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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 2, 2013 PAGE 7B Newly identified bone marrow stem cells reveal markers for ALS TEL AVIV--Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating motor neuron disease that rapidly atro- phies the muscles, leading to complete paralysis. Despite its high profile--established when it afflicted the New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig--ALS remains a disease that sci- entists are unable to predict, prevent or cure. Although several genetic ALS mutations have been iden- tified, they only apply toasmall number of cases. The ongoing challenge is to identify the mechanisms behind the non- genetic form of the disease and draw useful comparisons with the genetic forms. Now, using samples of stem cells derived from the bone marrow of non- genetic ALS patients, profes- sor Miguel Weil of Tel Aviv University's Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Personalized Medicine in the Department of Cell Research and Immunology and his team of researchers have uncovered four different biomarkers that characterize the non-genetic form of the disease. Each sample shows similar biological abnormali- ties to four specific genes, and further research could reveal additional commonalities. "Because these genes and their functions are already known, they give us a specific direction for research into non-genetic ALS diagnostics and therapeutics," Weil says. His initial findings were re- ported in the journal Disease Markers. To hunt for these biomark- ers, Weil and his colleagues turned to samples of bone marrow collected from ALS patients. Though more dif- ficult to collect than blood, bone marrow's stem cells are easy to isolate and grow in a consistent manner. In the lab, he used these cells as cellular models for the disease. He ul- timately discovered that cells from different ALS patients shared the same abnormal characteristics of four dif- ferent genes that may act as biomarkers of the disease. And because the characteristics appear in tissues that are related to ALS--including in muscle, brain and spinal cord tissues in mouse models of genetic ALS--they may well be connected to the degenera- tive process of the disease in humans, he believes. Searching for the biological significance of these abnor- malities, Weil put the cells under stress, applying toxins to induce the cells' defense mechanisms. Healthy cells will try to fight off threats and often prove quite resilient, butALS cells were found to be overwhelmingly sensitive to stress, with the vast majority choosing to die rather than fight. Because this is such an ingrained response, it can be used as a feature for drug screening for the disease, he adds. Whether these biomarkers are a cause or consequence of ALS is still unknown. How- ever, this finding remains an important step toward uncovering the mechanisms of the disease. Because these genes have already been iden- tified, it gives scientists a clear direction for future research. In addition, these biomarkers could lead to earlier and more accurate diagnostics. Next, Weil plans to use his lab's high-throughput screening facility--which can test thousands of com- pounds' effects on diseased cells every day--to search for drug candidates with the potential to affect the abnor- mal expression of these genes or the stress response of ALS cells. A compound that has an impact on these indicators of ALS could be meaningful for treating the disease, he says. Weil is the director of the new Cell Screening Facility for Personalized Medicine at TAU. The facility is dedicated to finding potential drugs for rare and Jewish hereditary diseases. Digital education tools for 21st-century Jewish day schools By Binyamin Kagdean JNS.org Carts stacked high with iPads and a smart board in every room--this has become an increasingly common sight in Jewish day schools, as more and more jump on the technology bandwagon. New day schools incorpo- rating blended learning have emerged as a cost-efficient alternative to the older establishment schools, and traditional institutions have been forced to upgrade to the newest tools and devices in order to stay competitive and continue to give their students an edge in the 21st century. Jewish educa- tors and organizations have begun developing and shar- ing programs for iPads and smart boards that address the particular needs of Judaic education, such as apps that easily display Hebrew fonts. Not to be ignored, however, are the dozens of innovative programs developed each year that cater to the general needs of all kinds of schools. Some of the products revo- lutionizing digital education today include the following: ThingLink ThingLink is designed for use by anyone, but has become especially favored by educators. The platform al- lows teachers to build a whole set of interactive multimedia experiences into a single im- age. Imagine a digital map of the state of Israel that is fully "clickable." Click on Jerusa- lem and up pops an image of the Western Wall. Click on Tel Aviv and hear a sound clip of the declaration of Israel's independence. Click on West Bank and read an article about the Green Line. www. thinglink.com. ClassDojo Classroom management is one of the toughest parts of being a good educator, and the growing use of individual computers in classrooms presents new challenges in keeping students focused and attentive. ClassDojo pres- ents an innovative of using wired devices for delivering moment-to-moment corn- munication with students about their behavior. Teach- ers can give points to students for good work or deduct a few if need be, and students are notified immediately on their own displays. The program also keeps track of all activity, which can be analyzed and shared with parents, www. classdojo.com. Remindl01 Everyone forgets to write down assignments once in a while, right? With Re- mind101, students and par- ents can subscribe to receive mass text messages from teachers reminding them about what's due this week. The program is designed so that the texts only go one way--students can't respond to texts, only receive them. It also protects the privacy of both the sender and the receiver by blocking the numbers from display, www. remindl01.com. Edmodo Edmodo looks and feels like Facebook. The program takes an innovative social media approach to teacher- student communication. Teachers can post messages to the whole class that come up on what looks like a"time- line," or put assignments into a calendar that generates little pop-up notifications for students. Written work can be turned in through Edmodo, and teachers can view, grade, and give feedback on the assignments all within the program. Emodo also has a live polling tool, which allows students to see in real time how the group is answering a particular multiple-choice question, www.edmodo.com. Kidblog Kidblog is a way for stu- dents to get the experience of writing for an online audi- ence in a safe and easy-to-use format. Teachers have full control over what content and comments are viewable, and only the class has access to posts. Kidblog is suited to kids of all ages. Students can be encouraged to think critically about their peers' writing, while learning the ins and outs and the etiquette of digital citizenship, www. kidblog.com. iii ii0000i00ii00i00i; i( ,0000iiii iiii00,,, !iiiiii! ! O O N V CONNECTING, DISCOVERING, AND CELEBRATING JUDAISM IN CENTRAL FLORIDA SINCE 191! YOUTH AND FAMILY EDUCATION Sunday, August llth, Celebrate Back to School Meet the Teacher 11:30 a.m.--12:30 p.m. Family Bar-B Q lunch from 12:00 p.m.--1:30 p.m. Open to COS Families & Prospective Families No charge but RSVP requested to office@ohevshalom.org COS religious school is open to non COS members for the first year in grades Pre K-5th grade. The first day of school Sunday, August 18th! Parent bagel & Schmooze at 11:30 a.m. Come & meet other parents, learn about all the activities that COS has to offer for families, adults, and youth. EARLY CHILDHOOD Geared toward families with toddler & preschoolers. All early childhood programs are open to non COS members Mischpacha Mania: One Wednesday a month for families with young children. Each month the program is based on a Jewish theme & includes a craft, I story & dinner First class is August 28th at 6 p.m. Prayers & a Shabbat story. Kinderkumsitz: Jewish Music & Movement with Rabbi Kay and "Bring a Jewish Book to Life" in conjunction with the PJ Library featuring a Jewish story & activities that connect to the story. First class is September 8th at I0:00 a.m. YOUTH GROUPS USY for 9th-12th grade, Kadima for 6th-8th grade, Olim for 4th and 5th grade. Opening events for all three groups are August 25th USY and Kadima are open to non COS members. MACHANEH OHEV LITE for K-3rd grade: will meet 4 times in the year to do camp like/youth group activities. Machaneh Ohev Lite & Olim are open to COS members and children enrolled in Hebrew school only FAMILIES Ohev Shalom offers a variety of programs for families with school age children from a Piano Shabbat Service, Holiday Celebrations, "Around the Family Table," Cooking, "The Torah of Dr. Seuss' Shabbat. For more information about COS youth and family programs contact the synagogue at 407-298-4650. 613 Concourse Pkwy South, Maitland, Florida 32751 or visit our website www.ohevshalom.org