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PAGE 6B HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS; JUNE 30, 2017 rl Rabbi Gideon Weitzman PUAH senior advisor I would like to discuss the state of fertility in the State of Israel. This is a source of pride for many of us who live and work here in this field. What is so unique about Israel's fertility? The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that in Israel, women have an aver- age of three children. This is significantly higher than the average in any other country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with the OECD average being 1.7 children. Israel has an annual population growth of 2 percent while the OECD average is 0.6. This demonstrates that having children in Israel is important and it is a very child orientated society. Large families are the norm, and Israelis tend to have larger families than their counter- parts in other countries. "In this sense, Israel is a very traditional society. Combined with its high level of technol- ogy, these two elements have made Israel one of the centers for fertility treatment in the world. What is an example of successful Israeli fertil- ity technology? Israel was the fifth coun- try in the world to perform a successful in-vitro fertil- ization treatment. The first Israeli IVF baby was born, on September 22, 1982. The baby, Romi Newmark, has become a well-known Israeli media personality and a newscaster. Today, Israel has the high- est rate of in-vitro fertiliza- tion worldwide. The journal Human Reproduction Update published that in 2002, there were 1657 IVF treatments per million people performed in Israel. The second highest rated country, Iceland, was significantly lower, with only 899 treatments per mil- lion people. The USA was far behind with 126 treatments. In the past decade, this number has only increased. In fact, the Health Ministry has published data that 4% of all children born in Israel are conceived through IVF. When we consider that IVF is not always successful and that each year over 180 thousand children are born in Israel we see that we are dealing with thousands of treatments every year. One reason why treatment is so common in Israel is a fascinating and most unique law related to the cost of treatment. What is the Israeli law regarding fertility treat- ments? In most countries, fertil- ity treatment is often not covered by health insurance. Even when it is covered, it is usually only partial coverage. Even in states that do have insurance coverage, there is no consistency from state to state as to what is covered. The couple will have to pay thousands of dollars for each treatment. Does this cause people to give up on treatment? Yes, unfortunately. With the chances of pregnancy at each cycle only around 30%, a couple may well have to try several times until they are successful. The cost can be- come prohibitive, and couples may drop out of treatment for financial reasons before real- izing their dreams of having their own children. What is different about Israel's .coverage? In Israel, the coverage is based not on the number of treatments, but on the out- comes. Since 1987, fertility treatments, including IVF, are covered by the Kupat Cholim until the couple has delivered two children. There is no limit on the number of treatments; only on the number of children There is nowhere else in the world where the insurance is for the outcome not for the treatment. When a couple Seeks treat- ment, that treatment isn't the goal; it's just a means to attain their dream of having children. If the doctors know that they have an unlimited number of chances to. attempt treatment, doesn't this take the pressure off doctors to succeed as quickly as possible? It is true that in countries where the couple pay out of pocket, the couple will place great pressure on the doctor to achieve a pregnancy very quickly. However, this does not affect outcomes at all. At the recent Annual Meeting of the Israeli Fertility Soci- ety, the statistics presented indicated that there was a pregnancy success rate of over 30% in women under 35, which is comparable to statistics in countries that do not cover costs. In ad- dition, there are negative consequences to placing the doctor under pressure. As we have written in the past, in a scenario that only looks for an immediate pregnancy, the doctors may over stimulate women and place limits on which women can be accepted for treatment. Are there positive re- sults, scientifically, to offering free treatment? What the nearly free treat- ments in the State of Israel does mean that Israeli doc= tors have developed a vast experience of dealing with difficult cases. This includes older women who are under- going fertility treatment and couples who have had many treatments and eventually become pregnant. In other countries, these sam. e people would never have had the opportunity to undergo treat- ment and give birth to their own children. Their doctors would never have the expe- rience of seeing firsthand that even these difficult and complex cases can end in pregnancy and babies. Israel designation as a world leader in the area of fertility research and treat- ment is well deserved. In addition to being very well represented at interna- tional conferences, world- renowned researchers and medical professionals come to Israel to see for themselves and learn from our unique medical system. Another example of Israel's distinctive system is the high acceptance of PUAH halachic supervision in the fertility labs. In places, for example, Bikkur Cholim, there is full time PUAH hashgachah available, and no need to set an appointment with PUAH. This sensitivity to the halachah helps the whole fertility journey. The effect of the mind and soul on the body cannot be downplayed. We are proud of our people and our nation in the enor- mous success of fertility treatments! By ISRAEL21c Staff Israeli researchers have de- veloped a new therapy to treat atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and prevent heart failure, us- ing a new biomedical polymer that reduces arterial plaque and inflammation in the cardiovascular system. Atherosclerotic cardiovas- cular disease causes 56 mil- lion deaths annually world- wide; according to the 2015 Lancet Global Burden of Disease Report. Arteries are lined by a thin layer of cells, the endothelium, which keep them toned and smooth and maintains blood flow. Atherosclerosis begins with damage to the endothe- lium, typically caused by high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol. When endothelial cells be- come inflamed, they produce a molecule called E-selectin, which brings white blood cells (monocytes) to the area. That leads to dangerous plaque buildup in the arteries. At present, there are several available treatment options for atherosclerosis, but no therapy can reverse arterial damage and improve the heart muscle. An inno- vative nano-polymer made in Israel shows promise in actually reducing arterial damage and improving the heart muscle. This E-selectin-targeting polymer selectively repairs damaged tissue without harming healthy tissue, so it has no side effects--unlike statins, which are currently the leading medication used for treating atherosclerosis. "Our E-selectin-targeting polymer reduces existing plaque and prevents fur- ther plaque progression and inflammation, preventing arterial thrombosis, ischemia, myocardial infarction and stroke," says Prof.Ayelet David of the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) department of clinical biochemistry and pharma- cology. Patented and in preclini- cal stage, the new polymer has been tested on nlice with positive results. Stunned by the results In a study soon to be published, David and fellow researchers describe how they treated atherosclerotic mice with four injections of the new biomedical polymer and tested the change in their arteries after four weeks. "We were stunned by the results," said Dr. Jonathan Leor, director of the Cardio- vascular Research Institute at Sheba Medical Center and professor of cardiology at Tel Aviv University, who collaborated with David on this research study. "The myocardial function of the treated mice was greatly improved, there was less in- flammation and a significant decrease in the thickness of the arteries," said Leor. David and Leor suggest that this polymer-based therapy may also be helpful to people with diabetes, hypertension and other age-related condi- tions. "As such, the new poly- meric therapy may have life- changing benefits for millions of people," they stated. "We are now seeking a pharmaceutical company to bring our polymer therapy J BAKER, HEARD, OSTEEN & DAVENPORT P.A., ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY Specializing in the treatment of: Sports Injuries including Arthroscopy Arthritis and Total Joint ReplacementS including Hand Surgery Trauma and General Orthopedics Downtown Orlando: 345 W. Michigan St. Orlando, FL 32806 (407) 843-9083 www.orthodoks.com Next to Dr. Phillips Hospital 9430 Turkey Lake Rd. Suite 116 Orlando, FL 32819 (407) 345-1234 ' through the next stages of drug development and ulti- mately to market," said Ora Horovitz, seniorvice president By Brian Blum It's not a cure, but a new therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's dis- ease, is being hailed as a breakthrough that can extend the life expectancy of those suffering from ALS. Developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the therapy may come to market much faster than typical treat- ments because it is based on an existing FDA-approved drug called MabThera, which is used to treat certain autoimmune diseases and cancers. Dr. Rachel Lichtenstein of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering at BGU redesigned a portion of MabThera into a new molecule to treat ALS. "Since the drug is already approved, we believe that we will need only limited preclini- of business development at BGN Technologies (BGN), BGU's technology and com- mercialization company. cal testing to reach the clinical phase," Lichtenstein said. The drug has been tested so far with mice, which "showed a significant increase in life expectancy., Part of the progression of ALS results from increased activity of glial cells, a type of immune cell that damages and kills the body's motor neu- ron cells and decreases their ability to cleanse the central nervous system (CNS). Mab- Thera restores the immune defenses of the CNS. Lichtenstein realized that MabThera could work its magic with ALS, as well. "We found away to thwart the glial cells from attacking and kill- ing healthy brain cells," she explained. Lichtenstein added that the new molecule she designed "meets the conditions for patenting for the treatment of ALS"--a potential com- mercial boon for BGU. The researchers are seeking a pharmaceutical company "We believe that this thera- py has the potential to help a great number of people," said Horovitz. P partner and recently partici: pated in the 16th National Life Sciences & Technology Week in Tel Aviv. ALS, a lethal, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leads to atrophy, paraly- sis and eventually death due to failure of the respiratory muscles.The only drugs avail- able currently are Reluzole, which helps extend life by only three to six months, and Edaravone, which has demonstrated relatively mod- est success. The new Israeli drug can- didate could have benefits beyond ALS, said Dr. Ora Horovitz, seniorvice president of bUsiness development at BGN Technologies, BGU's technology transfer and com- mercialization company. "This could also have major implications on the life expec- tancy of other neurodegen- erative disease patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."