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Israeli Medical Breakthrough Eliminates 70% of Cancerous Tumors

By United with Israel

Now going into clinical trials, Israeli breakthrough technology has the potential to destroy solid cancerous tumors in 70% of patients, but the procedure was nearly lost in bureaucracy and university politics. Fifteen years ago, Professors Yona Keisari and Itzhak Kelson of Tel Aviv University discovered a way to use alpha radiation to zap tumors. Their approach was revolutionary – alpha radiation is so powerful it can snap both strands of a cancer cell's DNA, but it won't harm surrounding healthy tissue as other types of radiation do. However, alpha radiation can't travel more than about 50 microns (1/20 of a millimeter) inside human tissue. Treating a tumor of, say, 5cm would require hundreds of thousands of alpha particles – a seeming impossibility. Keisari and Kelson discovered that, when delivered via a particular isotope of the element radium, alpha radiation can travel as far as 3mm. The isotope, Radium 224, releases atoms that diffuse inside a tumor and then emit their own alpha particles. This approach requires far fewer alpha particles to kill a tumor. The professors and Tel Aviv University patented the technology in 2003. More research was conducted and 12 peer-reviewed papers were published. But squabbling between the various stakeholders over the intellectual property kept their breakthrough in limbo until 2015 when Uzi Sofer was recruited to sort things out. Sofer had an impressive track record in medical technology. He previously co-founded and served as CEO of Brainsway, which develops treatments using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for depression, PTSD, OCD and other brain disorders and addictions. The company grew under his leadership from two to 70 employees. Realizing what the professors had, Sofer formed a new company – Alpha Tau (the "Tau" stands for Tel Aviv University) – to further develop the technology. Earlier this year Alpha Tau raised $29 million from Shavit Capital, Medison Ventures and OurCrowd. Alpha Tau is the only company to use alpha radiation to zap tumors. All other types of brachytherapy (where a sealed radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment) use beta or gamma radiation. "But that only causes a single-strand break in the DNA, from which the cell can recover," Sofer explained. "And it's not as focused. As a result, it causes a lot of side effects and destroys healthy tissue." When the healthy tissue around the tumor is not destroyed along with the cancer, the immune system is stimulated to recognize and attack the same type of tumors elsewhere in the body. These kinds of metastases are the cause of death for 85% of cancer patients. " We believe that DaRT technology has tremendous clinical value not only in destroying the tumor but preventing cancer from spreading to other organs," Sofer said. The first human trials of Alpha DaRT have been taking place in Israel and Italy for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) tumors, a form of skin and oral cancer; and in Israel, Italy, New York and Montreal for congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN). Clinical trials of DaRT planned for 2019 will take place in France (CMN), Montreal and New York (pancreatic and prostate cancer), Russia (breast cancer) and Israel (prostate cancer). Additional trials will later be initiated for more than 20 other indications – such as vulvar, cervical, renal and colon cancer – at medical centers in more than 25 countries. "We can treat any kind of solid tumor," Sofer told ISRAEL21c, "including cancers where there is no other chance and this is a patient's last chance to live." Pancreatic cancer, for example, today has no cure; patients usually die within five years of diagnosis. Alpha Tau's DaRT "seeds" may be able to flip that prognosis. "In our SCC studies, we were able to eliminate more than 70% of the tumors entirely and to cause shrinkage of 100% of the tumors," Sofer said. "Encouraged by these promising results, we hope to eliminate pancreatic tumors as well or to shrink them so that it will be possible to remove them surgically." Despite the power of alpha radiation, it's actually safer than conventional beta or gamma treatments. "You don't need so much radioactivity to get the same effect," Sofer explained. "We can ship our treatment kit to hospitals almost in regular boxes. Patients can be treated in an outpatient setting with no radioactive shielding." After less than a week, 50% of the alpha radiation will already be gone from the body. In two weeks, there will be no radioactivity left at all. However, once a DaRT kit is assembled (for example, a patient with breast cancer might need 12 needle applicators with 6 DaRT seeds in each) it must be sent to the treatment facility fast. "If for some reason a patient doesn't come on time, the next day you'll need to put the whole kit in the trash," Sofer says. Because of DaRT's fast decay, Alpha Tau will need to build production facilities close to the main treatment centers. The first one is already working in Israel. The company has received approval to build a facility in Massachusetts. The third will be in Japan with a fourth in Europe, Sofer said. Under Sofer's leadership, Alpha Tau now has 26 on staff in Israel, including the professors who invented the core technology. Following clinical testing, Sofer hopes Alpha DaRT will receive its European Union approval in 2020 with the US and Japan coming in 2022. "We are already saving lives in the trials," he said. "It's amazing to see patients who have been told their life expectancy is in weeks get treatment under local anesthesia and, 60 days out, they're clear, they have no evidence of any tumors. I've been in this business for a while, but this is the best."

Israeli Police, Settlers Injured in Evictions from Illegal Outpost

By Reuters

Israeli paramilitary police dragged dozens of Jewish settlers out of an illegal outpost in the West Bank on Thursday and said more than 20 officers were hurt during violent resistance to the evacuation. Settlers had set up two caravans at the Amona outpost last month, in what they described as a protest against a recent surge in Palestinian attacks in the West Bank. Two years ago, Amona's 300 settlers were removed by police after the Supreme Court ruled it had been built illegally and without Israeli government authorization on privately owned Palestinian land in 1995. Police said that in Thursday's operation, which lasted several hours, at least 23 officers were injured by stones thrown by the settlers, many of them teenagers, or in scuffles, and were taken to hospital for treatment. Israeli media reports said at least three settlers were also hurt. At least seven people were arrested for attacking officers, police said. The evacuation was carried out after the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday denied the settlers' petition against eviction. Most countries consider all Israeli settlements on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal. Israel disputes this, and last week Israeli authorities issued approvals for more than 2,000 settler homes in the West Bank. About 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which was also captured by Israel in the 1967 conflict. The two areas are home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. While Israel's settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from the Palestinians and in Europe, the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has taken a mostly uncritical public stand.

Cleveland Clinic Fires Muslim Doctor over Anti-Semitic Tweets

By Israel Hayom

A former resident at a hospital in Ohio has been accused of anti-Semitism after a series of tweets in which she compared Israel to Nazi Germany. According to Orthodox online news outlet Yeshiva World News, Lara Kollab, 27, a graduate of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, was recently fired from her position as an internal medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic, "after it emerged that she had been fanning anti-Semitic sentiment on Twitter for at least the last six years." Kollab was hired by the clinic in July 2018 and fired in September, over a series of hate-filled posts that were brought to the attention of her supervisors. In November, the Canary Mission website published a compilation of dozens of her tweets from 2011 to 2017, in which she called for violence against Jews, called them "dogs," minimized the Holocaust, compared Israel to Nazi Germany and claimed Zionists control U.S. media and schools. She repeatedly called on followers to "destroy the homes of the Jews" and urged Arab nations to unite to "destroy the terrorist Nazi State of Israel." In one of the most disturbing tweets, Kollab joked about intentionally giving her Jewish patients the wrong medication, writing, "I'll purposely give all the yahood [Jews] the wrong meds." She further drew parallels between Nazi Germany and the Israeli government's fight against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, writing, "It's funny how Zionists are trying to compare BDS with the Holocaust. If anything, you're the Nazis (sic) in the situation." Despite her incendiary rhetoric, Kollab denied being anti-Semitic, tweeting, "Palestinians will not try to expel all Jews. We have no problem with Jews, just murderous zionazis." Since the scandal broke out, Kollab's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts have all been deactivated. The Cleveland Clinic issued a statement saying, "This individual was employed as a supervised resident at our hospital from July to September 2018. She is no longer working at Cleveland Clinic. "In no way do these beliefs reflect those of our organization. We fully embrace diversity, inclusion and a culture of safety and respect across our entire health system," the clinic said.

Notorious Anti-Semite Appointed Polish Deputy Minister


Adam Andruszkiewicz, the former leader of the anti-Semitic and xenophobic All-Polish Youth movement, was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Digital Affairs and Social Media. The All-Polish Youth movement is considered a nationalist and anti-Semitic movement whose leaders and activists have expressed their harshness towards Jews as well as minority communities and members of the LGBTQ community. Andruszkiewicz is known as one of the most prominent right-wing activists in Poland, referring to anyone who disagreed with his views with words such as "parasites," "traitors" and "enemies of Poland." He was first elected to the Polish Parliament in 2015 as a member of the right-wing populist Kukiz 15 party. The appointment of Andrushkiewicz as a member of the Polish government was strongly criticized by leaders of Jewish organizations who claimed that "this is a new low" of the Polish government. Former Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman told the Algemeiner that Poland had appointed "a neo-Nazi antisemite in charge of internet and social media. Where are the voices of outrage in Poland and in the EU?" Foxman asked. "And where is the US State Department?" Andruszkiewicz caused further controversy during the crisis in Israel-Poland relations over the Holocaust bill passed by the Polish Parliament last year. He responded to criticism of the law by stating that "the Jews had great support among us, now they are losing it. The State of Israel and the communities associated with it throughout the world (sic) are escalating this conflict, which is worrying," he said.

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