Heavy smokers cut down or quit after magnetic brain stimulation, study finds.


Heavy smokers who regularly puffed more than a packet of cigarettes a day cut down or quit for six months after their brains were stimulated with magnets, researchers say.

The apparent success of the simple procedure has led the scientists to organise a large-scale trial which will launch early next year at 15 medical centres worldwide.

Smokers in the pilot study had already tried anti-smoking drugs, nicotine gum and patches or psychotherapy to no avail, raising hopes that magnetic stimulation might offer an effective alternative for those who want to give up but have so far failed.

Nearly half of the smokers in one group, who received high-frequency magnetic pulses, quit after a three-week course of stimulation, with more than a third still abstaining six months on.

“This is a new approach to the problem,” said neuroscientist Abraham Zangen of Ben-Gurion University in Israel. “These are heavy smokers who could not stop smoking before.”

More trials will be needed to prove the value of the procedure, which scientists say should only be offered within a psychotherapy-based programme designed specifically for smokers.

For the pilot study, Zangen recruited 115 people aged 21-70 who smoked at least 20 a day. Only those who had tried to give up before using at least two methods were allowed to take part in the programme.

The smokers were divided into three groups. The first had 15 minutes of high-frequency magnetic stimulation every weekday for two weeks, followed by three sessions in the third week.

The second group had the same number of sessions of low-frequency magnetic stimulation. The third group thought they were having their brains stimulated, but the device was actually turned off to provide a control group.

Before each session, one of Zangen’s PhD students lit a cigarette and took a puff in front of half of the smokers in each group. This was designed to awaken their cravings for a smoke, and hopefully make them more susceptible to the treatment.

Zangen targeted brain regions called the prefrontal cortex and insula with a technique called deep repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS. Throughout the study, he asked the smokers to record how much they smoked up until six months later.

The results showed a placebo effect, or an improvement without any proper intervention, in the control group, and also in the smokers who received low frequency stimulation. In both of these groups, the smokers cut down on average from 26 to 20 cigarettes a day.

But the results were more impressive in the smokers who had high-frequency brain stimulation after witnessing one of the scientists have a drag on a cigarette: 44% quit after the three-week course and six months later, 36% said they were still not smoking.

To check that the smokers were telling the truth, Zangen tested their urine for a breakdown product of nicotine called cotinine. The results were in line with the smokers’ claims.

Though the findings are promising, the study was too small to be convincing. Zangen said a much larger trial, involving medical centres in several countries, was due to start in the next few months to test the stimulation on far more smokers.

More than a third of those treated with high frequency magnetic pulses stopped smoking for at least six months, researchers say.

If the procedure turns out to be effective, smokers might not need to have their brains stimulated regularly to avoid relapsing, he said.

“It’s quite easy to quit for a few days, or even for a few weeks, but if we can help people quit for more than three months, then they are actually quite unlikely to relapse later on,” he said.

A man smoking a cigarette

Peter Eichhammer, who has studied brain stimulation at the University of Regensburg, said that while the procedure might be effective, it was important for smokers to receive treatment in a dedicated psychotherapy-based programme.

“rTMS may help people to reduce smoking, most likely by mimicking nicotine’s actions on the brain reward system,” he said. “But it does not substitute a special psychological therapy. In general, I would be very cautious to promote rTMS as a sole biologically-driven therapeutical strategy.

“rTMS may be helpful but should be embedded in a psychological therapeutical program. Moreover, we need replication from a variety of clinical studies which really treat people with this addiction,” he said.

Does Breastfeeding Help Prevent ADHD?


ADHD is thought to be hereditary; that means that it is passed from parent to child through genes. It would seem, therefore, that there wouldn’t be any way to prevent or reduce the chances that your child may develop ADHD. However, some studies show that breastfeeding may help prevent ADHD.

Breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition for babies – containing vitamins, protein and fat. It is more easily digested and contains antibodies to help fight viruses and infection. Children who are breastfed are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. They have fewer ear infections and respiratory illnesses than those fed with formula. It may lower the risk of diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer. It has also been linked to higher IQs.

In 2005, a study completed in Poland compared children between the ages of 4 and 11 years old with ADHD to children without ADHD.  Researchers found that children with ADHD were breastfed for shorter durations that those without ADHD. The study concluded “The short duration of breastfeeding as environmental factor may be considered a risk factor of ADHD symptoms.” [1] The scientists noted that further research was needed, however, to form firm conclusions about any link between not breastfeeding, or breastfeeding for shorter amounts of time, and ADHD.

This year (2013), two more studies were conducted:

  • A study completed in Israel compared three different groups of children: 56 children with ADHD, 52 siblings without ADHD and 51 non-related children without ADHD. At three months, only 43 percent of the children with ADHD were breastfed. The other two groups were much higher: 69 percent for the siblings and 73 percent for the non-related group. At six months old, only 29 percent of those with ADHD were still being breast fed, while 50 percent of the siblings and 57 percent of the non-related children were still being breastfed.
  • A second study, completed at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York found similar results. There study compared 54 preschoolers with ADHD to 54 preschoolers without ADHD. Researchers found that over one-half of children with ADHD were breastfed for one month or less while only one-fourth of the control group was breastfed for that short of a time. More than twice as many children without ADHD were breastfed for more than six months; 46 percent of non-ADHD children compared to only 22 percent of those with ADHD.

What the Studies Say

 Without a doubt, all the studies showed that on average, children with ADHD were breastfed for shorter durations that those without ADHD. Scientists just aren’t sure what this means yet. Is it possible that breast milk has some properties that protect children against developing ADHD?

Dr. Andrew Adesman, the lead author of the study completed in New York, speculates that it may be the fatty acids in breast milk that help prevent ADHD. Other studies have shown that using omega 3 fatty acids have helped to reduce some symptoms of ADHD. It is possible then, that children receiving fatty acids from birth on, through breast milk, are given some type of ability to fend off ADHD symptoms.

Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine and Primary Ovarian Failure: Another Facet of the Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants..


Source

Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel; Rheumatology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Specialities, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

PROBLEM:

Post-vaccination autoimmune phenomena are a major facet of the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) and different vaccines, including HPV, have been identified as possible causes.

METHOD OF STUDY:

The medical history of three young women who presented with secondary amenorrhea following HPV vaccination was collected. Data regarding type of vaccine, number of vaccination, personal, clinical and serological features, as well as response to treatments were analyzed.

RESULTS:

All three patients developed secondary amenorrhea following HPV vaccinations, which did not resolve upon treatment with hormone replacement therapies. In all three cases sexual development was normal and genetic screen revealed no pertinent abnormalities (i.e., Turner’s syndrome, Fragile X test were all negative). Serological evaluations showed low levels of estradiol and increased FSH and LH and in two cases, specific auto-antibodies were detected (antiovarian and anti thyroid), suggesting that the HPV vaccine triggered an autoimmune response. Pelvic ultrasound did not reveal any abnormalities in any of the three cases. All three patients experienced a range of common non-specific post-vaccine symptoms including nausea, headache, sleep disturbances, arthralgia and a range of cognitive and psychiatric disturbances. According to these clinical features, a diagnosis of primary ovarian failure (POF) was determined which also fulfilled the required criteria for the ASIA syndrome.

CONCLUSION:

We documented here the evidence of the potential of the HPV vaccine to trigger a life-disabling autoimmune condition. The increasing number of similar reports of post HPV vaccine-linked autoimmunity and the uncertainty of long-term clinical benefits of HPV vaccination are a matter of public health that warrants further rigorous inquiry.

Source: Pubmed

 

Israeli Teenager Wins Gold Medal in Computer Science Olympics.


Israeli teenagers took home medals, including the gold, from a prestigious computer science competition held this year in Australia.

Israeli teenagers participating in the International Olympiad in Informatics, a yearly computer science competition, took home multiple medals from this years event held in Australia. Daniel Hadas, age 18, from Ayalon High School in Holon won the gold medal. Tom Kalvaria, 17, of Kfar Hayarok High School in Ramat Hasharon and Ohad Klein, 17, from Amit Yeshiva in Kfar Ganim won silver medals, and Ron Ryvchin, 18, from the Samaria ORT School in Binyamina, won a bronze medal.

daniel-hadas

According to its official website, the International Olympiad in Informatics “is one of the most recognized computer science competitions in the world. The contestants have to show basic IT skills as problem analysis, design of algorithms and data structures, programming and testing. The winners of the IOI belong to the best young computer scientists in the world.”

Education Minister Shai Piron congratulated the young Israelis, emphasizing, “This is an impressive and exciting accomplishment; this is a great proof of the skills among Israeli youth. I have no doubt that with our talent in science; the state of Israel will continue to lead the world in quality of scientific research, entrepreneurship and innovation.” Ofer Rimon, head of science and technology in the Ministry of Education, claimed that Israel in recent times has placed great emphasis on training youngsters to excel in the field of computer science and to have the necessary skills to thrive in this competition.

According to Rimon, in the International Olympiad in Informatics, “The students are presented with problems in the field and are asked to find a solution. They are measured based on the method of thinking they present, the manner in which they build the solution and reach it, and all this within a limited time frame. In this situation, one of the difficulties is working under time pressure. We must understand that the larger the country, the more it has a comparative advantage. For small countries it is very difficult to succeed and the fact that Israel ranks among the first ten countries is a very serious achievement.” Israel ranks eighth place in this international competition that had 80 participating countries, with the top three countries being China, Russia and South Korea.

Speaking upon his victory, gold medalist Hadas said: “It’s a great feeling. I can’t say I expected a gold medal. I was lucky and am very happy with the achievement.” His silver medal winning teammate Kalvaria added, “We worked very hard in preparing for this competition. On the first day it seemed for a moment that we would not succeed, but on the second day we took ourselves in hand, we struggled and managed to get to a very respectable place.”

ioi2013banner

Source: unitedwithisrael.org

Refaeinu’: Helping Israeli Cancer Patients and Kids.


An Israeli organization, Refaeinu, works to make the best medical care possible for critically ill patients and offers summer camps to cheer up children with cancer and their families.

Israeli-organization-helping-disabled-children-300x197

Many critically ill patients within Israel face numerous difficulties. They are deeply concerned about their health, but are unsure who to turn to in order to treat their condition, especially if their treatment is very costly and not fully covered under their health plan. “Many cancer-stricken people, including children, cannot receive the proper medications to treat and perhaps cure their disease because the country’s ‘health basket’ doesn’t include it,” says Rabbi Chaim Shapira, founder of Refaeinu.

Rabbi Shapira when asked, “What does this mean?”, explained: “It means that even if the cancer-stricken patient belongs to an HMO, they still might not be able to receive the newest and most potent form of medicine to treat their illness because the Israeli government might deem the medication too expensive and refuse to pay the costs of the treatment. People become so desperate that they’ll do almost anything to buy these medicines, including selling their homes, cars and furniture. We want to fight through this bureaucracy by creating a fund that will be used to underwrite the costs of such expensive medications that are not covered.”

This is where Refaeinu steps in to help. According to Shapira, “Many people don’t know where to go in these cases, as they seek both the best doctor available to treat their illness, as well as financial advice on how to pay the bill. This is exactly why Refaeinu exists.” Shapira, along with Refaeinu’s manager, Reuven Basseches, works with each individual or family to gather all of the information that they need in order to find the best doctors available for as affordable a price as possible. “Once I have an understanding of what I’m dealing with, then I’ll contact the best available doctor in his/her field of expertise and refer the patient for immediate treatment,” Shapira explained.

Refaeinu has hundreds of volunteers working across Israel to help critically ill patients, by either donating blood, delivering food to needy families, or driving patients to a nearby hospital when needed. “Some of our volunteers literally sit for hours with sick people at hospitals in Nahariyya, Tiberias and Safed because there was no one else around to help them,” Shapira stated. “There are also many people who don’t have access to proper transportation when they need to purchase medications. We want to provide them with a service that will take the worry out of their lives.”

However, Refaeinu doesn’t only help the critically ill. They help children who are suffering from shock and other emotional traumas as a result of rocket bombardments. The staff includes child psychologists, who create programs which will allow the youngsters to forget about the past and focus on fun activities. Additionally, Refaeinu has set up a fund to help young couples faced with fertility problems to be able to have children of their own.

SUMMER CAMPS FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER

While anyone who is stricken with malignant diseases suffers significantly, the fate of children with cancer is especially tragic. As a child sits in his or her hospital bed for months on end, his or her emotions alternate between hope, despair, confusion, and fear. They are deeply worried about what the future has in store. Each round of chemotherapy is painful and often causes the patient to suffer deep depression. Under such circumstances, it is critical to do what it takes to help these kids smile, even if for a brief period of time, providing them with renewed strength to continue their fight for life and recovery, and ultimately succeed in most cases.

During Refaeinu’s summer camp program, children with cancer are able to forget their difficult illness while having fun with their brothers, sisters, parents and members of their extended family. While in these summer camps, the child cancer patients and their families are able to enjoy a festive atmosphere full of music, dancing, parachuting, and beach activities surrounded by lush vegetation and the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.

The main goal is to keep the children so busy with fun, fascinating programs that they do not have the time to think about their illness or pain. While such camps are costly, especially when close to 300 participants are involved, Rabbi Shapira emphasized that “the very moment it brings a smile to the face of a tormented child, it is worth every dollar.”

Source: http://unitedwithisrael.org

EU Confirms Ban on Marketing of Animal Tested Cosmetics and Ingredients.


 

The European Union has confirmed that—taking effect March 11, 2013—the marketing, import, and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients will no longer be legal in the EU. Congratulations to Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., PCRM’s director of regulatory testing issues, and Aryenish Birdie, PCRM’s regulatory testing policy coordinator, who have spent years rallying support for the ban that will save the lives of countless rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats who suffer and die each year for cosmetics testing.

Last year, PCRM delivered nearly 25,000 letters from EU residents and people around the world to the European Commission. The letters called on the EC to maintain its 2013 deadline for a ban on the marketing of cosmetic products tested on animals. PCRM supporters Alicia Silverstone and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer also wrote letters calling for the ban.

This ban follows Israel’s Jan. 1 ban that no longer allows the import and marketing of cosmetics, toiletries, or detergents that were tested on animals.

But we’re not resting until the United States joins the EU and Israel. We’re talking with U.S. lawmakers and working cosmetics manufacturers. Our new Come Clean campaign is working to end excruciating skin irritation and corrosion tests on animals. Come Clean asks cosmetics companies to reveal whether they perform these tests, so PCRM scientists can help them transition to superior, cruelty-free test methods.
Source: PCRM ( Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine)

Meet the Fearsome New Tool in Airport Security.


If an Israeli company has its way, mice will be the new frontier in airport security. BioExplorers has trained its little critters to sniff out telltale signs of explosives and narcotics, reports AFP. Under its system, travelers would pass through a small booth, and mice in a nearby chamber would be able to sniff the air to detect possible trouble. Preliminary experiments have had good results, and the program will be tested in a larger pilot program next year. “They have a very developed sense of smell, more than that of dogs,” says the company founder.

Source: http://www.newser.com

 

 

Israeli Athlete’s Donated Organs Save Six Lives.


Sixteen year old Gilad Veturi collapsed during running practice and died two days later. He had just completed a 60-meter sprint. Gilad was an excellent athlete in perfect health. Doctors are unsure if he died from a brain aneurysm or an irregular heartbeat.

Gilad’s parents decided to donate his organs to save the lives of others. His heart was given to a 56-year-old man, his lungs were transplanted into two men ages 63 and 67, his liver was given to a 64-year-old woman, one kidney and his pancreas were given to a 36-year-old woman, and the other kidney went to a 24-year-old woman. The surgeries took place at the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva and Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center.

Israel Transplant director Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi said: “Gilad’s parents represent the beautiful Israel. They are people who give, who are ready to help others and who, at a time of

Source: http://unitedwithisrael.org

Israeli Vaccine: Stops Cancer from Coming Back..


An Israeli company is developing a new cancer drug which aims to stop cancer from coming back.

Every year millions of people are diagnosed with cancer worldwide. Although modern medicine has made huge progress in treating this disease, what often happens is that the cancer is treated and the patient goes into remission or is even “cured” – but then it becomes a waiting game to see if the cancer comes back.

Imagine if there was a new treatment option that would stop cancer from returning!

An Israeli medical team is attempting to do just that, to offer a new treatment with the potential for long-term maintenance – to stop the cancer from coming back.

Vaxil is a clinical stage biotechnology company based in Israel which develops therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer and infectious diseases. Therapeutic vaccines seek to harness the patient’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.

The therapeutic vaccine educates the immune system to seek out and destroy those cells which display cancer “markers” and to leave the healthy cells untouched. This means that the treatment has very few side effects, unlike other conventional treatments. This safety profile also means that it is suitable for long-term maintenance therapy.

Vaxil’s lead product, ImMucin, aims to teach the immune system of the cancer patient to attack those cancer cells which display the protein “MUC1″. Since MUC1 appears on 90% of all cancer cellss, ImMucin has a potentially broad application to many different strands of cancer such as lung, breast, kidney, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic and colon cancer – and even to hematological cancers such as leukemia, lymphomas and myeloma.

ImMucin is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with Multiple Myeloma (a blood cancer). All patients enrolled are in a stage process whereby the disease is coming back after a period of remission.

The clinical trial is being conducted at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem and at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

The trial is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and will involve 15 patients. Future trials are planned in Israel and abroad and will have larger number of participants.

Interim results on half of the trial subjects enrolled (7 out of 15 patients) were released last April and were very encouraging. There were no serious side effects and all ImMucin-treated patients induced a strong immune response.

Moreover, out of the seven patients analyzed, three re-attained a stage of complete response, meaning that the disease progression was stopped and there was no longer any detectable cancer.  Final results from this trial are expected at the beginning of next year. The team is also conducting a follow up study of patients who have completed their treatment with ImMucin and do not require further treatments.

Vaxil’s founder and CEO is Lior Carmon, PhD., MBA.  Dr. Carmon is an expert in the fields of immunology and cancer. After earning his PhD from the Weizmann Institute, Dr. Carmon founded and managed several Israeli biotech companies.  He was joined by Julian Levy M.A., who acts as Vaxil’s President and CFO. Mr. Levy is a Cambridge educated lawyer, who immigrated to Israel England and is a seasoned biotechnology entrepreneur with extensive experience in early stage biotech companies.

Dr. Carmon notes that  “A key advantage of Vaxil’s vaccines is that they can induce a comprehensive and divest immune response without need for an adaptation to the individual’s type of immune systems. Every patient has a unique immune system.  Thus, many therapeutic vaccines are suitable only for a proportion of the potential patient population. Results obtain so far has shown that ImMucin can initiate strong and diversified immune response in all patients, irrespective of their immune system. This is not trivial.” Moreover, unlike many other products “our vaccines are design to try and deal with the tumor’s tendency to evade the immune response. We believe that this is a critical factor for success.”

Although Vaxil’s main interest is therapeutic vaccines, its research team has shown that the scope of the company’s VaxHit technology is very broad and may include new areas such as diagnostics. Earlier this year the company published an article describing the discovery of naturally generated antibodies in cancer patients with myeloma.  By detecting and following the levels of these antibodies, it may be possible to determine the likelihood of patients developing cancer in the future.

Source: http://unitedwithisrael.org

Israel Revolutionizes Liver Disease Treatment.


Israeli scientists are developing a treatment for people suffering from liver disease.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a  “silent” liver disease which affects two to five percent of Americans – approximately six to fifteen million people.  Another ten to twenty percent of Americans, thirteen to twenty three million people, have fat in their livers but have not yet developed NASH.  Tens of millions of people around the world also are at risk of suffering from NASH.

The US National Institutes of Health explains:  ”It resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol.  The major feature in NASH is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage.  Most people with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem.  Nevertheless, NASH can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly.”

Currently the only treatments for NASH are available in injection (hypodermic needle) form.  The problem with injections is that the treatments must first go through the bloodstream and then into the liver.

The Solution

NasVax, an Israeli company based in Ness-Ziona, is forging new ground in developing a treatment for people suffering from NASH.  The CEO of NasVax is Guy Yachin, a seasoned MBA graduate from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the research and development is lead by Dr. Ronald Ellis, who holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Cornell University.  The team in Israel realized that an oral treatment would be much more effective because it can go directly to the intestinal system and into the liver and they developed a drink to suppress the disease.  The drink, an Oral anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (aCD3 MAb) immunotherapy is currently directed toward the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and is in Phase 2A clinical studies on patients.  Research shows that the patients are doing better than patients who are taking traditional treatments.

Dr. Ellis estimates that the treatment will be available to the public in seven to eight years.  He cautions that there are many factors in a clinical studies, so an exact timeline cannot yet be set.  For example, the team is working on converting the drink into tablet (pill) form but this will require a lot of testing to reach the same effectiveness as the drink.  He also explains that drinks and tablets also have side benefits. “Traditional injection treatments for NASH often have negative side effects.  But we do not see these side-effects with our treatment.”  In addition, “Traditional injection treatments are not easy for patients.  People do not like going to a clinic once a week or once a month.  It is easier to take a pill from the pharmacy.”

Innovation Nation

CEO Guy Yachin explains “NasVax has a history of taking research from universities and small companies.  We look for opportunities at early states.  Of our four major products, all began in biotech start-ups or universities.  There is a lot of innovation in Israel, and we can tap it.  Then we develop it for clinical trials and commercialization.”

Mr. Yachin explains how NesVax fills a gap between the early start–up and large corporations.  “We bring medical treatments into Phase 2 Clinical Trials.  Then we look for a partner who has the resources to put the treatments into the finals states of clinical trials.  These are usually large pharmaceutical or biotechnological corporations with deep resources.”

Dr. Ellis describes how he was drawn to immunology.  “I have been vaccines and immunotherapeutics for over thirty years.  What motivates me to continue?  I want to benefit humanity and prevent suffering.”

CEO Guy Yachin describes business innovation in Israel:  ”My background is in engineering and business.  I was attracted to the medical devices field.  Eventually, I shifted my career to biotech.  I love the opportunity to do something good, and to develop something that is unique with a talented group of people.”

Yachin adds, “We are in the US and Israel.  Most of our research and development is in Israel.  We have been listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange since December 2005.”

Dr. Ellis describes what makes Israeli biotechnology companies unique. “Israeli companies are much more cost effective and move rapidly.  We use financial resource with more focus than American companies. Israeli biotechnology companies have limited resources compared to their counterparts in the US.  We do a lot more outsourcing, and spend most of our time managing other companies.  For example we know that other companies can do many functions better and at a lower cost than if we did everything on our own.  When we need to produce an antibody, run clinical trials, or sequence a DNA molecule, we find a firm that is an exert in that function.”

Source: http://unitedwithisrael.org