Monday, February 2, 2009

For such a small country, Israel is doing amazing things in the world of science

New Developments In Israeli Research

by Amy Spiro
Editorial Intern
• Researchers at Hebrew University and the University of California, Berkeley have developed a process to transmit medical images via cellular phones. This development has the potential to allow for sophisticated radiological diagnoses and treatments to the three-quarters of the world’s population that has no access to ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs and other medical imaging technology. The technology allows smaller, more streamlined data acquisition machines to be used in Third-World countries; the information is then transmitted elsewhere and an image is received back, thus reducing the cost and widening the accessibility of medical imaging.

• Man’s best friend may be more than just a loyal companion, according to a study by Dr. Michael Balaish of Israel’s Agriculture Ministry. The study revealed that in homes
that had dogs, children maintained lower blood pressure than in homes without them. Previous studies expressed this link in adults, but this was the first time the effect was tracked among children. The study was conducted in cooperation with the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology, the children’s ward at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

• New research at the University of Haifa could one day help develop medications and treatments to slow the memory loss of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients. A research team led by Professor Kobi Rosenblum was able to identify a specific protein that is essential in the transformation of short-term memories into long term ones.

• Brushing your teeth may actually provide more benefits than just removing plaque, according to a new study from Tel Aviv University. Brushing three times a day can cut the risk of developing hospital-borne pneumonia, a lung infection that develops in about 15 percent of people who are ventilated. Contamination can occur two to three days after the tube is removed, but having the teeth of patients brushed three times a day can reduce the risk of pneumonia by as much as 50 percent.

• We may be feeling the benefits of robots in our daily lives sooner than we think, courtesy of the new Autonomous Systems Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The Center, which is one of only five in the world, includes performance-enhanced unmanned aerial vehicles, swimming medical micro-robots that can travel through the human body, unmanned submarine, land-based, and space exploration, environmental disaster cleanup operations, weapons and explosive detectors and a wealth of other implementations that will drive progress in defense, medicine, and industry.

• Soot, long assumed to have a cooling effect on the climate, could actually be doing the opposite, according to scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the University of Maryland and NASA. Airbone particles of soot rise into the atmosphere and may actually either heat or cool the clouds depending on the reaction that takes place. Dr. Ilan Koren and Hila Afargan of the Weizmann Institute have developed an analytical model that shows when each occurrence takes place and how we can predict it. This research may be crucial in further studies of global warming and its effects.

• Nano-sized “bullets” that seek out cancerous cells, non-toxic rechargeable batteries, conversion of light into consumable energy and anti-bacterial bandages and hospital clothing are among the innovations to be pursued at Israel’s largest nanotechnology complex opening in the spring at Bar-Ilan University. It is to house 40 laboratories and more than 250 chemists, biologists, physicists and engineers.

• Renewable fuels may be just around the corner, if Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has its way. The university just signed a multi-year and multimillion dollar deal with Primafuel Inc., to focus on developing renewable fuels from algae.

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