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Israel Health & Medicine: Medical Research & Development

Israel has made significant theoretical and practical contributions to the biotechnology revolution and has developed an advanced infrastructure of medical and paramedical research as well as bioengineering capabilities. Clinical medicine and biomedical research account for over half of all scientific publications. The country's industrial sector has increased its activities in the medical field to capitalize on its extensive knowledge base.

Local scientists have developed methods for producing a human growth hormone and interferon, a group of proteins effective against viral infections. Genetic engineering, including cloning, has resulted in a wide spectrum of diagnostic kits based on monoclonal antibodies, along with other microbiological products.

Sophisticated medical equipment for both diagnostic and treatment purposes has been developed and marketed worldwide, such as computer tomography (CT) scanners, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems, ultrasound scanners, nuclear medical cameras and surgical lasers. Other recent innovations include a controlled-release liquid polymer to prevent accumulation of tooth plaque; a device to reduce both benign and malignant swellings of the prostrate gland; and the use of botulin to correct eye squint.

Israeli medical conglomerate Teva Pharmaceuticals announced a breakthrough in drug metabolism technology in April 2017.  One of the main problems with medicine is that not enough of the prescribed dose is digested by the body, because your body simply cannot metabolize the medicine fast enough before it is expelled in waste.  By replacing some of the hydrogen atoms in a drug for Huntington's disease with heavier deuterium atoms, scientists at Teva Pharmaceuticals developed medicine that remains unchanged in the body for longer.  Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen that includes an extra neutron, which doubles it's atomic weight and makes the chemical bonds in the drug more difficult to break.  This provides more effective and longer-lasting treatment, as well as allows doctors to prescribe lower doses to mitigate potential side-effects.  

Israeli MRI manufacturer Aspect Imaging closed a $30 million financing round in April 2017, after raising adequate funds to complete development of their Embrace Neonatal MRI system as well as their Stroke-dedicated MRI device.  Aspect's MRI machines are much smaller than the competition's devices, which allows them to be used at point-of-care.  Aspect's Embrace Neonatal MRI system will allow Nennatal intensive care units to apply scans to newborns without them having to leave the unit.  The Stroke-dedicated MRI is a compact MRI that is meant to be used in close proximity to other emergency room equipment at the point-of-care, saving professionals and patients both time and energy.  

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Rashi, Athkat.  An Israeli pharma firm has found a way to make drugs longer lasting and more effective, Quartz, (April 7, 2017); 
Israeli MRI co Aspect Imaging raises $30m, Globes (April 21, 2017);