Tsedek-Info of Israel No. 129 May-June 2018

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Tsedek-Info of Israel No. 129 May-June 2018

Distinctions & performances

- Pr. Halina Abramowitz of the Faculty of Exact Sciences of Tel Aviv University was unanimously elected to head the commission for the update of the European Strategy for Particle Physics; it is responsible for developing the future policy of the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN), the largest particle physics center in the world, located in Geneva.
- Pr. Pinchas Alpert of the Department of Earth Sciences at Tel Aviv University wins the prestigious Birkens Medal awarded by the European Geoscience Union (EGU), considered one of the most prestigious prizes in the world in the field of atmospheric sciences. He studied the causes of the phenomenon of global darkening or planetary obscuration, the gradual decrease in the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the Earth.

Inspecto, an Israeli start-up, has won the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's (UNECE) Idea4Change (Idea for Change) Award, UNECE) for its prototype for detecting pesticides on food.

- Suaad Abd-Elhadi, Ph.D. student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, won the Kaye Innovation Award for her diagnostic tool, ELISA, which detects Parkinson's at a much earlier stage than existing tools and allows monitor the progress of the disease.

High tech

- Dr. Shai Maritzki is already the founder of Pluristem Therapeutics Ltd, a company specializing in bone marrow cells, today one of the most successful companies in the biomedical field. Then he created a biotech company, Bonus BioGroup Ltd in Haifa, which developed a new technology, a live graft of human bone for bone grafts. This semi-liquid graft is made from fat cells of the patients concerned, and is injected on the missing parts of the bone. After a few months, the graft hardens and fuses entirely with the jaw which returns to its normal shape. Prof. Maritzki: " For the first time in the world, we will be able to reconstitute deficient bones using laboratory-made human bone, and transplant it, with a minimum of invasive surgery, by injection. " 

- Avner Avidan (Monash University) and Yair Moneta (Tel Aviv University) have developed a portable system to evaluate the presence of residual pesticides on foods such as fruits and vegetables. They created Inspecto, which uses technology based on the latest advances in spectroscopy, to identify and quantify a molecule via its "fingerprint" on the optical spectrum from the product scan. Inspecto will be able to establish a sufficient database to be used directly by consumers within ten years. The device estimates the concentration of residual chemicals in ppm (ppm per million or mg / kg)



- Two researchers from Haifa University, Eshbal Ratson and Jonathan Ben-Dov, have completed the reconstruction of one of the last two scrolls still in process of deciphering Qoumran manuscripts, from 60 fragments of less than one cm2. They found indications on a calendar "non lunar" (year of 364 days), but also details on celebrations that have disappeared since, during the passage of the four seasons. These days are called "teqoufah" or periods. These are festivals celebrating the abundant harvests of wheat, vines and olive trees. In fact, wheat, wine and oil are the staples for good nutrition of the people. They are the best benefits of which the deity gives a humanity that respects its laws and commands. The 364d calendar is easier to follow than the 365d calendar because it is divisible by 4 and 7. And it was considered perfect by this Essene sect, which was dedicated to the ideals of purity and justice. This scroll also contains the oldest copy of the Decalogue.

- Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and his team from the Israel Antiquities Authority (AAI) discovered on the site of the Western Wall Plaza a fragment of limestone seal, written in Hebrew and well preserved, dating from 1st Temple and mentioning 2 governors in Jerusalem. This discovery of an official seal bearing 2 faces and dating from 27 centuries is exceptional.

- Dr. Katia Cytryn-Silverman, PhD student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at the Institute of Archeology and Department of Islamic Studies, director of excavation at Tiberias, explains that the basalt door discovered in 2010 , with the carved imprint of a 7-branch candlestick or "menorah" is a funeral door, symbolically recalling the Jewish past related to the Temple. The door is 2/4th s. and was used as the base of a pillar in a mosque built in the 7thth s. The mosque was destroyed by an earthquake in 1068 and during the Crusades, the site was dedicated to the production of sugar, but the structure collapsed in 13th s.

- Achia Cohen Tavor of the Civil Administration of Archeology and her team, with the help of Herzog College archaeologist, Dr. Itzhak Meitlis, discovered in Susya, on Mount Hevron, coins, pottery and ritual baths, showing the presence of a Jewish community in Judea dating back to 2100 years, at the time Hasmonean.

- Archaeologists from the Qesem Cave excavation site near Rosh Ha'ayin, led by Pr Avi Gopher and Pr Ran Barkai from the Department of Archeology and Ancient Near-Eastern Culture of Tel Aviv University, have discovered what they think is a prehistoric school, where the ancestors of modern humans taught their children how to survive by making flint tools and deer animals 400,000 years ago. This site one of the most outstanding prehistoric sites on the planet. There are traces of the first home lit by man to cook food, thousands of "recycled" tools, including hammers made of bone and stones of flint reworked, indications of the diet of our ancestors Neanderthals, as well as how they ate their food. Ella Assaf: " By observing the existing tribes of hunter-gatherers, we can deduce that there was a similar social structure among the hominids, and that children learned very early how to make flint instruments and cut up the animals to use their meat and their skin ". The life expectancy of the hominien was around 30 years. But at this stage of his evolution, he had already developed many technological skills that allowed him to have the advantage over the animals around them, yet more physically powerful.

- Thanks to drone research, IAA archaeologists under the direction of Dr. Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered in the north of the Negev, in the Lachish region, in the excavations of Horvat A'mouda, a Hellenistic structure dating back to 2200 years, an Idumean palace or a temple. The site is located in a military zone near Bet Gouvrin-Maresha National Park. An extremely rare stone incense altar features the carved design of a bull on one side and on the other a kind of horse. The building had to be destroyed in the Hasmonean era. Delicately painted pottery bowls, jugs and oil lamps were also found. Located in an agricultural establishment, the site also includes ritual baths, oil presses, dovecotes ...


Did you know ? The group that invented the shared office WeWork wants to reinvent an Israeli institution of more than 100 years, a qibouts but in town. "WeLive" is a concept of shared living spaces that provides furnished apartments with common places and amenities, an "urban kibbutz"

Did you know ? Tourism grew by 25% in 2017, reaching 3.6 million!, The American group being the largest, 716000, followed by the Russians with 307000. France comes in 3rd position with 284000 tourists.

Did you know ? In collaboration with the Municipality of Tel Aviv, a small greenhouse was created just opposite the Habima Theater. The objective is to learn how to grow edible fruits and vegetables at home, to consume them directly once they have reached maturity ... From theoretical learning of hydroponics to practice everything is done to be able to prepare your own small vegetable garden. On the spot, we also sell seeds for more than 50 different fruits and vegetables. Urban agriculture is gaining momentum in the country.

Did you know ? According to the website "Jews for Jesus", from 30000 to 125000 Jews in the world believe in Jesus.


- Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT): " Just like the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system, there is now a technological steel dome underground ... We have developed new technological means to detect and destroy all types of tunnels, while building along the border a wall underground "

- The Etsec subsidiary of the Elbit Industries Company in Sderot has developed a light and powerful rifle periscope called "Xact" which functions as a smartphone, linking with one or more other rifles by wifi or bluetooth, operating at night and in the dark over a distance of 300/600 m, but up to 2 km for a sniper. This tool can be adapted for the day and any existing manual weapon. Its battery lasts 8 hours.

Inventions and discoveries

- A team led by Pr Boaz Pokroy of the Technion's Department of Materials Science and Engineering discovered how a beautiful starfish called "ophiure" can create a material similar to underwater tempered glass. On the arms of this creatures are located hundreds of focal lenses that hold clues to make complex ceramics. Made of chalk, the lenses are powerful and precise, and the decryption of their crystalline structure and nanometric allowed to make this link. Dr. Pokroy studies materials created by living organisms and produces similar synthetic materials using nature-inspired methods. Shellfish shells, pearls, bones and turtle shells are some examples of biominerals. " What is impressive about biominerals is that they are made from materials available to the body, for example, chalk ... Engineers would never choose chalk as a sustainable building material, but nature uses and successfully uses different reinforcement strategies. In addition, creatures produce these biominerals under available conditions, without furnaces or pressure generating devices available in research laboratories. So it's clear that as scientists and engineers we have a lot to learn from these processes For the sake of comparison, tempered glass and prestressed concrete are produced by exerting pressure that compresses the material and makes it more compact than its natural state. Quenching of the glass, for example, is achieved by heating and then rapidly cooling the material. In this process, the outside of the material cools faster than the inside and thus compresses the inside. The team discovered that the crucial step in the lens formation process is the transition from the amorphous phase - the phase between liquid and solid - to the crystalline phase. At this stage, the calcite nanoparticles - which are richer in magnesium and characterized by greater compactness at the atomic scale - separate from the rest of the material. The difference in magnesium concentration in calcite particles causes varying degrees of hardness, density and pressure in different regions of the material. The magnesium-rich particles press on the inner part of the lens as it crystallizes, and "soak" it into a clear, harder crystalline material. This biostrategy can thus be used in the reinforcement of synthetic ceramic materials used in various applications ranging from optical lenses to automotive turbochargers and even to biomaterial implants.

- Benjamin Palmer and researchers at the Department of Structural Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, discovered that the scallop shell had a sophisticated visual system that could include up to two hundred eyes a millimeter in diameter functioning as telescopes. Most of the animal's eyes have a lens, a lens that converges the light to the retina of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Marine organisms such as scallop and deep-sea fish have a system of mirrors to create light reflection images and are programmed to capture the light waves that enter their habitat. The eyes of the scallops are thus equipped with a concave mirror to reflect the light. These mirrors are made up of a mosaic of microscopic crystalline cubes whose complex three-dimensional morphology also reduces optical aberrations and produces sharp images. The mirrors form images on a retina with two layers of tissue, so as to separately produce images in the central and peripheral visual field giving the scallop a visual field of about 250 degrees compared to 180 degrees for the eyes humans.

This study paves the way for the creation of new optical instruments inspired by biology or lead to applications in imaging or for new sensors.

Social issues

Nearly half of Israeli students are diagnosed with learning disabilities. Pr. Tzipi Horowitz-Krauss from the Technion Faculty of Science and Technology Education, has discovered electrophysiological markers that quantitatively measure the ability of readers who have trouble identifying their reading errors. She also found that these markers reflect the effectiveness of intervention programs in children with learning disabilities: when reading ability improved, the brains of struggling readers showed an increase in literacy intensity. cerebral activity during a reading error. " Learning disabilities limit affect, self-esteem, and sense of belonging, and can affect the ability to make decisions in both the social, academic, and academic domains. employability ". Pr. Tzipi Horowitz-Krauss created the first center in Israel for brain imaging in children (neuroimaging-center.technion.ac.il). Using EEG and a child-friendly MRI model, and a beautifully constructed environment, she works with children with various disorders, dyslexia, auditory processing problems, psychiatric disorders and neurological problems.


Agriculture and botany


Pr Asaph Aharoni and Dr. Guy Polturak of theWeizmann Institute of Science in Israel managed to genetically modify a large number of vegetables and flowers so that they produce different pigments possessing, in particular, anti-cancer properties. Pigments have been shown to attract pollinating insects or to protect plants from certain diseases. There are three main categories of pigments that generate almost all the colors of the plant world: anthocyanins, carotenoids and betalaines. Each of these families has very particular characteristics, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or anticancer properties. Pigments are important for the scientific community.

The team was interested in a class of pigments, called betalaine, present in particular in red beets, cacti, bougainvillea, night owls (Mirabilis jalapa) etc. It observed and then traced the gene allowing the production of betalaines, as well as the metabolic mechanisms leading to their manufacture; these use an amino acid, tyrosine, as elemental brick. The team then grafted the gene into yeasts to make them produce the desired color. After this first test, she grafted this gene into tomatoes or potatoes and managed to give them different colors. She has also managed to control the production area of ​​these pigments, for example limiting the color to tomato fruits. The content of betalaines increases the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. In addition, these pigments actively fight against Botrytis Cinerea, a species of fungus - characteristic of over-ripe strawberries - which destroys a large quantity of edible plants every year. Finally, researchers are also able to produce this pigment on a large scale economically. Once extracted, it allows the manufacture of essential drugs with high added value.


- According to the Minister of Economy and Industry, Eli Cohen « Exports are of great importance to the economy, they are the engine of economic growth and the main source of stable jobs in the country ". In 2017, exports grew by 5% and exceeded $ 100 billion. 45 billion goods, 7 billion diamonds and 1.2 billion agricultural products, the rest being exported to the Palestinian Authority.

- Israel remains the country with the highest poverty among OECD countries, although it fell by 1.3% in 2016. 18.6% of families live below a monthly income of 8345 sheqel for 4 people. The most vulnerable, including the disabled, remain "left behind" (source NII)


- Pr. Satchi-Fainaro, Head of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and the Cancer Research Laboratory and Nano-Medicine at Tel Aviv University, and his team have succeeded in developing a treatment that significantly inhibits the development of pancreatic cancer. Professor Satchi-Fainaro: " Pancreatic cancer is an extremely aggressive disease. Despite all the treatments offered by modern medicine, many patients with this cancer die in the months following diagnosis, and 75% in less than a year. However, seven percent of people diagnosed survive five years or more. But so far, we did not know what distinguished these patients from others ... In a first step, we took samples of tumor cells and examined the level of expression of genes and microRNAs. In most cases, the results corresponded to a clinical description of a violent cancer: a deficiency in microRNA-34a-like RNA molecules, known to inhibit the genes that promote cancer, and against high level of the oncogene Plk1, which stimulates the activity of cancerous tumors ".

In order to examine the relationship between these results and the survival time of the patients the researchers turned to Pr. Eytan Ruppin, expert in bioinformatics, who used the giant database TCGA - "atlas of the cancer genome" - and applied to him specific algorithms that he has developed for this purpose. Calculations have shown that in patients who have survived for a long time, the ratio is reversed: high level of the microRNA-34a cancer inhibitor, and low level of the Plk1 oncogene. Whole tissue examination confirms the inverse relationship that was found between levels of both biomarkers in "normal" versus surviving patients. The team has developed tiny "transport vehicles" of drugs, polymer-based nanoparticles that decompose and release their cargo under the influence of a specific enzyme found at the cancer site. In these nanoparticles, it has stored microRNA-34a (deficient in patients who die rapidly), and siRNA (small interfering RNA) that depresses the Plk1 oncogene. The two substances released simultaneously at the tumor site acted synergistically, delaying cancer progression by 96% after 45 days of treatment.

Via Surgical introduced a new "FasTouch" tool to attach a mesh to tissues, allowing surgeons to treat hernias with fewer complications, less pain and faster recovery. Open hernia surgery involves poking a net on the weak tissue. Today, many hernias are repaired laparoscopically. But because suturing through tiny laparoscopic incisions is difficult, most surgeons use a less ideal solution - thumbtacks screwed to attach the mesh to the abdominal wall or bone. FasTouch is used to fix prosthetic material on soft tissue. It is designed as sutures and delivered as bedbugs, with the goal of providing the best of both worlds for laparoscopic hernia repair.                                    

- Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly population. Although much progress has been made in the diagnosis of the disease in recent decades, there is still no effective treatment against it..Alzheimer's disease disrupts many processes, such as oxygen delivery to the brain and protein formation, and causes inflammation of the neurological system", Explains Prof. Ashery. A study conducted by Prof. Uri Ashery and PhD student Ronit Shapira, Department of Neurobiology, Tel-Aviv University, and Prof. Dr. Shai Efrati from the University Medical School and the Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Assaf Harofeh Hospital has shown that hyperbaric oxygen therapy significantly improves the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Hyperbaric chamber therapy, including exposure to air containing 100% oxygen at above normal pressure, is used clinically to treat a variety of diseases and conditions to increase tissue oxygen delivery. damaged and accelerate the healing process, including increasing the number of stem cells. Recent studies have shown that hyperbaric chamber therapy can be effective in patients who have suffered a stroke or head traumaeven years after the event.

The team has found a 5.6-fold increase in oxygen levels in the brain, a 65 per cent reduction in the pathological markers of Alzheimer's disease such as amyloid deposits, and a nearly 70 per cent decrease in Tau protein. In addition, the treatment reduced the level of inflammatory factors and increased that of anti-inflammatory factors, thus reducing the phenomenon of inflammation of the nervous system. Prof. Shai Efrati: " In the case of humans, it is likely that treatment should be given in the early stages of cognitive decline before significant degeneration of brain tissue. Hence the importance of early detection of the disease“.

- Prof. Martin Kupiec and Dr. Kobi Simpson-Lavy of the School of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Tel Aviv University identified a protein that could undergo a process of biological transformation that is the reverse of that leading to loss of brain function. The researchers hope that this groundbreaking study may contribute in the future to the treatment of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Professor Kupiec: " With age clusters of proteins or aggregates form in cells. These blocks are created for many reasons, and the process is considered irreversible. This is a typical phenomenon of a number of serious diseases, especially diseases characterized by loss of brain function ". Most of the processes in our cells are done by proteins. In normal times, these are soluble molecules that can move from one place to another in the cell. The protein aggregates interfere with this ability and are responsible for a number of diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow" disease). To minimize this interference, the cell tries to "disassemble" these blocks or stack them in certain locations. For the purposes of the new study, Dr. Simpson-Lavy examined the response of yeast cells to the presence of sugars. He found that the addition of glucose to the growth substrate caused the stacking of a protein called STD1. The formation of aggregates of the Std1 protein depends on the same cellular systems that lead to neurodegenerative diseases of the brain. Thus, researchers have discovered a new biological mechanism of regulation of gene activity that results in a reversion of the aggregation process following changes in environmental conditions. The study suggests that not all protein accumulations cause disease and that it may be possible to transform an irreversible aggregate into a reversible aggregate.

- Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his team have studied the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of cannabis in the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research at the Technion Institute. Prof. Meiri: " Cannabinoids could be used to treat people with cancer, epilepsy and diabetes ... or to help children with autism, by relieving anxiety and aggression, and by improving their ability to communicate. "


Following three decades of research in neuroscience and numerous publications in leading scientific journals, Neurotechnologies company Eyekon ERD designed and developed the scientific platform GlassesOff. Available on iOS and Android, this one-of-a-kind mobile app helps improve near-vision performance and free yourself from reading glasses. The training program is personalized and adapts to GlassesOff technology acts on brain plasticity. The user trains by performing visual exercises to improve the visual cortex's ability to process images received, and thus compensate for optical deficiencies due to aging of the eye.

Sources: IsraelValley, SiliconWadi, ... - contribution: Albert SOUED

The Tsedek-Info series is online at http://www.nuitdorient.com/n40a.htm 


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