Heart surgery for Iraqi baby; Ramadan greetings; Smart coffee; and much more!
By Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Vaccine even protects the unvaccinated
Unvaccinated children of Covid-19 vaccinated parents are far less likely to contract the virus. Researchers at Israel’s Technion and health company Maccabi used data from 223 Israeli communities to show each 20% increase in parental vaccination halves the incidence of child infection.
How to control aging
Ben Gurion University scientist Dr Debra Toiber and her team have identified several genes involved in the aging process. Whereas SIRT6 helps repair DNA to promote healthy aging, other genes cause damage. Longevity can be extended, and damage reversed with targeted gene therapy and interventions.
The hunger switch
Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with UK colleagues, have found that melanocortin 4 (MC4) receptor is the master switch for hunger in the brain. It is normally “on” (“I feel full”) until energy levels drop. Its discovery can help develop anti-obesity medications.
Brain cancer treatment breakthrough
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered a potential treatment for the aggressive brain cancer Glioblastoma. Over-secretion of the protein P-Selectin (SELP) boosts tumor growth. Inhibiting SELP slowed growth and stopped cancer cells migrating to the brain.
The impact of the microbiome on cancer
Israel’s MyBiotics (see here previously) is to partner Hadasit – the technology transfer arm of Hadassah Medical Center, to identify gut microbiome-based cancer therapies. They will study up to 100 melanoma patients treated with PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies.
Breakthrough cancer treatment device
Israel’s IceCure already has US FDA approval for its cryogenic (freezing) treatment of cancer (reported here previously). The latest FDA Breakthrough Device designation, however, will speed up procedures regarding permits for IceCure’s Prosense device to treat cancer patients.
Home telemedicine system approved
Israel’s MyHomeDoc has received US FDA approval to add to its EU and Israeli certifications. The device has 4 embedded sensors to analyze and report lung, heart, and bowel sounds, otoscopy for the ear, oximeter for pulse rate and saturation, thermometer, throat and skin camera test.
Speech therapy for special needs
Israel’s Ampliospeech has developed a digital intervention platform for special education students. Originally addressing dyslexics, Amplio uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to improve the speech-language capabilities of all children with special needs.
Heart surgery for Iraqi baby
Volunteers at the Shevet Achim aid organization brought baby Hena from the minority Yazidis of Iraq, for life-saving heart treatment at Israel’s Sheba hospital. From a refugee camp in Iraq, Hena’s father said, “We are grateful to the State of Israel for helping us in these difficult circumstances.”
Muslims and Jews save disabled woman
When a disabled woman suffered a heart attack at a care facility, three EMTs from United Hatzalah’s Mevaseret region worked together to save her life. They included Murad Barhom – a Muslim Arab who has had a home in the Jewish Kibbutz of Kiryat Anavim for nearly 40 years.
World’s kindest kidney donors
Israeli charity Matnat Chaim (Gift of Life) has facilitated 1,003 live kidney transplants since 2009 from altruistic donors – people who are not related to their recipients. Israel has the highest per capita rate of people donating kidneys to strangers. (See also here for previous news.)
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israeli in IBM’s top women in AI list
For the first time, IBM’s annual World’s 40 leading women in artificial intelligence includes an Israeli. Hagit Tzafrir, head of the Health Division at Harel Group. Hagit’s project “Ella the Digital Assistant” provides digital customer service on Harel’s website and WhatsApp.
Starting up together – round 3
Israel-founded initiative Starting Up Together (reported here previously) is an online pre-accelerator program that trains entrepreneurs locally and across the Middle East region. Its Israeli track, for Arab and Jewish Israelis over 18, is now in its 3rd session. There are 60 participants in the two tracks.
Proud female Muslim Arab IDF officer
Captain Ella Waweya, from the Israeli Arab town of Qalansawe, is an officer in the IDF Spokesperson’s Office. She is proud to say, “The Israeli flag gives me a feeling of excitement, belonging and love.” In 2015 she won the President’s medal of Excellence (see here).
Israeli-Arab student discovers two asteroids
Aseel Namamade, a student at Israel’s Technion Institute, discovered two asteroids when attending the NASA-affiliated International Astronomical Search Collaboration. NASA has named them ANI1801 and ANI2001 after Aseel’s initials and Israel.
Israeli leaders sent out greetings for a “Ramadan Kareem” to the country’s Muslim citizens and others around the world on the first day of the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. This year it coincided with Yom HaZikaron, the Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims.
One million masks for LA kids
Israeli non-profit SmartAID is supplying one million children’s masks and 600,000 bottles of hand sanitizer in Los Angeles County. They are intended to protect children in disadvantaged areas from catching the coronavirus. SmartAID previously distributed masks in Washington state (see here).
The green pass – UK looks to Israel
UK newspaper article highlighting Israel’s strategy for opening-up the country post-Covid.
“We will never forget Israel’s help.”
As Japan marks the 10th anniversary of its devastating tsunami, Israel’s medical teams are praised as heroes for coming to the rescue. The IDF was the first foreign relief delegation to arrive – the only country that could bring its own equipment at such short notice.
Saving lives in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health has successfully trialed the EVA cervical cancer screening system from Israel’s MobileODT (see here previously) on 9,000 of its citizens. The program has now been expanded to cover another 50,000 women over the next six months.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
10 of top 100 AI companies are Israeli
CB Insights 2021 “AI 100: The Artificial Intelligence Startups Redefining Industries” includes 7 Israeli startups with Headquarters in Israel and 3 more with R&D in Israel.
Europe approves Israeli 20-sec Covid-19 test
The SpectraLIT developed by Israel’s Virusight Diagnostic (reported here Oct 2020) has now been given CE certification. It can now be implemented throughout Europe, especially at airports.
Truly green building material
Israel’s Kenaf Ventures has developed sustainable and eco-friendly raw materials for the construction industry from the kenaf plant. The plant absorbs carbon and pollutants as it grows. When harvested, its fibers and core are made into insulation products, plastic alternatives and more.
Support for grieving relatives
Israeli startup Empathy has launched an app to guide US families through the logistical and emotional complexities experienced with loss. It provides expert advice, real-time assistance, helps locate and store important paperwork and helps relatives navigate the traumatic process.
Low-carb food for diabetics
Israel’s EatSane is developing low-carbohydrate vegan food products without artificial sweeteners or preservatives. EatSane’s high-fiber bread is made from nut flour and contains just 2.6 grams of carbohydrate instead of the usual 15 grams. Available in Israel and in the United States.
Israeli-Colombian startup Demetria uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to select the perfect coffee beans. Demetria’s small, handheld spectrometer gadget measures bean size, weight, humidity and more. It then relays the information to a mobile app, saving time and money for coffee growers, traders, buyers and baristas.
Bringing podcasts to any app
Israel’s Audioburst (reported here Feb 2016) has now launched its Platform for Apps – marketed as the world’s first podcast feed for mobile apps. The service offers consumers personalized, up-to-the-minute audio content within their favorite apps, while providing recurring revenue for app developers.
Zoom competitor means business
Israel’s VidiPlus has released its video conferencing software for sales and marketing professionals. Its “in-person” features include 3-D visuals, branding, slideshows, web browsers, and videos that appear in real-time next to the presenter in the same frame for a full “show-and-tell” experience.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Investment breaks all records
Israeli tech companies raised $5.3 billion in the first three months of 2021 – half the total for the whole of 2020; $1.5 billion was just by cyber companies. Israeli startups raised $2.8 billion in March, double the previous monthly record. And on 7th April, $1 billion was raised on a single day!
Strategic accord with Morocco
Three Israeli trade organizations have signed an agreement worth hundreds of millions of dollars with the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises. It promotes trade and technology cooperation, including food, agriculture, vehicles, chemicals, equipment, renewable energy, water and health.
Opening soon for tourists
The prospects for the resumption of tourism to Israel are good. Non-Israeli family members can now visit first-degree relatives in Israel. Then on May 23rd, foreign tour groups will be admitted. And soon thereafter the skies should open to allow individual tourists to visit. Bookings are now flooding in.
Helping US small businesses survive
Israeli companies Tailor Brands and Melio have kept many US small businesses alive during the pandemic. Tailor Brands provides branding services online, and initially free, to 30 million customers. Melio (see here) provides a platform for transferring digital payments between businesses.
Vegan formula for US babies
Following its launch in Canada and India, the plant-based toddler formula from Israel’s Else Nutrition (reported here previously) is on its way to 30,000 retail stores across the USA. The kosher, organic, gluten & soy-free, FDA-approved formula is made from almonds, tapioca and buckwheat.
Applitools exits for $250 million
U.S.-based investment firm Thoma Bravo is acquiring Israeli-founded Applitools (see here) for a reported $250 million. Applitools provides software engineers with AI-based and cloud-powered solutions to help automate functional and visual testing for their apps.
Israel’s largest ever seed funding
Israel’s Talon Cyber Security has just raised $26 million in what is believed to be Israel’s largest ever initial funding of a startup. Talon says it is developing a first-of-its-kind technology that offers cyber protection from the unique threats emerging in today’s era of distributed work.
Investment in Israeli startups:
Trax raised $640 million; Memic raised $96 million; Capitolis raised $90 million; ClimaCell (now Tomorrow.io) raised $77 million; Zoomin Software raised $52 million; Augmedics raised $36 million; Fyllo raised $30 million; AmplioSpeech raised $27 million; Talon Cyber Security raised $26 million; Rivery raised $16 million; Empathy raised $13 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Museum of the Jewish People upgraded
Tel Aviv’s Museum of the Jewish People (formerly Diaspora Museum) has just completed a $100m makeover. Artifacts range from a 15th century Book of Esther to Leonard Cohen’s guitar, making the rebranded ANU (“We”) the world’s comprehensive Jewish museum.
Iranian artists at Haifa exhibition
The fourth Mediterranean Biennale in Haifa exhibited works by 60 artists and art collectives from 17 countries – including Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Bahrain. This year’s theme was “Living Together – Crossing Borders.”
HBO buys “On the Spectrum”
HBO has bought the adaptation and syndication rights to Israeli TV show “On the Spectrum” featuring the lives of adults on the autistic spectrum. It will air both dubbed and subbed. Amazon studios has also purchased the series, to remake an English language version (reported here previously).
Amazon studios partners Israeli director
Alma Har’el, the award-winning Israeli director behind Shia LaBeouf’s 2019 drama “Honey Boy,” has formed a new production company “Zusa”. She will work with Amazon Studios to develop and create a new TV series exclusively for Amazon Prime Video.
THE JEWISH STATE
Muslim driver decorates bus for Passover
Muslim bus driver Ihab transformed his number 77 Jerusalem bus into a “Passover bus” for his ultra-Orthodox passengers, with aluminum foil, flowers, and a miniature Seder table. One of the passengers even found the Afikoman, receiving dinner for two as a prize.
It’s all happening in Jerusalem
Recent Jerusalem rollercoaster activity included 24th Knesset swearing-in, Yom Ha’Atzmaut flyover rehearsals, Yom HaShoah, spring weather and busy parks and markets.
Survivor celebrates Bar Mitzvah 75 years late
Just before Israel marked Yom HaShoah, 87-year-old Holocaust survivor Nissim Semu held his Bar Mitzvah ceremony in front of his children, grandchildren and friends in the Israeli city of Yehud. His 13th birthday had been disrupted, as Israel fought for Independence.
Israelis celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Independence Day) with enthusiasm this year thanks to the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. Israel’s Air Force flew over Israeli cities in a “Salute” to all Israeli citizens. Fireworks, public events and private parties were held throughout the country. TY Jacob for hot sites.
Why I am a Zionist
Great new 5-minute video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Professor Gil Troy’s essay “Why I am a Zionist.” Each year on Israel’s Independence Day, we celebrate Zionism and the light and tremendous blessing that Israel shines on everyone.
Told you so!
A new video summarizing 10 miracles of Israel, foretold in the Bible. The ingathering; Barren to others; Blossoming with the return; Renewal of spoken Hebrew; Revival of Torah; Economic success; Flowing milk & honey; Rebuilding Jerusalem; Blessings to the world and Diplomatic recognition.