European award for stem cell investigator; Protecting endangered species; Saving water to save the planet; and much more!
by Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Extending lives of pancreatic cancer patients
In the latest Phase 2a trial of the pancreatic cancer treatment from Israel’s BioLineRx (see here) three-quarters of the patients at disease stage 4 were able to get their disease under control. The trial combined BL-8040, KEYTRUDA (Pembrolizumab) and chemotherapy.
Molecular checkups to avoid chemotherapy
A 10-year study of 1,365 Israelis indicates that chemotherapy can be avoided for most women who have early diagnosis and biopsy of the most common types of breast cancer. In 97.4% of those passing a Oncotype DX molecular checkup post-surgery, the cancer never returned.
Early diagnosis of thyroid cancer
Another molecular diagnostic test has been developed by doctors at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. It can early-diagnose thyroid cancer accurately from biopsies of small nodules that often develop on the thyroid. Previous alternatives were inaccurate or expensive.
Phase 3 progress for Universal Flu vaccine
Israel’s BiondVax has 12,400 participants from 83 hospitals in the Phase 3 double-blind placebo-controlled trials of its Universal Flu vaccine. If successful, the new vaccine could reach pharmacies in 2023. BiondVax’s new Jerusalem facility can produce 20-40 million doses per year.
European award for stem cell investigator
Assistant Professor Yaron Fuchs of Israel’s Technion Institute is one of 27 global scientists to receive a “Young Investigators” award from the European Molecular Biology Organization. Yaron harnesses stem cell apoptosis (cell death due to injury) for driving tissue regeneration.
New technology to help children breathe
Researchers from Israel and the US have developed technology to allow children suffering from bronchiolitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to breathe freely. Air pressure and acoustic pulses remove mucus from airways.
Exchanging kidneys to save loved ones
There have been some amazing stories (see here) of Israelis donating a kidney to a total stranger while a relative of that stranger donates a kidney to the Israeli’s relative. Thanks to an agreement with the Czech Republic, this recently led to a six-kidney transplant exchange.
Laser brain surgery saves Bethlehem Arab boy
11-year-old Gamal Allaham of Bethlehem suffered from a benign tumor in the hypothalamus that caused him severe seizures. Surgeons at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital used advanced laser brain surgery and an optic fiber to cure him and Gamal is now back at school.
School students save teacher with CPR
A pregnant teacher was “clinically dead” when she suffered cardiac arrest at her school in Beit Shemesh. Two students performed CPR and a medic arrived seconds later. Her brother had a similar event 4 years ago. See link to article about Hadassah hospital’s Cardio-Genetic clinic.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israeli Muslim Arab police chief speaks at UN
Newsletter readers can follow (see here) the career of Maj-Gen Jamal Hakoush. The Israeli Muslim Arab police commander recently highlighted the equality of Israel’s Arab citizens, at the World Conference against Discrimination and Racism at the United Nations in Geneva.
Producing dates together
An enlightening video of the Jordan Valley company producing the best Majhoul dates in the world. It features Palestinian Arabs working alongside Israeli Jews, cooperation with Jordanian farmers, innovative tech and water recycling. Note – please turn on English subtitles / captions.
Free holiday trees again
The Jerusalem Municipality announced the usual annual distribution of complimentary Christmas trees to Jerusalem residents celebrating Christmas. Its website states that trees are being distributed on Thursday morning, 19th Dec at the Jaffa Gate Plaza.
Protecting endangered species
This newsletter has preciously featured articles (see here) about Israeli efforts to conserve the rare griffin vulture. This year a record 24 vulture eggs were hatched and incubated as part of a special project called “Spreading Wings.”
Mossad helps Denmark prevent terror attacks
Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has been cited as being behind successful efforts with Denmark to bust a cell of 20 terrorists planning a series of attacks.
Promoting medical clowns in India
This article highlights the visit by Israel’s Nir Raz to promote the introduction of medical clown therapy to children’s wards at hospitals in India. Raz emphasized that in Israel, almost every hospital has a medical clown. The therapy strengthens children’s ability to fight diseases.
Battling measles in Samoa
A team of nurses, pediatricians and physiotherapists from Israel’s Sheba hospital, led by Dr. Itai Pessach – all with expertise in pediatrics and intensive care – have arrived in Samoa to help fight a measles outbreak that has killed 65 (mostly children) and infected over 4,400.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
EU opens Tel Aviv tech innovation hub
Hundreds attended the inauguration of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) new Tel Aviv office. It will serve as the European Union organization’s bridge between the two tech ecosystems and is only its 3rd hub, after Silicon Valley and Beijing.
Student-built satellite launched
Israeli micro-satellite Duchifat-3 was successfully launched from India’s Space Research Organization’s Sriharikota launch site. It was developed for ecological research imaging by high-school students at the Space Lab of the Herzliya Science Center and the Sha’ar HaNegev school.
NIS 22 million for alternate fuel projects
Israel’s Energy and Water Resources Ministry and the PM’s Office’s program for fuel alternatives and smart mobility, are investing NIS 22 million in new projects. They include City Transformer’s folding vehicle, a hydrogen gas station and a portable vehicle battery.
Israeli super-chips power new Cisco router
Cisco Systems has unveiled its new Cisco 8000 Series of carrier-class routers, built using Cisco Silicon One chips, developed at its Israel research and development center. Cisco forecast that the new routers will reduce internet bottlenecks and power future broadband online services.
New AI chips emulate the brain
As reported previously, (see here) (and here) Israel is the global leader for developing super-fast and Artificially Intelligent microprocessors. Now, researchers at Israel’s Technion Institute and Israeli chipmaker Towerjazz have integrated memory plus computing ability, to emulate the brain.
An engine with only one moving part
Israel’s Aquarius Engines has signed a deal with Honda Motor Corporation affiliate Musashi Seimitsu to co-develop its revolutionary linear engine (see here). The 10kg engine has just 20 components and one moving part It is efficient and inexpensive with low maintenance.
Save the bees and crops
Israel has developed many solutions to stop the decline in the global bee population, (see here) but are too late for some countries. So, Israel’s Edete Precision Technologies’ unique pollen-harvesting and mechanical pollination system could be just what the Californian almond industry needs.
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israeli-artificial-pollination-start-up-targets-California-almond-market-609829 https://www.edetepta.com/ Also see new Israeli startups Beewise, ToBe2, Bumblebee and BeeHero.
Saving water to save the planet
This article on Israeli water-tech startups includes the WFI group comprising four separate startups not featured previously in this newsletter. Toxsorb removes toxic chemicals; Triplet purifies using bacteria and oxygen; Rotec performs desalination and AST project manages solutions.
https://toxsorb.net/ https://triple-treatment.com/ https://rotec-water.com/ https://ast-water.com/
Israeli ethical food-tech
This CNN article reports that there are 350 food and agriculture technology companies in the Startup Nation. It features Aleph Farms, eggXYt and DouxMatok (all previously reported in this newsletter) and highlights that Israeli concerns for animal welfare derive from Jewish values.
A revolution in the whiskey industry
It had to happen. The Israeli startup Verstill has developed a unique molecular distillation process that hyper-ages whiskey in a fraction of the usual time for maturing. Verstill won the Fresh Start Foodtech Incubator Challenge in September.
A Swiss intern in hi-tech Israel
A personal account about one of the thousands of international students who have come to Israel to experience Israel’s hi-tech ecosystem. Benjamin applied through MASA’s Destination Israel program and joined Israeli startup City Transformer, producer of foldable electric cars.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
East Med Gas Forum is a game-changer
July saw the first meeting, in Cairo, of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, comprising Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, the Palestinian Authority and – yes – Israel. These two articles suggest that the EMGF is already transforming the geopolitics of the region.
Israeli VC speaks at Abu Dhabi conference
Israeli Venture Capitalist Jon Medved spoke at the SALT (SkyBridge ALTernatives) conference in Abu Dhabi. He is probably one of the first Israeli VCs to speak openly in an investor conference in the Gulf. See also the positive message from the Foreign Minister of the UAE.
Israel is financially stable
The latest Bank of Israel’s Financial Stability Report has just been published. Its summary: “The analysis of the environment in which the domestic financial system operates, and the periodic assessments of its resilience during the first half of the year, show that the system remained stable.”
On the right track
The long-awaited 57-kilometer electric train route connecting Jerusalem’s Yitzhak Navon station and Tel Aviv’s HaHaganah station has opened to the public. Travel time is around 33 minutes, including a stop at Ben Gurion airport. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/First-direct-trains-between-Jerusalem-and-Tel-Aviv-commence-operations-611698 http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/273335
Non-stop to Australia
Israeli airline El Al is to trial commercial flights from Tel Aviv to Melbourne Australia from April 2020. It will initially offer three flights each way, aimed to gauge interest in the potential of launching such a route permanently. Flight times are around 17 hours.
Jerusalem – the world’s fastest growing tourist destination
UK business intelligence company Euromonitor International shows Jerusalem as the world’s fastest growing destination. Its 3.93 million overseas tourists in 2018 was up 12% from 2017 and the projected 4.8 million visitors in 2019 is another huge increase.
More Israeli internships
This newsletter has included several articles recently (see here) about opportunities for young people from overseas to have an internship with an Israeli organization. You can download information on many more from the 1st linked site below. The 2nd link is just one example from the download.
Expanding crop analytics to Central America
Israel’s CropX (reported here previously) is partnering with FarmAgro of Costa Rica to bring CropX’s agri-tech solutions and tools to farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean. CropX’s FarmAgro helps analyze the impact of climatic variations and improve agriculture yields.
Israeli-founded used-car company raises $0.25 billion
US-based Vroom was founded by Israeli-born Elie Wurtman and Allon Bloch, Vroom develops an online direct-to-consumer platform that offers low-mileage reconditioned vehicles, with possible finance and insurance. Vroom has raised a total of $694 million in funds.
Israeli fund raises $115 million for medical startups
Israeli venture capital firm Peregrine Ventures Management Ltd. has raised a $115 million fourth fund. Peregrine has 45 med-tech, biotech, and life sciences companies in its portfolio and over $200 million under management.
Intel buys Habana Labs for $2 billion
Intel has acquired Tel Aviv-based artificial intelligence chip developer Habana Labs Ltd. for $2 billion. It is Intel’s second-largest acquisition of an Israeli company. Habana Labs develops processors optimized for artificial intelligence applications.
An intelligent acquisition
Israel-based software testing company Qualitest has bought Israel-based data analysis and machine learning company AlgoTrace. The companies have been working together for over a year. Qualitest says the purchase will enable it to rapidly increase the number of AI-based testing products it offers.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Re-using chickpea water in Tel Aviv
Aquafaba – the viscous liquid produced from boiling chickpeas, is often used as a vegan egg replacer. At award-winning Tel Aviv vegan restaurant Meshek Barzilay they use it to make sauces. mayonnaise, vinaigrette, lemon meringues, cakes, and as a thickener for stews.
Walk the new Old City ramparts
After years of work on the Walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Northern Ramparts Walk (Wall Promenade) is now open. The new section covers over half of the Old City to the west, north, and east. It gives a bird’s-eye view of the Christian and Muslim Quarters and Mount of Olives.
London in Tel Aviv
In 2017 London hosted a Tel Aviv festival. Now Tel Aviv has reciprocated. The 4-day LND in TLV fest (Nov 27-30) featured music from a Queen tribute band, literature based on Shakespeare, classical music, dance, British beer and of course fish & chips. Supporters included UK-based Virgin Atlantic.
Tel Aviv stew fest
The Hamin Festival will be held over the course of three weekends in January at Tel Aviv’s North Market. On Thursdays and Fridays, visitors can buy a wide variety of Sephardi (Oriental and Spanish & Portuguese) “hamin” and “tbit” stews and Ashkenazi (Eastern European) “cholent” stews.
No disposables on Eilat beaches
The city of Eilat is the first resort in Israel to ban disposable cups and bags from its beaches to protect the Red Sea from the “threat of plastic”. Beachgoers are forbidden from bringing disposable items onto the beach, whether made of plastic, aluminum, cardboard or paper.
Israel hosts its first chess world grand prix
The Jerusalem Grand Prix, part of the World Championship for chess, is taking place in Jerusalem (Dec 10 – 23). It is the first time that Israel has hosted the competition. The sixteen competitors include Israel’s Boris Gelfand. https://en.chessbase.com/post/grand-prix-in-jerusalem
Israel wins Admiral’s Cup sailing regatta
Israel lifted the cup in the 10th edition of Admiral Cup Sailing Regatta at the Indian Naval Academy in Kannur, India. Israel’s Itai Schroit won the individual men’s event with his countryman Ido Mazor finishing third.
THE JEWISH STATE
A group of 25 global ministers and parliamentarians came to support Israel as part of the annual Israel Allies Foundation Chairman’s Conference. They visited the Barkan Industrial Park where 8,000 Arabs and Jews work together, the Psagot Winery, Shiloh, Hebron and of course Jerusalem.
The Romans made fish sauce in Judea
The Israel Antiquities Authority has uncovered 2000-year-old vats in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, used by the Romans to produce a fish sauce. Historical sources refer to the production of special fish sauce, but few vats have been discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean.
First International Talmud competition
Strengthening Jewish identity one page at a time was the theme of the first-ever International Talmud Israeli Competition on December 15 at the Jerusalem Theater. Of the 1000 parent-child teams, 15 made the final including 3 from the US. An Israeli team won with 150 out of 150 points.
An anti-Israel professor posted on Facebook a call to boycott Trader Joe’s for selling Israeli Feta cheese. Thanks to an Israeli who publicized the post, pro-Israeli customers flocked to several of Trader Joe’s branches and bought up all the cheese and proceeded to purchase more Israeli products.
Western Wall Hanukiah is installed
The traditional bronze menorah (Hanukiah) has been set up in the Western Wall (Kotel) Plaza in preparation for the upcoming Chanukah festival. The 2-meter, 1-ton candelabra will be lit at a public ceremony on each day of the festival from the evening of Sun 22 Dec until Mon 30 Dec.
Two new parody songs to celebrate Chanukah – the Festival of Lights. Six13’s “Star Wars” and the Maccabeats “Pan Fry”. And the third video of the JD (Jewish Donut) is full of fun!
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