Archive For The “Israeli Medicine” Category
The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has reported “significant progress” toward a vaccine against the novel coronavirus this week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he spoke to IIRB’s Director-General Prof. Shmuel Shapira on Tuesday who updated him on the lab’s research and development efforts regarding a vaccine and antibodies. Professor Shapira “noted that there has been significant progress in planning for the vaccine” and that preparations are now being made to start trials on animals, according to the statement.
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A source familiar with the institute’s activities told Reuters and other media outlets that trials were already underway on rodents, without specifying which type.
Medical researcher. Deposit Photos
SEE ALSO: Virtual Conference To Showcase Best Of Israeli Biotech, Medtech Solutions For COVID-19
Eran Zahavy, the institute’s chief innovation officer said last week that the challenges toward vaccine development were high that the lab has seen “good preliminary results but there is a long way to go.”
Zahavy told an audience in an online webinar hosted by Jerusalem Venture Partners titled “Corona Wake Up Call” that the institute has shifted all its focus toward researching the novel coronavirus and that it is currently working with three companies, including two startups, on different aspects of collaboration “especially in treatment, not just a vaccine.”
Netanyahu tapped the secretive institute in early February to begin development on producing a vaccine. The institute is a governmental research center specializing in biology, chemistry and environmental sciences and falls under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office.
“If we work fast enough, with the appropriate budgeting and the talented people we have, the State of Israel will be ahead of the world,” Netanyahu said at the time.
Israeli developments toward a vaccine
Israel’s Migal Research Institute in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona is also working on a vaccine for COVID-19. In early March, Migal scientists said that they have successfully developed a new vaccine for a deadly virus affecting poultry and are now working to adapt the vaccine for humans.
While working on the avian vaccine for IBV (Infectious Bronchitis Virus), an avian coronavirus that affects the respiratory tract, gut, kidney and reproductive systems of domestic fowl, the scientists said they identified a possible COVID-19 vaccine candidate as a by-product. They are working to make “required genetic adjustments to adapt the vaccine to COVID-19, the human strain of coronavirus,” and safety approvals that will allow for in-vivo testing and – in the future – the production of a vaccine.
Scientists at the Migal Research Institute lab which is working on developing a coronavirus vaccine. March 2020. Courtesy
Scientists at the Migal Research Institute lab working on developing a coronavirus vaccine. March 2020. Courtesy
Migal said scientific research conducted at the institute has been found that the avian coronavirus has “high genetic similarity to the human COVID-19, and that it uses the same infection mechanism, a fact that increases the likelihood of achieving an effective human vaccine in a very short period of time.”
Dr. Ehud Shahar, head of the immunology group of the coronavirus research team at Migal, told NoCamels last month that the team was actually working on a number of vaccine platforms, one of which was the avian coronavirus, when the novel human coronavirus outbreak began and then spread.
Dr. Shahar explained that the avian vaccine will “translate quite easily to a vaccine for humans because the principle is the same – to trigger the immune system to fight it. But one difference is that in human cases, you can take a virus and kill it [this is called an inactivated vaccine, like for the flu or polio] or weaken it [this is a live-attenuated vaccine, like for MMR or smallpox] and create a vaccine that way. And what we created is a synthetic vaccine made of two proteins.”
“It’s also an oral vaccine which has two advantages. One, there’s no need for a shot. And two, the protection is in the mucosal tissues which affect the respiratory and intestinal systems. And we know that this is how COVID-19 works, by affecting these systems,” he said.
A vaccine would not treat the disease which has so far infected over 900,000 people worldwide and claimed the lives of more than 40,000. But it is a path toward global immunization.
Israel currently has over 5,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, with 21 deaths and 226 recoveries, according to Health Ministry data from April 1.
Meanwhile, Rehovot-based company Kamada, a commercial-stage plasma-derived biopharmaceutical company, announced a few weeks ago that it was developing a “passive vaccine” for the coronavirus as potential treatment for severely ill patients.
The company specializes in the extraction and purification of proteins from human plasma to produce immune globulins. “The plasma-derived Anti-Corona (COVID-19) IgG product is expected to be produced from plasma derived from donors recovered from the virus, which is anticipated to include antibodies to the novel coronavirus,” the company said.
“The current global crisis resulting from the coronavirus outbreak calls for urgent highly-focused efforts to accelerate the development and manufacturing of potential treatments, especially for life-threatening situations,” said Amir London, CEO of Kamada, in a statement. “Kamada intends to utilize its proven hyper-immune IgG development experience and proprietary technology platform to initiate the development of an Anti-Corona (COVID-19) IgG product. We are working with the Israeli regulatory authorities and local medical institutions to advance our program.”
Global efforts toward a vaccine and treatment
Over two dozen companies and academic institutions worldwide are working to develop a vaccine or a treatment for the coronavirus. China, where the outbreak began in December, quickly shared the genetic material sequence of the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, allowing research groups to begin studies.
US company Moderna was first out the gate, having announced in February that it shipped out an experimental vaccine for testing at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Clinical trials on humans are now starting.
California-based biotech firm Gilead Sciences is currently in a Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of its novel antiviral drug Remdesivir, developed originally for Ebola, in adults diagnosed with COVID-19. These trials build on additional research including two clinical trials in China’s Hubei province led by the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, and a clinical trial in the US-led by NIAID. Results from the studies in China are expected this month, Gilead Sciences said.
Experimental antiviral drugs like Favilavir developed by the Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Company, and HIV drug Kaletra/Aluvia (lopinavir/ritonavir) by American biopharmaceutical company AbbVie are also being tested as treatment.
This week, US-Israeli clinical-stage pharmaceutical company NeuroRx and Swiss drug development company Relief Therapeutics said that they received authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin a mid-stage trial for the use of Aviptadil to treat acute respiratory distress in coronavirus patients. Aviptadil is a patented form of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide that has previously shown promise in treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), in which severe inflammation causes the lungs to fill with fluid, the companies said.
Coronavirus death is primarily caused by ARDS.
Haifa’s Rambam Hospital is set to trial speech-based analysis technology by Israeli company Cordio Medical to remotely monitor and diagnose the status of COVID-19 patients based on samples obtained via a smartphone app.
The Or Yehuda-based Cordio Medical developed the HearO technology to monitor patients suffering from heart failure and the platform could prove useful for the sophisticated management of COVID-19 patients who have received a diagnosis and are in isolation but have yet to be hospitalized, the hospital said.
HearO analyzes recordings of a patient’s speech and can sense fluid accumulation and forewarn of an anticipated deterioration, the company says, adding that the tech has already been proven in clinical trials at 10 medical institutions in Israel including Rambam, the Beilinson-Rabin Medical Center, and Barzilai Hospital. The system provided a pre-deterioration notice on an average of ten days prior to an acute heart failure hospitalization with an accuracy rate of over 80 percent, Cordio says. The HearO system is in the process of seeking FDA approval as a means to monitor heart-failure patients.
Cordio’s solution for COVID-19 patients is based on adapting HearO to the deterioration process associated with the disease characterized by bilateral pneumonia with edema in the lungs. The system would pick up on a deterioration based on slight changes in lung fluids and the onset of inflammation before the patient can feel it, Cordio explained.
The system will also be used for remotely monitoring patients who have recovered and are at home.
The trial will monitor “5,000 patients ongoing in all stages: isolated (no symptoms), mild, moderate and severe conditions,” for 18 months, Cordio Medical CEO Tamir Tal tells NoCamels via email.
Cordio is concentrating on the lung disease-related symptoms that are not easily trackable. Currently, all other symptoms are easily discovered — for example cough and fever, Tal tells NoCamels
The system works by establishing a baseline for each patient after which they will record their voices daily “and we analyze it in our cloud-based system. Each day the system is not alerting, the baseline is adapting and adjusting utilizing the new info,” he says.
Tal explains that if successful, the HearO system will be able to alert the medical team about the start of a lung condition 10-48 hours before the patient’s condition becomes moderate or severe due to the infection.
As of April 1, Israel has over 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including over 200 recoveries and 25 deaths. Most of those diagnosed with the disease are in isolation at home or in hotels with a minority in hospital.
Israel’s Sheba Medical Center is set to use top-of-the-line Israeli tele-medicine technologies to care for 11 nationals making their way back from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan for the past several weeks. The Israelis are expected to arrive at the hospital early Friday where they will be placed in isolation for the next 14 days.
This article was originally posted by NoCamels.com.
See Featured article: Artificial Intelligence.
The patients do not have any symptoms of the novel coronavirus which has so far (as of February 20) infected over 75,000 and killed over 2,1000 people, mainly in mainland China, but the 14-day quarantine is in accordance with guidelines set out by the World Health Organization. Three Israelis traveling on the ship, the Diamond Princess, were diagnosed with the coronavirus, currently known as 2019-nCoV and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and are currently hospitalized in Japan. The ship was carrying over 3,700 people from more than 40 countries.
The 11 Israelis will be housed in an isolation unit at an evacuated hotel on the Sheba campus but away from the main hospital, the medical center said in a statement.
Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.
The hospital will be using technologies such as medical robots, devices and AI-powered sensors operated remotely by doctors to monitor patients and conduct basic check-ups. Participating Israeli companies include Tyto Care, a tele-health company that developed handheld, at-home examination devices that examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature; Datos, a big data platform and app that allows for continuous contact with patients and leverages patient-generated health data for care delivery; and EarlySense, which developed a clipboard-sized sensor that can be embedded in any mattress to monitor sleep, vital signs, and motion, leveraging AI and big data analytics to help clinicians in early detection of patient deterioration
“As Israel welcomes home its citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise who have been directly affected by the coronavirus, Tyto Care is honored to be working with Sheba Medical Center to provide the safest, highest quality medical care to the patients during the quarantine period to help stem the spread of the virus,” said Dedi Gilad, Tyto Care CEO and co-founder. Each of the 12 patients will receive a Tyto Care device to perform comprehensive medical examinations on themselves which “will provide Sheba staff the clinical data they require to make fully informed decisions from a safe distance, without physical exposure to the patients or any contact between the patients.”
“Our solution ensures complete isolation without sacrificing the quality of medical care, preventing further escalation during this critical time,” added Gilad.
Dr. Galia Barkai, director of tele-medicine services at Sheba said, “Datos’ solution can help us greatly reduce this risk by enabling us to monitor less severe patients outside the hospital …with the telemedicine app enabling us to communicate with them via video whenever necessary.”
Professor Arnon Afek, deputy director-general of the Sheba Medical Center and the director of Sheba’s General Hospital said: “We are using some of the world’s most sophisticated high-tech tele-medicine applications taken from our startup ecosystem at Sheba and Israel, using sensors, robots, hand-held devices in order to minimize exposure to our medical staff. The goal is to make our returning citizens feel comfortable in an environment where they will know that all of their needs will be taken care of.”
Professor Afek said the hospital will be doing its utmost “to minimize and eliminate the danger to the public by isolating the returning Israeli citizens,” and is had been preparing for a potential outbreak in the country.
For thousands of years, microscopes have allowed scientists, doctors, and lab professionals to view enlarged images of small objects, cells, bacteria, and other agents that cannot be seen by the naked eye, for the purpose of analysis and examination. Since the invention of the first microscope around 1590, these devices have come a long way, allowing for varying levels of magnifying power and producing images of different types and resolutions. The “world’s most advanced microscope” is said to be able to probe the spaces between atoms.
But microscopes – specifically modern research ones called compound microscopes – remain largely analog devices.
Augmentiqs, an Israeli startup founded in 2016 and based in the northern city of Misgav, seeks to bring microscopes into the modern millennium by turning these medical instruments into augmented reality (AR) devices that will allow for smart, real-time digital pathology.
Pathology is the branch of medical science that involves the study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of certain aspects of the body. The microscope is still the instrument of choice for pathologists.
For digital pathology, a sub-field of pathology that focuses on data management based on information generated from digitized specimen slides, virtual microscopy – posting microscope image on, and transmitting them over, computer networks – is the preferred method of examination.
More specifically, Augmentiqs’ digital pathology solution embraces and enhances the existing microscope, helping pathologists work more effectively, connect remotely with colleagues, and conduct groundbreaking research, the company says.
Augmentiqs’ system is integrated into an existing microscope, connecting it to a PC and transforming it into a smart interactive device that offers a cost-effective alternative to digital pathology, according to the company. This enables real-time examination through the augmented projection of what the microscope eyepiece actually sees.
For pathologists, the platform drastically improves what microscopes have to offer to generate a pathology that is cheaper, faster, and more accurate.
“We came up with a low-cost solution for a digital microscope that doesn’t change the microscope, but enhances it, by providing capabilities of a computer straight to the microscope,” Siegel explains.
From traditional tech to ‘smart’ tech
Siegel says it was the level of distrust he experienced from pathologists at trade shows while working for a different digital pathology company that made him realize digital pathology tech needed to be improved.
Augmentiqs system combined with traditional microscope. Courtesy
“A pathologist comes over and says, ‘In 90 percent of instances, I don’t need you. And in 10 percent, I don’t trust you.’ It was experiences like these that made us realize that the digital pathology tech out there doesn’t fit the needs of the pathologists,” Siegel tells NoCamels.
Augmentiqs sought to revolutionize the digital pathology industry.
An Israeli machine learning-based system is helping a leading local healthcare organization identify patients who run a high risk of developing complications from the flu, or influenza, which has hit Israel especially hard this year.
Medial EarlySign, a Hod Hasharon-based company, announced this month that it was chosen by Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second-largest HMO with over two million patients, as part of its strategy to enhance its flu vaccination campaign. Maccabi will use Medial EarlySign’s flu complications algorithm to flag individuals at high risk of developing flu-related conditions as part of a joint clinical study.
Founded in 2009, Medial EarlySign uses machine-learning solutions to build clinical insights for healthcare organizations based on electronic health records. The company’s technology has been used in studies to identify and stratify prediabetic patients at high risk for progressing to diabetes within a year, to predict which sufferers of diabetes will develop kidney dysfunction within a one-year time-frame. Medial EarlySign also previously partnered with Maccabi in 2016 to identify individuals at high risk of colorectal cancer who are non-compliant with screening guidelines.
As part of the current partnership, Medial EarlySign’s flu complications algorithm will use Maccabi’s EHR (electronic health records) data to identify and stratify unvaccinated individuals at high risk of developing flu-related complications which often require hospitalization.
The aim of the joint project is two-fold, Medial EarlySign co-founder Ori Geva tells NoCamels. “First, Maccabi will be able to figure out which individuals run a high risk of having complications from the flu and will be able to reach out to them specifically. And second, it gives us insights to better build our model.”Geva indicated that Medial EarlySign is engaged in a similar partnership in the US with Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare consortium with over 12 million members.
The company created a customized model of its platform for Israel, Geva tells NoCamels, and the project began in September. Maccabi will work with Medial EarlySign’s system through the flu season which has been quite harsh this year, by all Health Ministry indications.
Israel’s flu outbreak in numbers
In a December press announcement, the Israeli Health Ministry said cases of patients with flu-like symptoms started appearing across the country two weeks earlier than the previous flu season in 2018-2019. Since early last month, there has been an uptick in patients seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms including chest infections, a flu complication, and more patient samples testing positive for various flu strains than the previous year.
Among patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), the rate of positive samples for influenza has also risen in recent weeks, according to a Health Ministry report for the second week of January 2020. As for pneumonia, the most common flu complication, the rate of patients seeking treatment has also been high – higher than the multi-year average – though the ministry said it noted a decrease in January.
Of those 351 cases, 43 patients have died so far this flu season including five who were under 18, the Health Ministry reported. In the 2018-2019 flu season, the death toll was at 49, and the 2017-2018 season claimed 90 lives.
A Different Flu Season?
Professor Varda Shalev, director of KSM Kahn-Sagol-Maccabi Research and Innovation Institute, founded by Maccabi Healthcare Services. Generally speaking, the flu season in Israel this year has also been characterized by two key factors. One, the vaccination program led by Israeli HMOs began later than usual (mid-November) due to a delay in the approval of the vaccine by the World Health Organization, which prepares the shots every year on the basis of dominant strains that appear in the southern hemisphere and are then expected to reach the northern hemisphere. This meant that patients began getting their vaccines later while also facing a shortage.
Despite this, the vaccination rate has been higher compared to the same period last year, according to the Health Ministry, but still rather low overall. As of January 15, 2020, about 2,100,000 people received the vaccine (about 23 percent of the population, compared to about 18 percent last year).
The second factor involves strains. According to the Health Ministry, the dominant influenza strain this year has been H1N1, otherwise known as “swine flu.”
“H1N1 is an especially nasty virus and is known to be quite aggressive,” Professor Varda Shalev, director of KSM Kahn-Sagol-Maccabi Research and Innovation Institute, tells NoCamels. In a statement announcing the partnership with Maccabi, Shalev said the strain “could take a heavier toll this season, particularly on people at high risk for flu complications,” adding that the flu kills “between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally every year.”
Other factors may have also led to this harsher flu season.
Professor Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Chairman of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, says it could also be a combination of factors including possibly “climate change as we observed change in interseasonal intensity in Australia, maybe late vaccination, maybe just normal changes,” he tells NoCamels via email.
Israeli cannabis startup Seedo, the company that has developed a fully-automated indoor medical cannabis grow device, has signed US rapper and cannabis icon Snoop Dogg as a brand ambassador.
The Israeli company said in a statement on Tuesday that Snoop, né Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., will work with Seedo “on a variety of platforms” to “achieve optimal consumer awareness of this innovative technology.”
Learn more about Diane Israel. Also, see Diane Israel on LinkedIn.
Founded in 2013, Seedo developed a fully automated and controlled indoor growing device, resembling a mini-fridge, for pesticide-free agriculture markets with a first focus on cannabis but with wider applications. The product analyzes growth and optimizes conditions for cannabis and other plants for home and commercial use. Monitoring occurs via smartphone app.
Seedo says the device can grow the cannabis plant from seed stage without human intervention over the course of 90 days, making for an independently run cannabis growing operation. The machine weighs between 120-140 pounds (54-63 kg) and measures 40 by 24.4 by 24.4 inches (101 x 62 x 62cm), with units listed at $2,400 each. Seedo says its AI-powered turnkey systems allow anyone, “from average consumers to large-scale producers” to grow a variety of plants at lab-grade quality “without prior experience or ample space.”
Snoop Dogg – whose hits include the track “Smoke Weed Every Day” – said: “Promoting a healthier lifestyle by providing my friends and communities with products that allow for growth in unused urban spaces is something I’m all the way down with.”
“Seedo creates cost savings and the opportunity for all people to benefit from agricultural technologies,” added the rapper, a mega-star and cannabis advocate whose marijuana use is a big part of his public image and his music. In 2012, when Snoop Dogg was briefly known as Snoop Lion, he told a Reddit audience in an AMA – ask me anything – post that he smokes about 81 blunts per day.
And in an interview last week, he revealed that he employs a full-time “blunt roller” who he pays between $40,000 to $50,000 per year, and whose sole responsibility is to prepare Snoop’s preferred marijuana delivery system.
His social media presence, with 36 million followers on Instagram alone, is filled with cannabis memes and references. Snoop Dogg is also a long-time cannabis entrepreneur. In 2015, he co-founded the media organization Merry Jane, which focuses on news about cannabis, and launched a new line of cannabis products called Leafs by Snoop offering a range of flowers, concentrates, and edibles.
Seedo CEO Zohar Levy said the company was “honored to partner with an industry icon like Snoop Dogg.”
“Snoop’s vast global following, industry influence and network reach will provide us an invaluable resource for Seedo as we continue to grow. The synergy between Seedo’s products and Snoop’s platforms is truly natural,” Levy added.
This article was originally sourced by NoCamels.com. The cannabis plant is one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops and its use as medicine goes back nearly 5,000 years in civilizations throughout China, India, and the Middle East.
Nowadays, cannabis continues to be used for a wide range of medicinal purposes. CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive chemical produced by the cannabis plant, is believed to comprise anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and painkilling properties and its benefits including believing insomnia, anxiety, and nausea, and treating symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and autism in children
The disorder occurs when tissue that normally lines the uterus – the endometrium – begins to grow outside the organ. The displaced tissue becomes trapped inside the body, as it reacts as it should by thickening and then bleeding but, unlike in the uterus, it has no way out. This causes a build-up of scar tissue and adhesions which bring on a variety of symptoms, including painful menstruation and intercourse, excessive bleeding, and can even lead to infertility.
The new research into the use of cannabis to treat endometriosis is led by Jerusalem-based startup Gynica, a medical company licensed by the Israeli Health Ministry to develop cannabis-based products for the female body, in cooperation with Lumir Lab, the first and only licensed facility to research cannabis as it relates to women’s health. It is based at the Jerusalem Biotechnology Park at Hebrew University.
Gynica says current treatments for endometriosis – with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs – are often insufficient, as they only target the pain, not prevent it.
“Today, the ways to treat endometriosis are either surgery or medications, such as a pill that suppresses the secretion the hormones or pain-killers. Cannabis is a very different mechanism. It has several compounds that can treat multiple symptoms of the disease,” Dr. Sari Sagiv, VP of Research and Development at Gynica, tells NoCamels.
Gynica’s research in a pre-clinical study focuses on how endometriosis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, the natural cannabis-like molecules produced by the human body. This system is involved “in a wide variety of processes, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function,” according to a series of short articles on UCLA Health.
Gynica references the British Journal of Pharmacology to note that, after the brain, the female reproductive system is the organ with the most endocannabinoid receptors, and notes that it believes “cannabinoids are the missing piece in the treatment of gynecological disorders.”
Gynica’s R&D team maintains that endometriosis is linked to a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system and that cannabinoid-based treatments may offer a new and improved solution for women who suffer from the condition.
The pre-clinical study is led by Professor Lumir Ondrej Hanus, the world-renown chemist who in 1992 isolated the first known endocannabinoid in the human brain, and for whom Lumir Lab is named. The study, Gynica says, has shown “promising results.”
A clinical trial, slated for 2020, will be led by Gynica’s principal investigator and global leading endometriosis specialist Dr. Yuval Kaufman.
Dr. Sagiv, who will run R&D on the trial, says she expects to have a validated product sometimes over the next year, with efforts currently directed towards discovering the optimal strain of cannabis for treating endometriosis. The research is supervised by Professor Moshe Hod, a world-recognized expert in the field of women’s health, president of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine (EAPM), and professor of Gynecology at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Medicine.
“Endometriosis is a complex disease – to simply say ‘cannabis treats it’ is not enough,” she says. Gynica must find and understand the perfect combination and mixture of cannabis compounds. Once the optimal combination is found, Dr. Sagiv says a product will be released in several forms, including creams and patches.
When we hear of new artificial intelligence (AI) applications, especially those that seem a bit too “big brother” for the liking of many, this story should better represent the true intent of libertarian paternalism, or the ethical framework designed to provide optimal decision making while still allowing for freedom of choice.
Medasense Biometrics, a company that has developed a patented technology platform to objectively assess the physiological response to pain (nociception), and which could ebb opioid addiction post-surgery.
See featured article on artificial intelligence.
This company has come up with a portable pain sensor that can tell doctors how much pain a patient is feeling and how much pain care they need. Using artificial intelligence algorithms and real-time data, the company’s easy-to-use system is already changing precision medicine, allowing for personalized and optimized pain care to ensure that the patient doesn’t get too many opioids.
“Unlike other aspects of anesthesia, there have not been good monitors of painful stimuli during surgery, and how patients react. It has thus been challenging for anesthesiologists to know how much medication is needed to blunt surgical pain in individual patients. The problem is that too much or too little pain medication (usually narcotics) can be harmful. A monitor that accurately measures how patients react to surgical pain might therefore help guide clinical care,” Dr. Daniel Sessler, the founder and director of the Outcomes Research Consortium (the world’s largest clinical anesthesia research group), tells NoCamels.
Indeed, the average rate of later opioid dependence and addiction among surgical patients hovers at 12 percent, according to a US national pain report.
“We know that the first exposure to opioids for a large number of people addicted to opioids occurs after surgery. Thus it is logical that if we have a technology that allows us to titrate opioids more carefully during surgery, we can potentially decrease the habituation to opioid analgesia that the body develops during and immediately after surgery,” Dr. Frank J. Overdyk, an anesthesiologist in Charleston, South Carolina, tells NoCamels in an email exchange.
In fact, a recent study published in a peer-reviewed American Society of Anesthesiologists journal showed a 30-percent reduction in remifentanil consumption (a potent, short-acting synthetic opioid analgesic drug that is given to patients during surgery to relieve pain and as an adjunct to an anesthetic) in procedures performed with the Israeli company’s platform.
The pain sensor tech has been part of a number of clinical studies across the world including in the US, Europe, Canada, Japan, Israel, and Chile.
“For the first time in the history of surgery and anesthesia will we have the ability to measure painful stimuli during surgery directly. Currently, we have had to use indirect measures of pain such as high heart rate, pupil dilation and sweating as signs of pain. The NOL will allow us to titrate pain medicines more precisely and early studies suggest we will be able to use less opioid pain medicine. For patients, this means fewer side effects such as nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation and inability to void,” says Overdyk.
How smiley-faces warned of the need for new pain assessment
Founder and CEO of Medasense, Galit Zuckerman-Stark grew up in operating rooms, watching her mom, a nurse, care for patients.
Just when we thought that the only absolute things in life are “death and taxes,” medical and scientific breakthroughs may be able to forestall the former indefinitely. Of course, we’re not there yet but not long from now it’s not hard to imagine the swapping out of vital organs much like car parts are replaced with factory new ones all the time.
And just like that, the Ship of Theseus thought experiment becomes remarkably relevant. In the metaphysics of identity, the ship of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether a ship—standing for an object in general—that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.
All other things being equal, especially the presumption that our empirical history is retained by our brain (or a replacement… is that even possible?), we would still be the continuous meat package for this single irreducible component.
But enough of my meanderings. The excerpts that follow were originally reported by NoCamels.com, my “go to” resource for Israeli tech and innovation news.
The future is here. In a world first, Israeli scientists have created a live heart in a revolutionary new 3D printing process that combines human tissue taken from a patient.
In November, Tel Aviv University researchers said they invented the first fully personalized tissue implant engineered from a patient’s own biomaterials and cells, paving the way for new technology that would make it possible to develop any kind of tissue implant from one small fatty tissue biopsy.
Now, these same researchers created a real heart using their innovative process at the Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine led by Professor Tal Dvir, an associate professor at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology.
“This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart complete with cells, blood vessels, ventriclesProfessor Dvir, Tel Aviv University’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
The process involved taking fatty tissue, after which the cellular and a-cellular materials were then separated. While the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells and efficiently differentiated to cardiac or endothelial cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules, such as collagen and glycoproteins, were processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing “ink,” Tel Aviv University said in a statement.
The differentiated cells were then mixed with the bio-inks and were used to 3D-print patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire, tiny heart.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In 2016 alone, an estimated 17.9 million people died from heart diseases, a majority due to heart attack and stroke.
Heart transplantation is currently the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure. And with a shortage of heart donors, this scientific breakthrough development may blaze a trail in the medical world, paving the way for a potential revolution in organ and tissue transplantation.
“This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In our process, these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models,” Professor Dvir said.
“People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future,” he added.
Tel Aviv University explained that in the current method for tissue engineering for regenerative medicine, cells are isolated from the patient and cultured in biomaterials, synthetic or natural, derived from plants or animals, to assemble into a functional tissue. After transplantation, they may induce an immune response that can lead to rejection of the implanted tissue.
Patients who are recipients of engineered tissues or other implants often require treatment with immuno-suppressors, which can endanger the health of the patient.
With this development, “patients will no longer have to wait for transplants or take medications to prevent their rejection. Instead, the needed organs will be printed, fully personalized for every patient,” the university said in a statement.
Featured article. Artificial Intelligence Disrupts MedTech Radiology.
The process was outlined in an article titled “3D Printing of Personalized Thick and Perfusable Cardiac Patches and Hearts” published on Monday in “Advanced Science,” a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Research for the study was conducted jointly by Professor Dvir, Dr. Assaf Shapira of TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences, and Nadav Moor, a doctoral student in the lab.
In their study, the team worked with two models: one made from human tissue, and another made from rat tissue.
In the press briefing, Professor Dvir emphasized that the technology “won’t be available in clinics or hospitals tomorrow, we are in the very early stages of this technology.” But, he said, in about a decade, as 3D printing technology evolves, hospitals and clinics may have these printers on site.
Professor Dvir explained that the heart, currently the size of that of a rabbit’s, will need to undergo a maturing process in bioreactors – a system that supports a biologically active environment – to keep the cells alive and grow them to accommodate a life-sized heart, while “teaching” them to organize and interact with each other and achieve pumping ability.
Currently, he said, “the cells are capable of contracting separately but not pumping.”
The printing process takes between 3-4 hours, but the maturing process takes about a month, after which the scientists will begin testing on small animals such as rabbits and rats.
They hope this will happen in a year or two.
Dr. Shapira tells NoCamels that the scientists will 3D-print hearts for these respective animals from their own tissues after which they will conduct transplants and begin clinical trials.
The potential is great. According to Professor Dvir, the use of “native” patient-specific materials is crucial to successfully engineering tissues and organs.
“The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments,” he said. “Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient’s own tissues. Here, we can report a simple approach to 3D-print thick, vascularized and perfusable cardiac tissues that completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient.”
But there are also significant hurdles. First is cost. Professor Dvir says the printing process for the heart cost “a few thousand shekels” in a lab environment, but should the technology be commercialized in the future, it will likely be expensive.
The scientists will have to print a human-sized heart and that could pose a challenge. “How do you print all the cells and blood vessels for a heart?” asked Professor Dvir in reference to the resolution limitations currently of 3D printers.
“We must take into consideration that 3D printing technology is also developing,” he said.
“Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely,” he said.
Over a thousand visitors from forty-five countries converged on Tel Aviv for CannaTech, the medical Cannabis (marijuana) conference. Participants from the biotech, pharmaceutical, and medicine were all ears (and eyes) at what appears to be the world’s largest medical cannabis conference, giving Israel yet another designation of Cannabis Nation.
The following content has been exported from NoCamels.com where this story was originally reported.
According to Kaye, the Israeli government’s inhibition of cannabis business in the past, which he says was due to fear of the negative image associated with exporting “guns, cannabis, and other drugs,” made medical cannabis a “heavily illegitimate market.” Despite earlier government backlash, however, continuous pressure and a greater number of resources devoted to medical cannabis research have allowed for CannaTech’s consistent growth since its inception in 2015.
As perhaps the chief representative of the Israeli medical cannabis market, CannaTech’s development signifies Israel’s quick emergence as a global industry leader.
“We’re uniquely placed in innovation, ag-tech, water tech, and now canna-tech in order to propel us into what is the next massive industry […] When you add in the culture of funding startups, and the ability to both black market test and sell your product to an audience, that creates an environment that’s fantastic for a growing ecosystem,” Kaye states.
He also cites Israel’s advanced hospitals, universities and claim to the highest number of PHDs per capita as additional contributors to the country’s potential for sustained success in the industry and the world’s primary innovator and producer of medical cannabis.
“Patients who need medicine now have to get it from somewhere – they can get it from Canada or they can get it from Israel. Those are your options in the world. Canada’s leading and Israel will catch up.”
In January, Israel’s Ministry of Health gave its long-awaited approval for the medical cannabis export law, paving the way for the country to become a leading medical cannabis exporter, and participant in the global cannabis sector. Although law enforcement officials have not yet established a framework through which new international cannabis trade will be executed, the market has already begun to feel the law’s effects. “We are talking about a $2 billion industry next year that, last year, was also a $2 billion industry, it just wasn’t legal,” Kaye says.
By 2029, the global cannabis industry is expected to soar to $33 billion, which Kaye believes is necessarily an underestimate: “It’s the fastest growing industry in the world with more consumers than we know about because they have all been in the closet. So, we don’t really know the size, but it’s way bigger than whatever we think it’s going to be.”
Despite the growing support for medical cannabis within Israel and beyond, there are those who still doubt the plant’s positive potential, arguing that it may decrease societal productivity. Kaye urges doubters to reject “uneducated stigma that they’ve been taught for 60 years” and to instead, turn to cannabis research.