Making Medicines That Help the World

Seventy-one-year-old Iowa resident Ruth Brown may have no idea that she owes a debt of gratitude to an Israeli company located south of Haifa. Doctors had probed Ruth’s stomach and performed a colonoscopy but could not determine the cause of her persistent intestinal bleeding.1

If not for Given Imaging Ltd. of Yokneam, Israel, her doctors might still be stumped. But because of a diagnostic pill developed by Given and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001, Ruth was able to swallow a capsule containing a tiny camera that glided through her digestive system, transmitting more than 50,000 images of her small intestine and showing her doctors what was wrong.

About the size of a large vitamin pill, the M2A Capsule was developed by an Israeli missile specialist and has helped diagnose such diseases as Crohn’s and Celiac, as well as intestinal tumors.

The patient wears a belt fitted with the Given Data Recorder that receives the camera’s signals,2 and the data is then downloaded into a computer and analyzed by doctors.

Ruth Brown’s problem turned out to stem from radiation burns due to cancer treatments. By eliminating her blood-thinner medication, which was irritating the burns, doctors were able to help her.

Given Imaging wants to expand its technology to include camera capsules for the esophagus, stomach, and colon.

Today Israel is the “100th smallest country [in the world] with less than 1/1000th of the world’s population,” as one source notes.3 Of its 7.2 million residents, 5.7 million are Jewish. And approximately 51,000 of those are nurses; 32,000, physicians; 9,000, dentists; and 6,000, pharmacists.4

Israel leads the way in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) detection. Wrote one organization: “Integrated Nano-Technologies, a leading U.S. company, is now using Israeli technology developed at Haifa Technion as the backbone of a new DNA-based testing system called BioDetect that will rapidly and accurately test for the presence of biological pathogens, such as the virus that causes SARS as well as Anthrax and smallpox.”5

Researchers in Jerusalem are also developing vaccines—in the form of skin ointments and pills—to combat biological warfare.6

A cell-based therapy developed by the Israeli company MultiGene Vascular Systems (MGVS) helps people who suffer from blocked arteries or peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The therapy, MultiGene Angio (MGA), can prevent patients from needing amputations.7

Copaxone®, used to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS), is made by the Israeli company Teva Pharmaceuticals and is today marketed in more than 40 countries. It was developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

Special goggles designed by Prof. Yoram Baram at the Israel Institute of Technology improve the gait of Parkinson’s disease patients who have trouble walking. These also help stroke victims and people with MS without using pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures.8

Lumenis, an Israeli laser technology company specializing in ophthalmology, has developed a device to treat retinal conditions that can lead to vision loss and blindness. Arutz-7 reported that Lumenis can treat “diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears and detachment, premature retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion.”9 More than 30 million people suffer from these conditions.

And prostate cancer may have met its match in a new, light-sensitive drug called Tookad, developed at the Weizmann Institute. Tookad apparently can lead to the complete destruction of cancerous tumors on the prostate.10 And Tookad can be flushed out of the body within two hours.

The camera pill that helped Ruth Brown is just one example of what the world owes to the little country of Israel, which contributes disproportionately to humanity’s welfare through medicine, science, and technology. To read more about these advancements, log on to the Web site of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs at mfa.gov.il/MFA.

ENDNOTES
  1. “Doctors See More With Camera Pill,” The Associated Press, December 1, 2003 <msnbc.msn.com/id/3606947>.
  2. “Invitation for Technical Cooperation,” Given Imaging Ltd. <http://www.matimop.org.il/newrdinf/company/c2494.htm>.
  3. “Learn About Israel’s Greatest Accomplishments,” 25 Ways to Help Israel <25waystohelpisrael.com/pages/t1.asp?PID=1014>.
  4. “Health: Health Services,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 1, 2006 <mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/Health+-+Social+Services/HEALTH-+Health+Services.htm>.
  5. “Israel Leading the Way in SARS Virus Detection,” Scottish Friends of Israel <scottishfriendsofIsrael.org/Israel_Today/medicine.htm>.
  6. “New Vaccine to Fight Viral Diseases and Biological Weapons,” Ibid.
  7. Nicky Blackburn, “Israeli cell therapy could help PAD sufferers walk again,” September 27, 2007 <israel21c.org/bin/en.jsp?enDispWho= Articles%5El1787&enPage= BlankPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enVersion=0&enZone=Health&>.
  8. “Improving the Walking Abilities and Quality of Life for Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke Patients” <gaitaidmedical.net/>.
  9. Ezra HaLevi, “Israeli Medical Advances Receive FDA Approval,” December 1, 2005 <www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/94037>.
  10. Hillel Fendel, “Prostate Treatment Advancing, Thanks to Israeli Research,” October 29, 2007 <www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/124078>.

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