Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nasal vaccine for Alzheimer's disease

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THINK OF ISRAEL: Rockets from Gaza, terrorist bombings, threats from Iran, the slaughter of settlers, an armed camp. Now, think again. For in that beleaguered New Jersey-size country lies a wellspring of medical and high-tech research, where innovations that could improve the lot of humans everywhere are even now being developed.

Imagine: a nasal vaccine that could protect against Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at Tel Aviv University's Department of Neurobiology may be on the way to producing just that. They've been able to induce an immune response in patients that may eventually be used both to prevent brain damage in stroke victims and restore cognitive function in Alzheimer's cases. Another researcher at the same university has accidentally discovered a drug that may turn off cancer cell reproduction without harming healthy cells.

One Israeli dad (an immigrant from New York) hopes to introduce salt therapy, used in Israel, to the United States. Breathing salt molecules can help patients with lung, sinus, or allergy problems. It's an ancient remedy that's received positive note in major publications like The New England Journal of Medicine.

What's more, there's an Israeli virologist working at Hebrew University's Hadassah Medical Center who has found that an extract from the Israeli elderberry plant is an effective--potentially life-saving--treatment for avian flu.

Who knew all this scientific research was ongoing in Israel? The country ranks third in the world in the ratio of advanced degrees to population, and has the largest number of biotech startups per-capita in the world. While conflict and terror may grab the headlines, it's clear: There's a lot more to this little country.

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