Arming white blood cells to fight cancer; Report on poverty in Israel shows decline in number of children living in poverty; Israel’s Transportation Ministry launches pilot in Eilat of “smart” air-conditioned bus stops; and much more!
By Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Arming white blood cells to fight cancer
Scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered that the white blood cells called Eosinophils secrete powerfully destructive proteins that can kill tumors. When activated by the protein IFN-gamma, they induced an even greater immunotherapy response and a new anti-cancer pathway.
New biomarker helps detect high risk of cancer
Researchers from Tel Aviv University and others have found that high levels of the protein ubiquilin-4 cause cells to become prone to genome instability and more likely to develop into tumors. Once discovered, these cells can be treated with other forms of cancer therapy.
Successful trials of treatment for severe burns
I reported previously (see here) on the innovative NexoBrid treatment for severe burns from Israel’s MediWound. MediWound has just announced positive top line results of its pivotal U.S. Phase 3 clinical study. Dead skin was completely removed from 93% of trial patients.
US approval for groundbreaking inhaler
The US FDA has approved the ProAir Digihaler made by Israel’s Teva. It is the first and only digital inhaler with built-in sensors that connects to a companion mobile app and provides relevant information to people with asthma and COPD.
The neurons that recognize a face
Researchers at Israel’s Bar Ilan University and in Paris have identified neurons in the human visual cortex that can selectively respond to faces. The discovery came while studying an epileptic patient that had micro-electrodes implanted in the vicinity of the Fusiform Face Area.
Breakthrough cancer treatment available to Israelis
The Israeli-developed CAR-T cancer treatment is one of NIS 460 million worth of new treatments added to Israel’s 2019 Health Basket. CAR-T has over 80% success rate, even in terminal cases. The new treatments will benefit an estimated 70,000 Israelis.
Record number of organ donations
Israeli doctors performed a record 592 organ transplants in 2018 – 13% more than in 2017. 258 were from live donors – mostly kidneys, including 106 from non-relatives for altruistic reasons. Dvora Ben Dror, who founded the Adi organ donation card system, passed away recently, aged 93.
Better ICU patient monitoring
Israel’s RenalSense is conducting a study using its Clarity RMS critical care renal monitoring system at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The first study stage with 200 patients is complete. Now data will be collected and analyzed from an additional 2000 patients.
Personal sleep coaching
Israel’s SleepRate uses off-the-shelf sensors such as fitness belts and smartwatches to track sleep patterns and detect sleep problems, offering users personalized coaching for improved sleep. It is partnering with Dutch multinational Philips who will integrate SleepRate into its Better Sleep mobile app.
Israeli schools bring on the clowns
The therapeutic benefits of medical clowns in Israeli hospitals (see here) is undisputed. Last year, Israel’s Education Ministry sanctioned an Educational Clown pilot at three Israeli high schools. It was so successful that this year the project has expanded to six high schools and one primary school.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israel’s National Insurance Institute (NII) report on poverty in Israel in 2017 states that the number of children living in poverty declined by 23,700 – the first decrease in many years. The incidence of poverty among haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) and Arabs also fell.
Integrating Haredim into hi-tech
Bizmax is a relatively new business center for ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem residents. Its shared workspace supports 100 Haredi yeshiva students wanting to become entrepreneurs in Israel’s hi-tech industry. Bizmax partners with Achim Global – a similar but larger organization in Bnei Brak.
Karting rally for disabled kids
14 paraplegic Israeli children enjoyed participating in Israel’s first ever para-rally. The kids had the unique thrill of racing in their own electric go-karts, custom-built for each child by teams of adult volunteers. Karting Israel in Beit Berl donated their track and other business donated food for the event.
An Arab-Israeli female Muslim bus driver
Padila Sohila from the Arab town of Tira has driven buses for seven years. Passengers and fellow drivers are most respectful to her. Her aunt was the first woman in Tila to own and drive a car. Now, most Muslim women in Tira can drive, work and choose whom to marry.
Saved from flooding
A woman from the Israeli-Arab town of Kfar Kana in the Galilee expressed her gratitude to the Israeli police who helped during the recent floods that devastated her community.
Helping Palestinian Arabs get to Mecca
Israel helps thousands of Moslem Palestinian Arab pilgrims travel to Mecca for the winter Hajj. Allenby Bridge crossing times from Israel into Jordan are extended. Extra Arab-speaking IDF personnel ensure the pilgrims enjoy a quick and safe crossing on the way to Islam’s holiest city.
Israeli doctor saved Abbas
The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, 83, was hospitalized twice in May 2018 with chest pains, an ear infection requiring surgery and pneumonia. He accepted help from an Israeli specialist who travelled to Ramallah. His condition then improved considerably.
Diplomatic ties restored with Chad
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a historic visit to Chad where he and Chad’s President Idriss Deby announced the renewal of diplomatic relations. His return flight was one hour shorter than the outbound leg, as Sudan allowed his plane to use its airspace.
Rescued by the Israeli navy
French sailor Jean-François Colas was lost in the Mediterranean for weeks. The Israeli navy rescued him and his boat drifting with no steering system and a broken radio. He had suffered a leg injury and was almost out of food and water. He laughed with relief, “There might be a god for me up there.”
Joint exercise with RAF
The Israeli Air Force will participate in a joint exercise with the UK Royal Air Force in Britain for the first time in September during the RAF’s annual Cobra Warrior exercise. Cooperation between the two air forces is high and new RAF pilots use an Israeli-developed flight training system.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Air-conditioned bus stops
Israel’s Transportation Ministry is to launch a pilot in Eilat of “smart” air-conditioned bus stops. The enclosed modules will have automatic doors, interactive controls, touch screens and real-time schedules – all accessible to passengers with disabilities.
The world’s fifth most innovative nation
Israel is ranked 5th among the world’s most innovative economies, according to Bloomberg’s 2019 Innovation Index. The Startup Nation jumped five places thanks to increased patent activity and its high level of R&D professionals. Israel beat Singapore, Sweden, the US and Japan.
Swimming pool device to prevent drowning
Israel’s Coral Drowning Detection Systems have developed the Coral Manta system. It uses an underwater video camera, computer vision and artificial intelligence to identify a potential drowning situation. It then sounds an ear-piercing alarm and sends an alert to relevant smartphones.
Drones for Brazilian agriculture
Brazil’s Santos Lab is to use drones (UAVs) and advanced analytics from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for large scale agricultural applications. IAI’s BirdEye 650D UAV includes a hyper-spectral wide coverage imager, uniquely developed for the precision agriculture market.
Teaching cars to learn
I reported previously (see here) on the Artificial Intelligent image analysis system from Israel’s Cortica. Japanese semiconductor company Renesas Electronics is partnering with Cortica and will embed its computer learning technology into Renesas’ new system-on-chip for the automotive industry.
See clearly through the fog
80% of automobile accidents occur at night, or in adverse weather conditions such as fog, haze and dust storms. Israel’s TriEye Technologies is developing a high-resolution shortwave infra-red (SWIR) camera that will help vehicle drivers see perfectly, even in low-visibility situations.
Never forget a face
I reported previously (Jan 2016) when Israel’s OrCam launched MyEye – a device for the visually impaired that recognizes faces and translates speech to text. Now, the OrCam MyMe wearable camera identifies people you meet and links to a work-balance app on your smartphone or smart watch.
DIY 3D scanning
Israel’s EyeCue Vision Technologies has solved the problem of how to generate 3D content. EyeCue’s app scans real life objects placed on a paper mat printed directly from the app. It then takes multiple pictures and uses an Alternate Reality dome to create a 3D model for use in almost unlimited applications.
Feel the music
Israeli startup Woojer has developed a vest incorporating “haptic” technology. It gives the wearer physical sensations, converting musical sounds or Virtual Reality actions into vibrations transmitted via the vest. For a unique multisensory experience, it probably beats everything you can imagine!
Energy from Radio waves
Israeli startup Wiliot has developed a Bluetooth-enabled sensor that harvests energy from radio waves. It provides power to internet-of-things (IoT) devices, without the need of batteries or mains (wired) electricity. https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3754182,00.html
Whatever the weather
Israeli-founded startup ClimaCell develops a highly accurate weather forecasting system, capable of predicting the weather on a minute-by-minute basis. It uses data from weather databases as well as from wireless networks, internet-of-things (IoT) devices, and cellular networks.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Record investment details
The 2018 record $6.4 billion investment in Israeli hi-tech companies included $1.89 billion for Artificial Intelligence, $1.2 billion into Life Sciences and $1.08 billion into Cybersecurity. Significantly, the fourth quarter was the strongest with $1.82 billion investments in Israeli-linked companies.
UK’s first post-Brexit free trade deal is with Israel
Britain’s International Development Secretary Liam Fox announced in Davos that a trade deal has been agreed in principle with Israel’s Economy Minister Eli Cohen. Israel’s UK Ambassador Mark Regev tweeted “excellent news for the rapidly-growing UK-Israel partnership”.
Israel is an Innovation Champion
Israel has been named as one of 16 global “innovation champions” by leading American trade organization Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The CTA rankings evaluate countries based on 14 categories, including freedom, broadband, entrepreneurship and resiliency.
Ramon International Airport opens
On 21 Jan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed on the inaugural flight to open the new Ramon International Airport 10 miles north of Eilat in southern Israel. Ramon is set to handle 2 million passengers a year in 2020, rising to 4.2 million by 2030.
Free trade agreement with Ukraine
Visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed as “historic” the signing of a free trade agreement with Israel. The 1500-page agreement will reduce the prices of Ukrainian goods in Israel and vice-versa, plus allowing companies from Ukraine and Israel wider access to markets.
Millions for Israeli startups
Israeli digital health fund aMoon II has raised $600 million to invest, mostly into mid-to-late-stage Israeli companies in the health and medical technologies field. Meanwhile, Israeli venture capital firm Magenta Venture Partners has launched a new $100 million fund destined for early-stage startups.
UK 5G accelerator for Israeli startups
At Tel Aviv’s Cybertech Conference (28-30 Jan) a delegation from the UK’s Midlands Cyber will showcase “Cyber Valley,” the leading cyber hotspot in the UK. Israeli startups will be invited to join its BetaDen accelerator for developing and trialing applications on the new 5G network.
Business simulation winner
Meir Cohen, an MBA candidate at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, won the Capsim Challenge (Capstone league) competition to find who can best run a multi-million dollar simulated company. Bar Ilan is the first college in Israel to incorporate advanced simulation in its studies.
Three new Israeli routes for RyanAir
Irish low-cost airline RyanAir launches three new routes from Tel Aviv this summer – to Athens, Bucharest and Sofia. RyanAir Tel Aviv will have 12 routes to Tel Aviv, plus another 15 to Eilat. CEO Michael O’Leary plans to bring millions more tourists to Israel.
Managing US electric grid
I reported previously (Jul 2015)that Israel’s mPrest was adapting its Iron Dome technology to detect problems at US power plants. Now mPrest is implementing that technology and has partnered with top US energy utility Southern Company to enhance its systems.
Security for Spanish port
Israel’s Magal Security Systems has won a $2.5 million contract to deliver technology and services to the Port of Huelva in Spain. It includes anti-climb smart fences, plus day/night and thermal cameras using dual thermal and CCD technologies.
More exposure for bio-degradable plastic
Israel’s TIPA environmentally-friendly packaging is on display at London’s Future Fabrics expo (Jan 24), Berlin’s Fruit Logistica (Feb 6) and Nuremberg’s BIOFACH organic trade show (Feb 13). https://tipa-corp.com/events/
Yofix wins top Pepsico award
I reported previously (21st May) on Israel’s Yofix and its vegan, dairy-free, soy-free yoghurts made from seeds and fruit with no added sugar, preservatives or color. Yofix has just won the top Euro 100,000 prize in Pepsico’s European Nutrition Greenhouse startup program.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Artistic gifts to world leaders
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has initiated the project “Israeli Hope” where students at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design create unique works of art to be gifted to world leaders during presidential visits. President Rivlin gave their first gift to Pope Francis on visiting the Vatican.
A century of Bauhaus
100 years since the establishment of Germany’s Bauhaus architecture design school, 4,000 iconic Bauhaus buildings are still prominent in Tel Aviv – giving it the name the “White City”. The buildings were designed by Jewish architects who fled Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933.
Explore Shoham Forest
Shoham Forest in central Israel’s Modi’in Region offers multiple recreational areas, seasonal flowers currently in full bloom, and many trails that are accessible to the whole family. There’s also an engaging archeological site where you can learn about communities that existed in the area in ancient times.
Good News from the Good Land
The weekly program “Israel on my mind” on Israel News Talk Radio showcases “good news” stories from Israel, awesome Israeli Technical inventions, and other stories of interest for Israel supporters. VeryGoodNewsIsrael readers should enjoy this program. Listen to 17th Jan edition here.
Lechayim to easyJet
On my last trip to the UK I was amused to read that the easyJet Traveller magazine had chosen an Israeli drink as their “Best cocktail in disguise”. The “Bellboy’s Bathtub” is a citrussy drink served in a miniature bathtub topped with edible foam and an (inedible) rubber duck. The Bellboy Bar is in Tel Aviv.
Israeli chess prodigy to compete in Tunisia
Following pressure from the World Chess Federation FIDE, Tunisia’s Chess Federation agreed (in Aug) to allow 7-year-old Israeli Liel Levitan to participate in the World School Individual Championships in April.2019. Liel won the 2018 European Chess Championships.
THE JEWISH STATE
Home of the Ark of the Covenant
Remains of a massive 8th century BCE podium has been unearthed on a Judean hilltop. The site has long been associated with Kiriath-Jearim, where the biblical Ark of the Covenant rested for 20 years until taken by King David to Jerusalem (Samuel 1, chapter 7 and Chronicles chapter 13).
More discoveries after the rain
Recent heavy rains have revealed two beautiful clay figurines of horses in northern Israel. The first, from the time of the Kingdom of Israel (about 800 BCE), was found near Kfar Ruppin in the Beit Shean Valley. The other dates to the Hellenistic period (around 200 BCE) was found near Tel Akko.
Israeli lottery winners
A couple who made Aliya from France ten years ago have “hit the jackpot”, winning NIS 30 million ($8.1 million) in Israel’s first lottery of 2019. The religious couple kept their secret from the guests they entertained over Shabbat. After giving to charity, they intend to buy apartments for their children.
The seeds that you plant
Over a million Israelis participated in planting trees during the festival of Tu Bishvat. No wonder that the Land of Israel was one of the few countries to start the 21st century with more trees than it had 100 years earlier. Also (TY Sharon) Tu Bishvat as experienced in Jerusalem.
Knesset celebrates 70 years
Tu Bishvat is also the anniversary of the foundation in 1949 of Israel’s parliament – the Knesset. Some 2,000 children and other guests participated in a variety of events including the creation of flowers from recycled materials. Tu Bishvat is celebrated today as an ecological awareness day.
CLICK HERE FOR LAST WEEK’S GOOD NEWS ISRAEL ARCHIVE.