Hepatitis C has been enough of a problem, but there are also a dozens of Israelis who also have kidney failure and undergo kidney dialysis as well.
Dr. Yoav Lurie of the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, along with liver experts at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Rambam Medical Center and Carmel Medical Center in Haifa are about to test the Merck drugs MK-5172 and MK-8742 on their kidney failure patients (or those who have undergone kidney transplants but the new organs do not function well enough) who also have hepatitis C.
“Such people are usually very fragile because of their multiple conditions and most of them have not been eligible for current medications because these could worsen their general and kidney conditions,” said Lurie.
“But with the development of the experimental new pills, we are about to test one of them and are in the process of reviewing possible candidates. We can accept only those who are in reasonable condition.” The international trial will take up to six months, said Lurie, but “we are very hopeful, because in previous cases, no side effects were observed in patients with normal kidney functions.”
A significant, multi-year commitment by Sylvia M. G. Soyka, director, and the Board of Trustees of the SMGS Family Foundation to the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (CFHU) announced today will be used to launch an international research project in pancreatic cancer to identify molecular drivers associated with metastasis. This will improve understanding and clinical management of a fatal disease. Researchers at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Sheba Medical Center in Israel and at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) in Canada will work together to uncover the molecular landscape of pancreatic cancer and the underlying pathways that are driving the disease.
Pancreatic cancer remains the most deadly common solid tumour in developed countries. Approximately 80 per cent of patients present with advanced disease, are not eligible for surgery and have extremely poor prognosis. These advanced forms of pancreatic cancer have generally been understudied. Advances in combating this aggressive disease require detailed molecular analysis of tumours to uncover the pathways driving tumour growth and dissemination. The ultimate goal of this collaborative effort is to discover new biomarkers for detection and diagnostics and potentially to find new targeted therapies that will improve patient outcomes.
Researchers based in Toronto and in Israel will continue to identify incident cases of pancreatic cancer and build a powerful research infrastructure. They will focus on augmenting their existing large bank of biospecimens and data from patients with early stage tumours by collecting material from patients with more advanced disease. OICR will use state-of-the-art technologies for high-throughput molecular analysis of tumours (e.g., DNA, RNA and protein activity), and its platforms will provide the support for extracting molecular data. Researchers at IMRIC will use the collected patient specimens to conduct detailed molecular analyses and experimental studies.
“This is an exciting opportunity to bring together world-class researchers from Canada and Israel, all of whom are experts in the field of pancreatic cancer research,” said Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of OICR. “This partnership could lead to important new insights into one of the most deadly cancers.”
“Sylvia Soyka’s philanthropic dedication and determination to make a difference in the area of pancreatic cancer research serves as a role model and inspiration to those of us who are fortunate enough to be touched by her vision and focus. The SMGS Family Foundation has acted to make Sylvia’s vision a reality,” said Merle Goldman, Executive Vice President, CFHU.
“Pancreatic cancer remains the most deadly type of solid tumour in the developed world, with overall survival of less than five per cent,” said Dr. Steven Gallinger, Senior Investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Initiative at OICR. “By better understanding pancreatic cancer at a molecular level, we can develop the critical new personalized tools needed to detect, diagnose and treat pancreatic tumours sooner, and potentially improve the lives of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the future.”
“We are extremely excited about this new partnership. It opens a whole range of possibilities for tackling a terrible disease, for which we currently have very few tools. The partnership will allow us to bring together a unique combination of research approaches, cutting edge technologies, and clinical data and material. Importantly, it opens new avenues for scientific interaction,” said Dr. Ittai Ben Porath, Chair of the Grafstein Cancer Network for Cancer Research.
“My father, Alex U. Soyka, was a remarkable and vital man who spent six weeks downhill-skiing and was not yet retired at the age of ninety. He did not die of old age; he died of metastasized pancreatic cancer three months to the day after formal diagnosis. It is a privilege to be able to pay tribute to the man he was by supporting this team of dedicated, skilled and passionate researchers,” said Sylvia Soyka.
“I extend my congratulations to all the researchers involved in this international partnership, and I am delighted that Ontario researchers are playing a key role in such an important international initiative to help those facing pancreatic cancer,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation.
Breastfeeding can increase the chances of preventing cancer, a new Israeli study has found.
The research, conducted at Haifa University, compared children who were breastfed with children who were not, and concluded that the nursing decreased the chances of developing cancer by 60%.
The study also compared children who were exclusively breastfed until the age of at least four months, or in addition to recommended nutritional complementary feeding for at least a year, with children who stopped being breastfed before the age of four months. The chance of getting cancer among those who were exclusively breastfed was 40% lower.
The study was funded by the Israel Cancer Associations. The researchers – Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Center for Disease Control, and Efrat Amitai – interviewed 190 women whose children developed leukemia or lymphoma at the ages of one to 19, as well as 348 mothers of healthy children who were selected from the patients’ immediate surroundings.
“We asked the mothers in the study about breastfeeding, nutrition, exposure to pets, exposure to detergents, etc.,” said Dr. Keinan-Boker.
An Israeli plastic surgeon and his brother, a biomedical engineer, have invented what they claim is the world’s first lightweight breast implant – B-Lite. It is heading to the European market and Israel is to follow soon.
Breast augmentation and reconstruction are the most common procedures in plastic surgery, with more than 1.5 million implant operations performed worldwide every year.
Dr. Jacky Govrin was addressing a problem that hadn’t been solved since implants were first introduced in 1962: their sheer weight.
Breast implants consist of a silicone shell filled with silicone gel or saline (saltwater). The filling makes each implant weigh about the same as a can of Coke. Since breasts naturally sag over time, adding the weight of a full can of soft drink only hastens the process.
It’s not just a cosmetic issue. Larger implants, especially those used for reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, weigh as much as 500 grams (about one pound) and can cause discomfort, skin stretching and back pain as they pull downward.
So about eight years ago, the surgeon challenged his brother, Dael Govrin-Segal, to design a lighter implant without compromising safety and quality.
“I said, ‘Sure, no problem,’ but didn’t realize it was not easy or trivial at all,” Govrin-Segal tells ISRAEL21c. “There were a bunch of limitations to overcome.”
Israel’s Oramed, which is racing Novo Nordisk of Denmark to develop the world’s first insulin pill, moved a step closer to its goal on Thursday by announcing successful results from a small mid-stage test.
The oral drug delivery specialist said its insulin capsule had met all primary and secondary endpoints in a Phase IIa clinical trial and it now plans to launch a larger mid-stage study in the third quarter.
Shares in the Nasdaq-listed company opened 10 percent higher at $28.50 on the news. The stock has surged from around $4 since the end of 2012 on rising hopes for its insulin pill.
The concept of oral insulin as a way to relieve diabetics of several daily injections has been around since the 1930s, but making it a reality is extremely difficult because insulin is destroyed by enzymes in the digestive system.
Oramed believes that it has now found a solution to allow enough insulin to survive the onslaught of digestive juices to still do some good.
At least 90 percent of the more than 382 million diabetes sufferers worldwide are in the type 2 category, according to the International Diabetes Foundation, which expects the number of diabetes patients to near 600 million by 2035.
Consensus analyst forecasts suggest that the overall diabetes drug market, worth $37 billion a year at present, will reach more than $57 billion by 2018, according to Thomson Reuters Pharma.
Oral insulin could make it easier for sufferers to start early treatment, slow progression of the disease and delay the need for injections, Oramed said. Unlike injections, the ingested form passes first into the liver, which regulates the secretion of insulin into the bloodstream.
The new year-long Phase IIb study in the United States will study 150 type 2 diabetes patients and mainly test for the drug’s effectiveness, Chief Executive Nadav Kidron told Reuters after the company issued results of the Phase IIa trial.
During the Phase IIa trial, conducted under a new US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug protocol, 30 patients with type 2 diabetes entered an in-patient setting for one week.
“The FDA wanted us to show one thing – that it was safe so they will let us do a IIb trial,” Kidron said.
While Oramed was not checking for efficacy, Kidron said the IIa trial revealed that it was effective, though the sample size was too small for FDA purposes.
Oramed will also need to conduct a final large-scale Phase III trial before the drug is licensed for sale, so the capsule is still years away from hitting the market.
The company is, however, ahead of Novo Nordisk, which has yet to start Phase II testing.
Oramed is hoping to partner with large pharmaceutical firms for development and sales of the drug. But Kidron said that only preliminary discussions have taken place so far.
The company also plans to initiate a Phase IIa FDA study for type 1 diabetes in the near term.
The global expense for diabetes is about $500 billion and an oral version could bring a large drop in costs.
Oramed noted that the pill would not eliminate the eventual need for injections but could delay the shift to needles by many years.
Israel’s war on medical marijuana seems to be coming to an end: Ynet has learned that the Health Ministry will next week launch a new website for patients to make an online request for cannabis to treat their illnesses. The website aims to make a significant dent in waiting times for treatment, with requests going immediately to medical experts for approval.
For Israelis trying to obtain medical marijuana, the past few years have been a nightmare. Patients have had to wait months for consultations, deal with lost bureaucracy, a lack of response from doctors and overwhelming frustration. But all of this is set to change next week.
With the new system, patients will go online, provide their personal details, and submit their specialist’s recommendation for medical marijuana. Within seconds, the request is received by a department dealing with marijuana approvals, where it is dealt with by one of 21 doctors who can approve it.
The request is expected to be seen on the same day by the doctor, who will examine the request and approve on the spot if it meets the necessary criteria. This is in direct contrast to the long waits endured by patients seeking approval for medical marijuana. The Health Ministry is also expected to greatly increase the number of doctors who can actually prescribe the cannabis.
“The entire tale of medical marijuana is one of a very embarrassing snafu,” a senior Health Ministry source told Ynet. “I personally am embarrassed for the patients. Forms get lost, frustrated patients get no answers. I hope that the online authorization will have some impact in easing this cumbersome path to a prescription.”
There are approximately 12,000 people in Israel today who receive medical marijuana, and hundreds more are currently waiting for approval. In the past two weeks alone, some 400 patients received authorization for cannabis.
Most of the patients using medical marijuana in Israel suffer from neurological problems, such as MS, Parkinson’s and ALS. Others suffer from severe chronic pain caused by diseases such as cancer, fibromyalgia or amputation. Others still suffer from weight problems caused by anorexia or other eating disorders, and cannabis stimulates the appetite.