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October 23, 2009

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PAGE 20A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 23, 2009 N TEL AVIV--A new Tel Aviv University drug, based on an older generation antibiotic, may provide doctors with an effective and innovative method of treating colon cancer in both its incipient and full-blown stages--and minimize the need for the sometimes painful, uncom- fortable colonoscopies and surgical polyp removal. Dr. Rina Rosin-Arbesfeld of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine has shown in preclinical studiesthat a common antibiotic can sup- press the growth of Colon cancer polyps in mice. Her aim is to reformulate the drug for use as a preventa- tivethqrapy or, instronger Dr. Rina RosinoArbesfeld doses, in combination with chemotherapy and radiation to fight existing cancers un- til they're gone. The current formulation reduced the size of the polyps in about 80 per- cent of the mice she studied, and on average the animals lived 30 percent longer than those who were not given the antibiotic. "My experience shows that colon cancer is par- ticularly aggressive," says Rosin-Arbesfeld. "Our new drug may be able to slow down polyp growth so that it never manifests to full- blown colon cancer." She is currently preparing the results of her recent study for an upcoming issue of the journal Gut. The antibiotic acts in a genetic fashion. In diseases like cystic fibrosis and mus- cular dystrophy, antibiotics from the aminiglycoside family can repair damaged or mutated DNA. For her new study, Rosin-Arbesfeld looked at a closely related but less toxic family of antibiot- ics from the Macrolide fam- ily that achieves the same therapeutic results. Rosin-Arbesfeld focused on a gene associated with coiorectai cancer, the APC gene, and noticed that the mutation types in colorectal cancer are similar to those in the CF gene. Noting that old generation antibiotics are effective in fighting CF. she studied its effects on colon cancer as well. She found that the drug partially repaired faulty genes in mice with colon cancer. Benefits from using old generation and out of circulation anti- biotics means that tile new therapy will not interfere with current antibiotics used for today's bacterial infections. At first she thought about using the antibiotic as a pre- ventative therapy, but later investigated its efficacy in treating full-blown cancer and found it similarly ef- fective. Ramot, TAU's commercial transfer company, has filed for a patent for the new use, and because the antibiotic has already been on the market, Rosin-Arbesfeld expects the new drug could be developed quickly. The preclinical results are en- couraging and Ramot is currently talking with po- tential partners to bring this drug to experimental trials in humans, a critical step before it can be made more widely available. "For many years it's been known that a specific family of antibiotics does more than kill bacteria," says Rosin- Arbesfeld. "They affect bio- logical systems in the body and repair mutated genes. In directing my work towards the treatment of cancer, I can help save lives." By Emily Savage j. the Jewish news weekly of northern california A musician is dancing near an expansive swimming pool at a Beverly Hills mansion, mugging for the camera while singing in Hebrew, his bass guitarstrapped to his back. The other musicians in Fool's Gold surround himmalong with some senior citizens in bathing suits squirting each other with bottles of bright orange soda and dogs leaping through the grass. The bemusing scene is from indi Mro-pop Fool's Gold's new music video for a song on the band's debut self-titled album. The founding members of Luke Top Fool's Gold bassist-vocalist Luke Top and lead guitarist Lewis Pesacov---were born in Is- rael, although both immigrated to the United States with their families by age 4. -- And while they enjoy the American lifestyle, it's not as if Top and his band mates are actually living out the lavish poolside scene, replete with octogenarians and canines, in their "Surprise Hotel" music video. In fact, that image seemed worlds away from Top during a phone interview between Rosh Hashanah and Yore Kippur. Top said he kept things more down-to - earth during the High Holy Days hanging out in the' Los Angeles area with family and friends. The L.A. area--more specifi- cally, the San Fernando Valley-- is where Top and Pesacov met. They didn't know each other in Israel, but met at age 10 while attending a camp in Reseda. 'We were the dorkiest kids at camp," Top said. The two have been playing music together ever since, ex- cluding a few years earlier this decade when Top lived in the San Francisco Bay area while attending San Francisco State University. After Top returned to South- ern California, Fool's Gold infor- mally began in 2006. The band has since played everywhere from a natural history museum to outdoor pool parties, along with the traditional circuit of bars and live-music venues. Both Top and Pesacov are interested in different forms of African music, as well as '80s dance pop--and with Fool's Gold, they've managed to seam- lessly blend the two, along with Top's mixture of Hebrew and English vocals. "When we were jamming one day, I just started singing in Hebrew,"Topsaid.' ,sIcontinue towrite, the Hebrew has gained meaning for me. It's no longer accidental. I grew up in Los An- geles, butam attached to Israeli culture, and the singing has connected me with something I didn't anticipate." While Top can speak con- versational Hebrew, he read- ily admitted he gets help from family and friends with some of the translations. He sees it as a positive challenge. Beyond Top and-Pesacov. Fool's Gold includes eight to 12 musicians (depending on the show) playing instruments including but not limited to: goat-skin Djembe drums. Af- rican banana bells, goat-toe rattles, Axatse shell gourds and an oversized tambourine pur- chased on the streets of Cairo. With all of that, plus a few traditional instruments such as a keyboard and saxophone, sometimes the stage can get a bit cramped, but Top said he feeds off the creative energy of it. As for his spirituality, Top said he observed the recent High Holy Days in his own way. "It seems common among the Jews that I know, we're not particularly religious but we are highly identified by our Judaism--both culturally and spiritually," he said. Judaism is also integral to his family history. Top said his Iraqi Jewish mother and her family fled to Israel when anti- Semitism was beginning its rise in Arab countries, and that his father's family fled to Israel, as well. from Poland during the Holocaust. ' /hen I think of all the things [my extended family] went through and survived, the fact that I 'm even here..." he trails off. "Well, I'm glad I've had music to express myself." To that end, Top loves to see the audience memberz express themselves when Fool's Gold is on stage. "I prefer when people are having fun and dancing--it's so much better than the be- wildered stares [at some bar shows]," he said with a laugh. "I'd like be known as the go-to fun Afro-pop bandi" Emily Savage is a staff writer for j. the Jewish news weekly of northern California from which this article was reprinted by permission. Question: Why is kosher meat more expensive than non- kosher meat? Is it all a scare or is there actually justification for the prices? --James, Montreal Answer: I feel your pain, James. Kosher meat is not cheap. So what accounts for the hefty price tag on your steak? I spoke with Alan Kaufman, owner of the Kosher Market- place on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Alan explained that there are a number of factors that drive the price of kosher meat higher than its non-kosher counterparts. The first thing Alan men- tioned is supervision. Kosher meat is supervised from the time the animal isslaflghtered until it is packaged and sold. Kosher slaughterhouses must employ shochtim--those trained in the laws of shechita, ritual slaugh- ter-as well as supervisors who can be consulted on unusual or contentious circumstances. Jewish law also requires that kosher meat be soaked in water for half an hour, salted, andthen washed thoroughly three times. In non-kosher meat plants where these extra steps aren't taken, much more meat can be processed and shipped out. The more meatacompany sells, the lower it can afford to set its prices. Because the nature'of kosherprocessingrequires more inefficient time for soaking and salting, kosher plants produce less meat and cannot set their prices as low as their non-kosher competitors. Finally, Alan reminded me that kosher meat isn't so easy to come by. To be kosher, an animal must be healthy, and must have no broken bones, no diseases and no scarred or punctured organs. Downer cattle, or cqws thatare unable to stand on their own. are never used. Alan estimated that only 20 percent of the cows in any given slaughterhouse pass the inspection that is required for them to be kosher. I've seen other estimates from30 percent to 40 percent. Either way, it's much lower than at facilities where every cow that comes in gets slaughtered and sold. Screening the kosher from the treifalso takes time and money. So there are some reasons why the consumer is charged top dollar for your kosher hamburger. Ensuring that something is done in a kosher way is a pricey endeavor, and this means that the base price for kosher meat is going to be higher than non-kosher meat. Does it mean that the meat is cleaner or better quality? It might, but as we learned from the Postville scandal last year, kosher meat can still be pro- duced under very problematic circumstances. Still, amajoradvantage of eat- ing kosher meat in this day and age is the ability to easily trace its whereabouts and origins. As we learn more aboutthe dangers of contemporary meat distribu- tion. including a real risk of E. coli contamination, it becomes increasingly important to know where our food comes from and what's in it. E. coli is a bacteria found in the feces of both hu- mans and animals. In America. kosher slaughterhouses do not deal with the hindquarters of cows they're usually sold to non-kosher plants, which de- creases but does not completely eliminate--the likelihood of kosher meat coming in contact with cow feces and thus E. coli. And if the price of kosher meat is hitting you harder than usual. might I suggest making a nice spinach lasagna? Or perhaps a vegetable tart? For more information about Judaism and Jewish life, visit MyJewishLearning.corrL