2090 AEW&C system. Photo: Michael Sender via Wikimedia Commons.

An Indian Air Force plane equipped with an IAI EL/W-2090 AEW&C system. Photo: Michael Sender via Wikimedia Commons.

The deal was said to have been inked during Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s recent six-day visit to India.

… Furthermore, according to the report, the Indian military is set to receive ten armed Heron TP UAVs — worth a total of $400 million — within three years.

As reported by The Algemeiner in August, the Indian military plans to equip itself with an Israeli radar system that will enable Indian troops to detect terrorists hiding in dense forests. India intends to use the system along its disputed border with Pakistan in the Kashmir region.

Economic data shows that bilateral trade between Israel and India currently stands at around $5 billion annually — up from around $200 million a quarter of a century ago.

This is all very good news both on the diplomatic level and also from the security aspect. The whole world knows and appreciates Israel’s excellence in the defence and security fields, and India is a valuable and growing friend of Israel’s in Asia. May this new friendship continue to grow and flourish.

And to conclude, some good news for us Anglo-Israelis, or rather for Anglophile Israelis: The British Embassy in Israel has announced that Israelis are now eligible to sign up for expedited entry into the UK:

In a press release, the embassy said that Israelis will be eligible to sign up for the program from November 21. The service is designed for those who do business in the UK or visit it regularly, and will allow members an expedited entry into the country, after an advance security screening.

Israelis arrive at Heathrow

Israelis arrive at Heathrow

The service will be available at 10 British airports, as well at Eurostar terminals in Paris, Brussels, and Lille. Israelis registered for the program will be able to enter the UK using the UK/EU passport line, and will not have to fill out an entry form.

David Quarrey, the British ambassador to Israel, said in the press release that “this is great news for UK-Israel relations, and in particular for Israelis doing business in the UK. The new service will be a further boost to UK/Israel trade, which is already at record levels.”

“The UK is open for business, and the UK is open for Israelis,” he said.

Again, this is great news both on the practical level – anything that can make travel easier is hugely appreciated – and also on the diplomatic and political level. Let the boycotters eat that!

Edit: I don’t normally post appeals for donations, but Neil Turner pointed me to this very important appeal – The Temple Mount Sifting Project is holding its annual appeal to raise funds in order to continue their invaluable research and publish it. In their own words:

The story of the Temple Mount is the story of Jerusalem itself. A holy site to the three largest monotheistic religions, it is one of the most concentrated archaeological sites in the world. As you know, our finds here at The Temple Mount Sifting Project constitute the first-ever archaeological data originating from below the Temple Mount’s surface. Yet without being able to publish our research, it will be as if our 500,000 artifacts had never been found. Our research has the ability to challenge theories, clarify understandings, and present the factual data about the Temple Mount. We can undermine the Temple Denial Movement: but only if our facts and research are shared with the scientific community and the public.

Our mission is to publish at least 3 volumes of our research on the Temple Mount history, special finds, coins, and pottery in 2018. We want our scientific research to encourage educated discussion on the history of the Temple Mount.

Please visit their site and donate generously. Click this link.

And with this happy and hopeful news I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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5 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Reality says:

    What a wonderfully interesting blog. Those wheelchairs are so clever,and as for making artificial bones..fantastic!Regarding the treatment of alzheimers ,it can’t come quick enough.
    Thank you. Shavua Tov

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    And the UK Government has (finally!) adopted the Working Definition on Antisemitism. This is the one that started life as the European Union Monitoring Commission on Antisemitism’s working definition all these years ago. It’s taken us Brits an awfully long time to get round to this, especially given that the UK Police already use it, as does the US State Department (or at least a variant of it).

    On top of that, Joshua Bonehill-Payne (what a great name or a right-wing antisemite and fascist) has just had 2 years added to his existing sentence of 3 years for his vile antisemitic harassment of (and threats bodily harm to) the Jewish MP Lucians Berger. She was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s 10.00pm news programme on the issue of the definition earlier this evening.

    Further, this morning, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, proscribed the fascist organisation National Action because of its antisemitism, open and unabashed, and its calls for violence against Jews. Bone hill-Payne was at the very least a sympathiser of this appalling organisation.

  3. Earl says:

    A great deal of Good News (TM) here, annie. Thx. for the updates.

    /my IDF mate ships back to his base tonight night from Canada, and is looking forward to “doing his bit” for “that shitty little country” 😉

    /@ Goldfarb- as in America, might there be a shifting of British government attitudes towards the West’s only ally in the ME and, more generally, The Tribe? Enough of the the FCO’s innate Judenhass?

    • anneinpt says:

      Good to see you here Earl. I’ve missed you.

      Hope your IDF mate looks after himself. And keeps warm. It’s only 15°C here. He might get sunburn! 😀 (Actually we’re expecting snow in the Hermon. Flooding everywhere else).

      Answering for Brian, yes, I think the Brits are moving rightwards, as are most of Europe. The backlash was bound to come. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the FCO are getting over their Camel Corps mentality (think State Dept.) but with Theresa May at the helm I feel Britain is in a steady and safe pair of hands.

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